Many retail companies are starting a transformation at the moment. But the challenge is that when starting a transformation, the goal can seem so vague it’s difficult to do anything with. Alternatively, the transformation can seem so huge, so overwhelming, that you’re not sure where to actually start.

So, in this episode, you’ll discover the 4 stages that you need to go through to help “get your arms around” the transformation. Those 4 stages are:

  1. Defining tangible output and structure
  2. Laying out plans
  3. Setting up the team
  4. Building support

Together, these 4 stages will help you to kick start your transformation. Now, let’s dive into the detail for each of these:

Defining tangible output and structure

This is the stage when you need to turn your big goals into tangible, bitesize pieces. Think of the old adage – how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

But, what’s the best way of breaking down your goal into tangible steps? Simply asking how. Over and over again.

Once you have a clearer idea of what’s involved in delivering your goals, you’ll be able to identify which functional areas need to be involved. In turn, you can identify key workstreams. A workstream is a programme of work with a similar theme that runs for a long duration, possibly for the whole transformation journey. It’s likely that the workstreams will interact with each other but separating them adds structure to help understand it, communicate it and manage it.

Laying out plans

With the workstreams and outline of what projects you’ll need in place. Now, you need to work out the order in which to do it. To do this, define the dependencies between projects. Most obviously, this is where one piece of work relies on the output of another. For example, an new feature which relies on an IT system overhaul first.

However, you also need to think about where different projects rely on limited resource. That could be:

  • Manpower – particular people or skills are in short supply or high demand
  • Budget – overcoming or managing with limited cash constraints.
  • Head space – how much mental capacity is available for taking on new change initiatives.

You also need to consider if your transformation will deploy in a phased approach or a big bang. Phased approaches often start to realise benefit sooner and in small chunks. There is less risk too. Big bang is good if there are many dependencies which rely on concurrent go live dates. However, the big bang approach brings the potential for lots of pain and lots of risk.

Setting up the transformation team

Firstly, identify the key skills you’re going to need. Having a clearer view of the tangible components of the transformation will help you with this. This is in fact a key stage of starting a transformation. Without doing this, you’ll never be able to keep up the pace that your plans demand.

Once you know the skills you need, shortlist potential people to join part of the team. They could be people you already know. But if not, remember to ask your network to support or make recommendations.

Once you’ve identified the right people, you’ll then need to recruit them. That could be literally be external recruitment or internal recruitment. Also, don’t forget to emotionally recruit someone – you need to win their heart. This will help them commit to the transformation.

You may also need to think about building capability – and allowing enough time for this to actually happen – remember, your team aren’t going to be able to instantly get up to 100% productivity. Allow time for your team members to naturally grow their capability and confidence. Plus, you’ll need to allow time to support them through coaching and mentoring too.

Once you know your team, remember to onboard them clearly. Host a kick off meeting to share and discuss the problems, goals and approach.

Building support from stakeholders

Stakeholders are critical to your transformation. You need to consider who your key players are? What do they think? What do they feel? I’m sure you already know that stakeholder engagement and management is critical to your future transformation success. So start that engagement early.

But be careful – many people love to have an opinion on your transformation. However, only a few have relevant and valuable opinions. Listening to the wrong opinions could redirect your transformation away from your ultimate goal. So, part of your role in leading a transformation will be to decide who has a valid opinion and what is just noise.

Connect with Oliver Banks

Are you starting a transformation? Do you know what direction and path you’re taking? Please let me know any questions by commenting below or contacting me on LinkedIn or email.

Now, tell me, are we already connected on LinkedIn? If not, we should be! Please do reach out and remember to personalise the invitation to let me know that you’re a listener. Here’s the link to my profile.

Alternatively, you can email me at or just fill in my Contact form.


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