Corporate Transformation: Why Internal Efforts Often Fail and How to Truly Incubate a New Way of Doing Things

Corporate transformation efforts often fail, and the main reason for this is an ineffective use of company resources. Instead of working on creating incubation programs that focus on internal implications, many companies are misguided in how they direct their initial efforts.

Why Internally-Led Corporate Transformations Fail

It is NOT hyperbole to say that most internally-led corporate transformations fall flat on their face. The statistics prove this. In fact, research found that roughly 70% of modernization and transformation programs fail in a given year [1]. A major issue identified in the research was a lack of enthusiasm and follow-through for the program.

Generally speaking, these internally-led corporate transformations are not a complete failure. There are typically a few things about them that go according to plan, but they don’t live up to their full potential. There is something left on the table, and that means that there is real potential out there that is not seeing the light of day.

Often, the shortfalls of an internally-led corporate transformation project come in the form of a lack of alignment between the people at the top of the organization and the everyday foot soldiers that must put it into practice. That disconnect creates friction and results in all sides failing to communicate effectively with one another. It doesn’t take long before it all starts to fall apart and the corporate transformation never truly manifests.

Yet another set of issues to be concerned about include:

A Lack of Technology Strategy and Vision Support by Business

It is one thing to say that you want to create a full transformation of your company. However, it is another to put it into practice. A technology strategy must support a business strategy: not vice versa [2]. Sometimes transformations are led by information technology or without sufficient engagement with business leaders, which can create hiccups in any plan.

Not Enough Knowledge Workers

Unfortunately, one of the reasons some companies cannot transform the way that they want to is not having the right knowledge workers needed to power that transformation forward. Too often a company’s available resources are assigned to the transformation effort instead of the best resources, those who understand the company’s future vision and are not incentivized by the status quo. As such, a lack of qualified resources is one thing worth considering when looking at why a corporate transformation has failed.

An Inability to Backfill Resources

Being stuck in a situation where one cannot easily backfill their resources means that the transformation will have trouble getting off the ground as well. Many times, resources assigned to the transformation are not fully dedicated to the program. They end up either trying to do two jobs or not spending enough time on corporate transformation activities. This is yet another hindrance that many companies face when trying to make a change.

Those are a few of the prominent reasons why internally-led corporate transformation projects so rarely work. There are other circumstances that can play a role in the derailment of a transformation plan. Much of this boils down to how the leadership sets up the transformation program.

What is a Generic Corporate Incubator?

The European Commission’s report titled Benchmarking of Business Incubators¬†laid out an excellent definition of a corporate incubator:

“…an organization that is able to accelerate the processes of new business creation by providing them with a plethora of services: from physical spaces for networking to IT equipment, from business support to integration opportunities” [2].

In essence, a generic corporate incubator is simply a space where employees have the resources they require to generate real results for the company they work for. They are offered not only the technological resources they require, but they can also tap the human capital that they need to get things done.

A generic incubator might help to resolve some issues within the company. However, it is not the end-all-be-all of the corporate incubation process. There is another step in the right direction necessary to create a better incubation space.

Digital Transformation Incubator: The Ultimate Goal for Corporate Incubation

Instead of simply collecting people together to brainstorm ideas for how to solve certain problems, a digital transformation incubator focuses on utilizing the technological resources available. Those may include:

      • Real-time data about customers
      • Feedback from previous customers
      • Social media data
      • Previous marketing campaign data
      • Internal operational data

The list goes on. The point is that those who work inside of a digital transformation incubator focus on how to solve their customer’s problems by using the data they have now and applying it to the issues customers might note. In addition to this, the participants within this incubator will look at how they can potentially update business systems to better serve their customers. After all, customer expectations are evolving at a rapid pace, so it is best to keep up with the times to create the best possible customer experience.

Benefits of Digital Transformation Incubators

The reality is, no business leader is going to invest in something unless they see the upside to it. Fortunately, the benefits of digital incubators make themselves readily apparent [3]. They include:

Leverage Existing Assets

Those that work within a digital incubator may recommend that their employer invest in new technologies. However, they might also discover hidden value in the existing assets already possessed by the company they work for. This means that the company might be capable of claiming untapped potential in things they already own.

Create a Culture of Innovation

Improving the culture of innovation within the organization is always a top goal worthy of consideration. Getting people to think in innovative ways can help them generate ideas that might never have come to the forefront otherwise:

Expand Upon the Company’s Vision

The overarching goals of the company can also be expanded upon and improved. Digital transformation incubators are a great place for this to occur. People within the incubator can see new ways that the company can advance its mission, and they can offer those insights to their employers.

Enable Rapid Design and Feedback

Too often, transformations aim to make big changes based on untested strategies. Instead, digital transformations should support agile testing of new business and technology strategies using those learnings to modify quickly while also further retesting them in the marketplace or within the company.

There is no question that businesses large and small still struggle to complete a full corporate transformation. It will remain a challenge to deal with if one doesn’t make some changes to how they approach the problem. Fortunately, now that you know how digital incubators can produce such significant benefits to a company, you can make better choices for yours.

Let Liberty Advisor Group Help You

These are just a few things companies should consider before undertaking a corporate transformation project. Here at Liberty Advisor Group, we can help you better understand the fundamentals of successfully implementing a full-scale transformation and how you fit into the process if you would like. Please get in touch with us for more information about this offering.


  1. McKinsey
  2. OP
  3. Bundl

Add insights to your inbox

Get the latest in leadership news delivered straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter.