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Fit for Growth by Deniz Caglar, John Plansky

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17Staying Fit for Growth

It used to be that a business transformation was a once-in-a-lifetime event, the sort of fundamental reset prompted by a rare, short-lived disruption—such as a new technology, a devastating scandal, or a dramatic shift in costs. But if recent events in our global economy have revealed anything, it's that change truly is constant. Companies of all sizes, in all industries, are operating in a more volatile, less predictable environment. To navigate successfully, companies must repeatedly transform themselves—indeed, institutionalize the capacity to change themselves—again and again, as market conditions require.

Very few companies are competent at doing this, and not for lack of trying. Our research suggests that less than half of all performance transformation initiatives actually achieve their goals. Even when companies see the need, mobilize their forces accordingly, and act with good intentions, the overall capacity to seize an opportunity or dramatically cut costs—and then sustain that performance benefit—is simply not there.

For all the attention these efforts get within their companies, the positive impact tends to be short-lived, as individuals revert to past behaviors and spending habits. No organization can operate indefinitely in transformation mode; as normalcy returns, so too do costs and headcount. The program management office is disbanded; the “best and brightest” who staffed the various workstreams return to their normal duties—and the ...

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