from the Journey


Notes:  00-L08

Transform to Set a Standard

by | Feb 25, 2021 | 00 Big Vision

As a business grows, it must one day transform to set a standard. This happens after it has grown through many cycles of change. In each cycle, its teams adapt to new needs, and so evolve separate work cultures and methods.

The business sees one day that too much of its operation is inconsistent. Its brand is not the same everywhere, its activities are inefficient and costly. The business must transform to set a standard that restores consistency and unifies aim.

For Example

LEVEL BUSINESS  (non-profit, public)

A government region is adopting a new service model and technology system. The region has 13 operating units. Each has unique business practices, but all use the same system. How can the region transform all 13 operating units to the same standard?

LEVEL BUSINESS  (non-profit, public)

A government ministry mandated the new service model and system. It needs to transform to set a standard across 5 regions, including the one above. Some regions have different operating and technology standards. How can the ministry achieve one standard?


An expanding global business has acquired 18 family-run operations in as many countries, each with unique business models. Now it has a new global service, but with 18 different operational models. It needs to transform to set a standard worldwide.

Transform to Set a Standard


The examples above all have the same priority Problem, only with increasing levels of complexity. Each one must begin by being clear on what matters. Most important is that brand, services and systems are the same.

Set a Standard for Operating Units

Here is what the regions might do to transform their operating units:

0  History   Capture history for all locations, organize and train each location

1  Vision 1   Design the transformation collaboratively with all location

2  Vision 2   Carry out the transformation concurrently in all location

3  Vision 3   Make sure all locations are fully operating on the new standard

4  Visions Beyond   Compare specific results of old service and new

5  Big Vision   Set a standard that everyone can achieve

The above approach could work for all regions, which would also create potential economies of scale and knowledge sharing between the regions. By comparing specific results, they can hone in on where to make further improvements.

Set a Standard for Regions

Here is what the government ministry might do to achieve a service and technology standard across all regions:

0  History   Gather info on unique operating needs, issues or constraints

1  Vision 1   Compare operations, draft the standard, collaborate to fit all in

2  Vision 2   Share knowledge and resources as each region transforms

3  Vision 3   Check alignment with the standard, tweak the standard or regions

4  Visions Beyond   Compare specific results, tweak the standard or regions

5  Big Vision   Set a standard that everyone can achieve

A standard should not be rigid but flexible. Its purpose is not to dictate rules but to help people maintain common ground. When it does that, it creates many benefits — economies of scale, shared knowledge and resources, and many efficiencies.

Set a Standard for Countries

To set a standard business model, the business would use the first bullets for operating units, dive into “Vision 1”, and collaboratively define a new business model. That is the way to arrive at a new model that all locations are able to adopt.

The global business can use the same approach as the ministry to transform its operating units to the same model. To set a standard across countries, the business would use the second bullets for the ministry, and change “regions” to “countries”.

The business and ministry can use similar approaches because both have similar Problems to Solve. Both need a standard for the same reasons, both must transform to set a standard, and both can develop their standard in the same way.

In the Examples

The ministry operating units were trained to manage their own redesign and transformation. During changeover, a central team provided 24/7 support, but not one operating unit called for assistance. All transitioned to the new model without incident.

The regions met to develop a standard. They outlined a framework of standards, discussed and made adjustments for all unique conditions (so that all regions could meet the standard), and finalized the standard, all within 3 weeks.

Check List

Check List section 2 Refine ends with 4 questions under “Check Your Big Vision”. You can  only answer “Yes” if you know what Specific Results you must define by collaboration in Visions 1 and 2 above. These decisions enable you to aim.

Check List section 2 Refine asks of what matters: “How will you know you have it?” This question is helping you set a standard for your Big Vision. Make sure your standard is enough to achieve what matters most, and is something you can confirm with confidence.

Task To Do   |  WEEK 8


Think of an operational change where you must transform to set a standard for a group of services, region, group of regions, country or group of countries. Using either set of bullets above, reflect on the activities needed to carry that out.

TIPS for Tasks

Because the topic is complex, you may by habit fall back on using analysis. Try to avoid that. Relax and use reflection to inspire your ideas. The more complex an issue is, the harder it is to pick key points out of everything you know. Help them bubble to the surface.

To further reduce the complexity, the business and ministry could divide the regions or countries into groups, based on Problems to Solve. To do so, they would treat History to Vision 3 as a phase, and run each group as a phase.

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