* By: Yvette Mucharraz y Cano and Pablo Martín Buitrón Morales*

Even before the current coronavirus pandemic, the global economic context already presented unprecedented challenges for companies. To survive and eventually have or maintain success, company managers must lead the change in their organizations.

Transformations in organizations are identified as one of the most critical responsibilities of leaders in their managerial work. However, Ryan Raffaelli, a professor at Harvard Business School, points out that seven out of ten initiatives for change will fail, so it would be necessary to understand what makes a transformation within an organization so complex and how many efforts of the organization to transform lead to failure. So what are the elements that need to be taken into account to achieve the success of a transformation?

To answer, let’s analyze Raffaelli’s proposal, consisting of a model of stages for organizational transformation, based on key questions, which provide the reader with tools and a guide to accompany them when carrying out or participating in an organizational transformation process.

Diagnosis: Why and why is it necessary to change? From this questioning it is possible to construct a diagnosis and identify the need to carry out the change.

Raffaelli proposes the existence of two engines that lead to change: on the one hand, the areas of opportunity in the organization’s performance and execution, which could also be equivalent to being “afraid”, for example, of the action of a competitor; and on the other, its future needs and opportunities, which we could also call “starvation”, or the desire to take advantage of those detected opportunities. Identifying the specific need for change has important implications for the way it is managed, therefore, it is important to consider this analysis as a starting point for any transformation process.

Design: What type of change is required? Once the need for change has been detected, whether present or future, it will be necessary to design a concrete action plan to carry out the transformation process.

In this sense, it is time then to ask the following question: What kind of change is needed for the organization? There are many factors that will help to answer this question, however, Raffaelli highlights two elements that will serve as a starting point to define the type of change that is required: 1) the scope or dimension of the process and 2) the origin of the change . In this way, four types of change are identified: 1) tactical change, 2) evolutionary change, 3) revolutionary change, and 4) transformational change.

Implementation: What is the best way to implement the change? Here it is necessary to recognize whether the deployment of the change process will work throughout the organization, or only in one or more business units and / or start with a project or pilot program. As for the time that the transformation process will take, it can take place in an accelerated way or in a long period of time.

Evaluation: How to measure the impact of the transformation process? That which is not measured cannot be improved. Two key aspects of measurement are the proximity of the results obtained in relation to those originally intended and the progress in integrating employees in the change process.

Regardless of the type of change to be carried out – restructuring, new processes, organizational fusion, new systems, leadership change, etc. – the 4-question model can be used to understand how the different elements of the organization are interrelated and thus ensuring or at least increasing the probability of success in the transformation.

Finally, in order to make the change easier, it will be necessary to achieve a balance seeking that it be carried out at the right time and in the right place. The answers to each question will depend on the objectives, needs and capacities of the organization.


* Professors in the Personnel Management area of ​​IPADE Business School.

The opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of their authors and are completely independent of the position and editorial line of Forbes Mexico.