Transformational strategy and sustainable long-term business growth

“We didn’t do anything wrong, but somehow we lost.” These were Nokia’s CEOs closing remarks when announcing acquisition by Microsoft. They did not do anything wrong in their business, the world, however, changed too fast!

In recent years, significant global challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia/Ukraine war, and increased oil and commodity prices, to name but a few, have emerged. These have resulted in unprecedented economic meltdowns calling for acute and fluid needs for organisations to re-think and craft strategies that can in the short term overcome and progressively outrun, these “storms” sustainably.

The emergence of new technologies has also brought disruption and increased competition across all industries threatening the survival and relevance of institutions.

Such emerging challenges are increasingly becoming certain. It is a matter of “when” rather than “if” they will occur. Consequently, effective leadership should focus on how to glide through them and prioritise these discussions during boardroom sessions to avoid being caught off guard.

The Board of Directors needs to be comfortable that the strategy of the organisation is agile enough to weather unprecedented events and capable of adapting to emerging technologies and a growing competitive landscape to achieve long-term sustainable growth. Achieving and sustaining growth in an increasingly turbulent environment needs the Board and senior leadership of an organisation to think proactively.

This is where transformational strategies come into play. A transformational strategy is a critical factor in ensuring long-term business growth. Growth creates value and benefits organisations and their customers, opening up new opportunities for employees and creating additional resources for innovation.

A transformational strategy goes beyond mere re-branding of products or services or making minor incremental changes in the existing offers. It involves continuous improvement in core business and functional processes and systems as well as fundamental innovations that will change how an organisation does business.

The strategy should be driven from the very top, by the Board of Directors and implemented by a visionary CEO who is willing to stretch and innovate to improve the performance of the organisation. The CEO should ensure buy-in from all staff through open communication and agreed objectives to achieve the desired results.

When putting together a transformational strategy, the Board needs to keep the following in mind:

  • Vision of the organisation: The strategy should be aligned with the vision and objectives of the organisation to ensure the long-term purpose of its existence is met.
  • Disruption: It should involve drastic changes in existing products, services, operating processes, and overall business model and prioritise the changes in order of importance.
  • Differentiation: A transformational strategy should differentiate the company from the competition and provide more value and benefits to the customers. Decisions on transformation should be data-driven and customer-centric.
  • Implementation and monitoring: A clear road map to execute the transformation should be in place as well as tools to monitor the progress of the transformation initiatives.

Change is inevitable, but transformation is a choice. An agile mindset and transformational strategy help an organisation react and pivot quickly when needed. The Board of Directors needs to have the foresight and be ever-vigilant to prevent the institution they are governing from being rendered obsolete due to unprecedented events and/or the fast pace at which the world is moving.

This is a guest blog which contains the views of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of the IoD.

About the author

Kahumbya Bashige,

Governance and leadership expert

Kahumbya is a chartered director and a seasoned professional in governance, development finance, fundraising, commercial banking and corporate finance.

She is an elected member of the Council of the Institute of Directors, a body that acts in an oversight and advisory capacity of the Board to ensure the delivery of the objectives of the Institute. She is also an Independent Board Member and Chairperson of the Audit Committee of CRDB Bank Burundi S.A. She has extensive international experience having worked for four different multinational institutions namely Citibank, Deloitte and Touche, African Development Bank and Shelter Afrique.

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