The business world spins faster every day, and organizations that can’t outrun the pace of change risk becoming irrelevant. Business and digital transformation have gone from long-term luxury to short-term convenience to at-this-moment necessity. With so much to accomplish, companies are often tempted to implement a variety of digital projects and programs. Yet trying to do too much rarely works.

Maintaining a narrow focus leads to broader success. However, that focus shouldn’t be on a specific discipline or technology, nor even a specific business function. Rather, it should be on improving the adaptability and agility of their core operating models.

Our work with global enterprises has shown that most organizations need the same technical bones in place to embark on a transformation. The companies that experience the greatest success are those whose transformation orbits around their unique core operating model. By building that operational muscle, the team can more easily move its technical bones and rally around clear requirements and capabilities when progress falters or obstacles arise.

And obstacles will emerge. The path to digital transformation is fraught with challenges, beginning with the creation of new capabilities. These capabilities are organizational muscles that must be trained; they cannot be simply bought. Once trained, those muscles must also function at scale in order for the transformation to be successful.

One of the United States’ largest B2B marketplaces for medical commodities wanted to pursue e-commerce capabilities. After discussing the strategic objectives with the organization’s leaders, Wipro helped them recognize that the real need wasn’t a simple web enhancement. Instead, they needed to embrace a new business model and commit to becoming a larger marketplace.

Identifying the necessary capabilities, training them, and scaling them was not an easy process. Frankly, it’s not easy for any company. But it’s necessary. Transformation isn’t about optimizing the same old organization; it’s about creating a new business model, building the capabilities, and refining the operating model to deliver at scale. When you identify those target operating models and align them with outcome-based digital initiatives, you can begin to elicit transformational rather than incremental change.

Here are three steps companies can take today to start fueling their own transformation efforts.

1. Align Business and IT Teams

Conventional business wisdom drew distinct lines between business teams and technology teams. During the past decade, that “wisdom” has been disrupted into obsolescence. Look at the explosive emergence of fintech, insurtech, and healthtech. Technology is such a critical driver of value that the very word is in the sectors’ name. The first step to embedding technology is to create an operating model that brings business and technology teams together.

Many companies unify once-disparate teams by cross-leveraging objectives and key results (OKRs). When engineering has OKRs normally found in the product space, and when product owners have responsibilities that include technology, teams think about the common measures they can take to achieve the designed outcomes. This was unprecedented just five years ago, but it’s proven so successful that it’s becoming commonplace today.

2. Focus on the Company’s North Star and Agility

Interdisciplinary teams are only as useful as the outcomes they deliver, and those outcomes must be based on an organization’s unique goals or “North Star” vision. Companies’ North Star vision is typically tied to business goals or a larger business model transformation.

Without a well-defined vision — whether due to enterprise uncertainty or an industry in flux — companies should default to a vision of agility. By building agility into core processes, features, and products, organizations gain capabilities that enable a rapid shift when a new business model is identified. The shift is inevitable; organizations can either be prepared or caught off-guard.

3. Empower Effective Communication and Collaboration

Digital transformation is a journey of discovery that’s unique to each organization. Even if specific leaders have undertaken a similar transformation previously, there will always be new lessons to learn and information to share. Sharing is key; the entire organization needs to come along if it hopes to arrive at the intended destination. To excite the early adopters and convince the skeptics, companies must engage in and empower constant communication and transparency.

Through our work with many different companies, we’ve observed that communication and transparency can be greater catalysts to change than operational adjustments or new capabilities because communication is the cornerstone of collaboration. And without a collaborative cross-functional team — the muscle to move the bones — transformation is likely to fail.

The past decade has been dotted with high-profile success stories and hushed failures. What Wipro has learned during that time is that while every transformation is unique, all organizations can benefit from taking the three steps above and transforming their target operating models to reflect an outcomes-based approach and accommodate their digital future.

Are you looking for more information about navigating a successful transformation for your organization? Download our free ebook on how enterprises can embrace their futures with the adoption of cloud technologies.