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What Is Business Transformation, and How Can It Benefit Your Organization?

In his book Fragments, Greek philosopher Heraclitus coined the phrase, “change is the only constant,” based on his observation that the natural world was in a constant state of movement. Reflecting the constant variability of nature, businesses are also in constant flux, always adapting to change.

As the world around them adapts to discoveries, technology, and ideals, businesses are forced to adapt to the changing needs of their employees and customers. Fundamental changes to how companies operate and drive business performance are the essence of business transformation and can affect an organization as a whole or a specific part of it, such as a department or business unit.

The pandemic forced significant changes to how work gets done, and many organizations are now settling into how they want to operate moving forward and work with new disruptions such as artificial intelligence. Businesses are experiencing significant shifts and restructuring to be more adaptable in the event of future disruptions. However, employees are also demanding companies reevaluate how work gets done moving forward. Employee-driven changes have shifted working structures, policies, workflows, and even culture. The initial time of crisis has passed, and employees and customers alike are refusing to return to the old ways of working. They have seen what businesses are capable of and are refusing to accept anything less.

At GP Strategies, we believe that effective business transformation happens at the apex of three key areas: aligned vision and strategy that deliver results, modern learning strategies and experiences that optimize performance, and a well-functioning ecosystem of tools, systems, and technology that enable effective learning and transformation.

Business Transformation Strategy: How Leadership, Learning, and Technology Intersect

The type of transformation experienced during the pandemic (and now artificial intelligence) is what Harvard Business Review refers to as “hijacked transformation”—a fast-paced transformation brought on by someone or something outside of the organization itself.

As we move into the post-pandemic world of work, businesses now have the opportunity to evaluate the landscape and determine how they want to meet the demands of their employees, customers, and communities. Leadership, learning, and technology are the three key areas to consider when establishing a business transformation strategy.


Engaged leaders are the driving force behind any successful change. When on board, they communicate, mirror, and reinforce the new behaviors, driving employees to align to the new effort more easily. When leaders are disengaged or contradict the effort, the initiative is doomed to fail. Aligning leadership early on in the process through alignment workshops, future envisioning sessions, change training, and leadership development efforts can be the key factor in either success or failure.


Employee development is an important factor in retention, employee engagement, and productivity. How employees experience learning and maintain critical skills throughout the lifecycle of their employment must be evaluated during any business transformation experience. At times this may even be the center of a transformation.


As the world of work is changing rapidly, employees expect their learning experiences to keep up. Whether this involves an innovative learning technology or on-demand training, employees want the learning experience to be meaningful. As companies begin to drive transformation across their learning organizations, they consider how learning is structured, how they deliver content, and what type of content they provide.

Modern, engaging learning experiences also allow employees to learn and retain information more effectively. The demand for talent is high, and retaining quality talent within your organization is critical for ongoing success in our current “war for talent.”

Digital Transformation in Business

In our era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, maintaining a technological advantage is an endless battle. Maintaining this advantage requires a constant focus on what is available and how it can serve as a competitive edge. It is easy for technology to become the driving force for change, but it is important to remember that technology works best when it is used to support the existing strategy.

Digital transformation in business is the adoption of digital technology by an organization to digitize non-digital products, services, or operations. It is becoming increasingly prevalent in business transformation. The move toward a hybrid and remote workforce plays a significant role in the drive for digital transformation, but it is also a natural progression in an organization’s evolution through the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The goal of digital transformation and implementation is to increase value through innovation, invention, customer experience, or efficiency. Learning organizations are taking the lead in actively moving toward a more digital learner and instructor experience. New learning technologies and workforce expectations are transforming the corporate learning environment, promising powerful benefits to learning and development (L&D) professionals. Meanwhile, continuous market disruptions are pushing organizations to move quickly to integrate the latest tools and training technologies into their learning ecosystems.

From innovative learning technology strategy development and seamless platform integration to effective learning management and multi-platform delivery, a professional guide is invaluable, like an IT transformation services team. A partner can supercharge your learning environment by determining which technologies are right for your organization. Learning technology consultant teams help you ask and answer these types of questions by applying tried and tested methodologies that will align with your specific needs. The value of your learning technology is optimized when the right tools are identified for your problems and learning ecosystems are crafted to meet your learners’ needs.

Business Culture Transformation

Only 22% of business transformations succeed; a key driver of that success (or lack of it) is how businesses engage their employees and the culture of the organization. All organizations have an underlying collection of beliefs, values, and methods of interaction that create the organizational environment within which all decisions are made, initiatives are implemented, and actions are taken. It defines how individuals work and function within the company, making organizational culture a crucial element of ultimate success that can make or break a transformation of any size.

In the delivery of successful business transformations, understanding the individual corporate culture is critical to defining not only the logistics and details around the learning program itself but also how that initiative will be implemented to ensure successful delivery and adoption. The corporate culture impacts the employee’s journey with the change effort (including individual resistance to the effort, how that resistance is addressed by leadership, and policies and procedures that support the effort).

An open culture with engaged leadership and an effective flow of communication will more effectively address these challenges, allowing the initiative to be more successfully adopted. Cultures in which learning is not promoted or supported will require a different set of strategies to achieve ultimate success. With learning programs, for example, a comprehensive view of the corporate culture will impact the development of the program itself, how it is delivered, and the implementation plan. Many well-developed, best-in-class programs are rejected by an organization because of a lack of this in-depth understanding of the realities of the individual corporate culture.

Business Transformation Services

Business transformations are bold, strategic shifts that help organizations operate more effectively or make a complete strategic shift that organizations can then use to accelerate change and growth beyond typical incremental advancements. These transformations help organizations compete more effectively, become more efficient, or make a complete shift in direction.

At GP Strategies, business transformation is our core capability. Using our deep understanding of how people learn and perform, our business transformation consultants and change management experts help organizations define their ideal culture; ensure that culture is aligned with the future of the company; develop agile training systems that empower employees to continuously adapt, evolve, and respond to change with confidence and competency; and implement technology solutions that reinforce the strategic objectives.

Our holistic transformation ecosystem prepares your people for the future of work through a comprehensive process that draws from decades of experience and results. We’re also informed by the latest research on organizational excellence, job relevance, leadership development, and culture. Partner with us to develop a culture of engaged employees that produce higher performance and better, more profitable customer journeys.

About the Authors

Cheryl Jackson, PhD
Organization Design & Change Practice Lead
For over 15 years, Dr. Cheryl Jackson has been supporting transformational efforts in Fortune 500 organizations across a variety of industries including retail, manufacturing, healthcare, and food and beverage. With a doctorate in Industrial-organizational psychology, she combines her experience with scientific methodology and research techniques to create practical solutions that drive meaningful change in the workplace. Cheryl is driven to create effective solutions that help the organization as well as its employees thrive. Her focus is organizational effectiveness strategies supported by organization design, change management, assessment and development, employee engagement, leader development, and performance management. Cheryl is driving the development of the OD and Change Management practice within and across GP Strategies through the development of offerings and solutions, internal and external education, and supporting client initiatives. She remains actively engaged in the practice by contributing to whitepapers, blogs, articles, conferences, and podcasts on organizational design and change management and serving as a lecturer in the Master of I/O program at Texas A&M University.

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