The word transformation builds a whole range of emotions in us. It can excite some and give a cold sweat to others. But, if we’re using the word “transformation” incorrectly then we’ll be setting the wrong expectations among stakeholders and shareholders. So it’s critical that we really understand when we are talking about transformation – and when we are not.

In this episode of the Retail Transformation Show podcast, discover:

  • Why transformation is not right for all companies.
  • What the alternative to transformation is (and still aim for future success).
  • How to get started on your change journey.
  • What you can do to increase your chances of transformation success by 8 times!

Transformation drives emotional extremes

😨 Transformation scares people.

🤩 Transformation excites people.

In fact, that word, “transformation” fills people with hope or nervousness. Or both at the same time.

Transformation can lead to a range of emotions in all of us. Sometimes positive emotions and sometimes negative ones. So it’s important that we understand what we mean when we’re talking about transformation.

The change curve

Any change can be unsettling to many of us. For many of us, we naturally resist change. But transformative change is particularly extreme. It evokes must stronger reactions. John Fisher's Change Curve describes the emotional reaction to change or transformation.

Transformation vs Improvement

Transformation and improvement are both change journeys that you can follow to pursue the ever changing world that we find ourselves in now. But, there are subtle but important differences.

Transformation is:

  • A major change.
  • Hard work and filled with risks.
  • More likely to cause fear  (both fear of failure and fear of change).

Whereas, Improvement is:

  • More about enhancing what’s there.
  • Probably, more of a smaller, incremental change.
  • Optimising a successful operation or business.
  • Regarded as a safer, more secure route for businesses that are performing well.

Basically, if you’re retail business is not in control and not performing, then you must transform. But, if you are satisfied with your performance but want to continue to keep pace in the retail market, then improvement would be the best journey for you.

And a quick aside on “digital transformation”. If you happen do be doing a technology project or initiative, then it does NOT mean that you are doing digital transformation. Yes, it could be transformative. But it could also be just an improvement. Don’t set the wrong expectations by using digital transformation.

Plus, you should also listen to episode 44: The Problem With Digital Transformation.

How to get your retail improvement started

If you are pursuing a retail improvement, then you should clearly identify what it is that you want to improve. Use a meaningful metric and make sure that you capture the current performance levels. Agree the target with the business and then make it happen.

The key to making it happen is effective project management. By developing a relentless drum beat to progress the project, you will steadily work towards your goals. Then you will be able to measure your progress against the original targets. And please remember to look out for unintended consequences along the way!

How to get your retail transformation started

If you need to transform, then you must get a copy of my transformation trifecta. You can pick up a copy below.

The trifecta lays out 3 critical elements to make your transformation a success.

  1. A strong will to change
  2. An achievable approach
  3. The right people to do it

In the episode, I referenced some research by McKinsey which shows that you could 8x your chance of success by communicating about your transformation. Read McKinsey’s article here to find out more.

Closing thought: The end? Or just the start of another chapter?

Is there an end to transformation? Or by the time that you get to the end, you need to evolve and transform again. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

If you enjoyed this episode, I have 3 actions for you:

  1. Subscribe in your favourite podcast app.
  2. Write a short review in iTunes / Apple Podcasts.
  3. Connect on LinkedIn.

Other retail podcast episodes that you may enjoy

And you may recall that during this episode, I mentioned some other episodes too. So, you should also take a listen to:

📱 Episode 42: How Social Media Is Changing Retail (part 1) and episode 43: (part 2) with Polly Barnfield OBE.

💡 Episode 45: Reinventing Retail For The New Normal (part 1) and episode 46: (part 2) with Ian Shepherd, the author of Reinventing Retail.


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