Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about reality television. It’s not that I’m a huge reality TV fan (or at least, not only that).

Today’s strategic transformation landscape bears some striking similarities to reality TV—specifically World’s Toughest Race, released over the summer. World’s Toughest Race follows teams of adventures on a long-range multi-day expedition race that takes them over challenging terrain like mountains, jungle, and the open ocean. The winning team receives a large cash prize.

To succeed in the race, a team requires:

  • Complete alignment on audacious goals
  • A unified plan of attack that can be updated on-the-fly
  • Skills and preparation that lead the field
  • Strong leadership and teamwork
  • A singular focus on reaching a specific goal
  • Endurance and a positive mindset to go the distance

Teams leading strategic transformation in today’s fast-paced business landscape also need these attributes to succeed.

But recent research from Accenture suggests that most organizations are struggling to meet the challenges of transformation.

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The research reveals that 75 percent of businesses are not confident in their ability to execute transformation and 60 percent haven’t achieved the financial performance they expect.

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An organization that can’t change quickly is vulnerable in many ways—some obvious and some less expected. For instance, our research found that 79 percent of businesses are adopting emerging technologies faster than they can address related cybersecurity issues. To extend the World’s Toughest Race metaphor, this is like a team using an untested boat on the open ocean. The result could be disaster.

What causes transformation projects to fail?

There are a host of common landmines, including competing priorities across business functions and the challenge of balancing transformation with business as usual.

It’s also worth noting that the pace of transformation has never been faster. Game-changing technologies are arriving at an increasing pace. Some of them, AI and blockchain, are interacting with each other and creating combinatorial effects that no one can predict in the long term.

The ability to keep pace with these developments is crucial for any business that wants to remain competitive—but the speed of change makes it easy to be overtaken by an innovation when you’re still adapting to the previous one. 

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The good news is that this isn’t inevitable.

With the right transformation skills, organizations can not just keep up with the pace of change but seize strategic opportunities to grow and thrive.

Returning to the World’s Toughest Race metaphor, the right team with the right skills can not only expect to survive this remarkable challenge—they can win.

In this blog series, we’ll go over five transformation skills that every organization should have. We’ll kick off my next post with a look at the power of embracing continuous change.

See more IT Strategy insights.

Ashley Skyrme

Senior Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Cloud First, Global

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