Accenture Strategy research shows any given transformation can unfold in more than 26 trillion ways. And roughly half (49 percent) of C-suite executives report employees are among the most disruptive stakeholders. Given the number and complexity of choices and the unpredictability of humans in transformation initiatives, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to successful change. For FS firms, seeing clearly in 2020 will be about insight-driven transformation.

As we begin the year 2020, seeing clearly—having 20/20 vision—seems to be on everybody’s mind. From the Bank of England’s Vision 2020 project to the global initiative to eliminate avoidable blindness, there are campaigns galore calling attention to the obvious slogan across the world. 

In financial services (FS), I predict that seeing clearly in 2020 will be about insight-driven transformation. 

 Transformational change is not everyday continuous or project-based change. It gets to the heart of how we do things around here, how we deliver value for customers and clients, and to even who we are as a bank or insurer. Many of the common themes include cost reduction and rethinking work; revenue growth introducing new propositions and experiences; handling emerging risks such as cyber security; creating structural changes to the business (e.g. post-merger or divestment); handling major cultural shifts (e.g. becoming a data-driven bank); and shaping the future business with new platforms and digital technologies. 

And the workforce is a key resource and a vital part of any transformation initiative of FS firms. Yet, many executives are neglecting to use predictive insights with their workforce to foster successful change. 

Accenture Strategy research shows any given transformation can unfold in more than 26 trillion ways—this is particularly true in FS as we execute complex transformation at accelerated speed and in light of global operations, more complex clients and legacy complexity. And roughly half (49 percent) of C-suite executives report employees are among the most disruptive stakeholders. 

Given the number and complexity of choices and the unpredictability of humans in transformation initiatives, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to successful change. 

Using data from more than two decades of corporate transformations globally, Accenture Strategy has created Transformation GPS, an insight-driven approach that can map the change routes of individual firms. Measurement is based upon 10 main drivers of change, with two million data points collected from hundreds of global transformation efforts. The Transformation GPS has four zones to identify the performance of change initiatives: Off Track, Unsustainable, On Track and High Performance. 

High performers use data from their people early and often to direct and drive their transformation strategies. Using data allows leaders to sense emergent change, make decisions and iterate the change in a truly agile way. This is one of the key ways that agility is more than just a method and can be applied to even the largest transformations. These teams measure frequently to keep themselves on track, showing an eight to 11 times improvement in their transformation score, compared to firms that take fewer measurements and spend less time monitoring. Our analysis also shows high performers deliver three times higher EBITDA than the rest of their peers. 

The conventional approach to transformation relied heavily on transactional change drivers such as communication, even though they tend to have a small impact on performance. Our research shows that trust in leadership and emotion-related drivers influence up to 60 percent of performance improvement in large-scale transformations. 

Combining the leadership of your executive team with machine intelligence, while taking into account your employees’ feelings about where your asking them to go, is a complex task.  

Yet, it is wiser than the traditional one-size-fits all approach that took years to produce mixed results in fostering real change. 

Consider these fives steps as you identify the highest-probability path to a successful insight-driven transformation: 

  1. Measure change as rigorously as financials. Accenture research found that half (53 percent) of companies consider innovation an “ad-hoc” process.” In contrast, high performers employ innovation that is more persistent and requires the courage to change at a fundamental level. 
  2. Account for context. Situations and contexts for change are fluid. The factors to emphasize depend on where your organization is today—and they will likely change tomorrow. Data science can help change the road map as your situation and needs change. 
  3. Make invisible factors visible. Traditionally “invisible” factors like employees’ fear or frustration and team leadership’s ability to enable change hold great power because they can inhibit change.  
  4. Don’t just measure. Prioritize. Then Act. This means steering the transformation, accelerating or amplifying value, dialing back or intervening where there are issues, changing the plan and even stopping the transformationYou can’t measure your way to success. If your FS firm doesn’t have the cultural capital to change with the data, don’t squander investment in measurement. The value comes from real action, not a publicity campaign. 
  5. Find the courage to ask the tough questions. More than half (57 percent) of CEOs we surveyed report that employees have become powerful corporate stakeholders over the past three years. The days of top-down, command-and-control communications are over. Having the courage to listen to learn, rather than to respond defensively to the insights from the data, is key to engaging employees with respect and building trust. 

As we head into a new year and a new decade, speed and accuracy will be of the essence when it comes to transformation efforts. The future of workforce transformation is evidence-based. Successful FS firms will be the ones that have 20/20 vision in 2020 and beyond. 

To find out more about the future of transformation, please contact me here, or @andyyoungACN. 

To learn more, register to download: Decoding Transformation. 

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