Transformation leaders and other C-suite executives around the world continue to pursue ambitious transformation programs for reasons that have remained consistent over time: they seek to unlock growth potential, accelerate the rate at which they innovate, improve customer experience, build new capabilities, and compete effectively in the future.
But the past several years have been marked by sustained uncertainty and unprecedented volatility. Today’s transformation practitioners—each on their own journey and timeline—can draw upon the cumulative wisdom of the many leaders who have completed successful transformation programs and offer fresh perspectives for these challenging times.
Against this backdrop, McKinsey recently convened a group of senior leaders in Europe who are currently engaged in transformation efforts, some on a global scale (see sidebar, “About McKinsey’s European Transformation Summit”). This article reflects the insights and experiences shared at the summit by practitioners in attendance. The summit offered an opportunity for these practitioners to discuss the current state of transformation, find common ground across industries, and glean insights to shape their paths forward.
As leaders shared insights and strategies that are enabling them to succeed despite the challenging economic climate, two recurring themes emerged: the power and necessity of a unifying principle to inspire and lead the transformation, and a need for a structured approach to execute and sustain it.
The power of a unifying principle
Almost by definition, an enterprise transformation is a far-reaching effort that’s ambitious in scale and broad in scope. The most successful transformations are often centered on a unifying principle to motivate the change and ensure a holistic and sustained impact. For example, a transformation could center on a North Star vision, a joint mission, or a catalyzing event.
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