Organisational transformation is a marathon, not a sprint. Very seldom is a revolutionary approach to innovation or transformation accepted or effective – as it is too confrontational, threatening or risky for some stakeholders. This is why many organisations embark on restructurings, and only a few attempt far-reaching transformations.
Stick to restructuring if your stakeholders do not visibly show courage and stamina, or if they focus merely on short-term wins. But if you want sustainable, long-term change, then far-reaching, evolutionary transformations are necessary.
This was the approach we took at Samruk Kazyna, Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund, which controls most of Kazakhstan’s state-run companies and whose assets account for about 60% of the country’s GDP. Back in 2014, when I was chief human resources officer (CHRO), the fund embarked on a massive transformation project, following nationwide efforts to reduce the role of the state in the country’s economy.
The transformation was pivotal to the role of the fund and was widely acknowledged as groundbreaking within the global sovereign wealth fund community.
Beyond simply adapting business processes and structure, it involved transforming the corporate culture, management and leadership style and skills development of its 350,000+ employees across the fund’s portfolio. The HR department developed a special plan for this purpose.
Three key elements led to the project’s success:
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