Avoiding the Cliffs of Transformation

The work of transformation is uncomfortable but incredibly rewarding; team-members are often afraid of what change means, building alignment around a direction is difficult with so many cooks in the kitchen, and the unknown is often untested.

Below are some very practical disciplines and warnings that the Silver Rock team employs in the transformation processes we lead.

  1. Structure your time well.
    WARNING: If your working sessions are not structured or a well-intended pathway is not communicated, the Taskforce, body of engaged key stakeholder, will lose interest and not put their creative thought into transformation. This is not about having an all-day session and you are done.  This could take 4 to 6 well planned Sprints (working sessions) each full of highly intentional questions and content.
  2. Ask meaningful questions
    WARNING: There is a difference between asking the taskforce “what do you think about this direction?” and “what direction could we take that might grow the company?”Simply communicating the need for change is insufficient.  Instead, ask them specifically what they are trying to accomplish and what that success might look like. Getting the best output from the taskforce requires being targeted and forethought. Knowing what to ask is as important as how to ask it.
  3.  Assemble a broader working body:
    WARNING: Assembling a small Taskforce of 3-5 leaders that are nimble and can make fast decisions seems good, but can miss the mark and risk your organizations ability to execute on the new strategy.  We recommend a Taskforce of 15 – 20 people. The “Why” behind the larger number is 1) a broader functional experience base for knowledge input, 2) more influencers build enterprise momentum, and 3) different processers excel during different phases of the project. In another blog we discuss how to pick those members. Seek members that are leaders AND influencers within the company.  You may even consider board members or key patrons/customers. Your Taskforce should have a mix of strong resident knowledge, outside industry experience, functional expertise, and yes even a couple of nae sayers.  Nae sayers that are highly influential turned “yea sayers” are very powerful.
  4. It doesn’t need to be perfect the first time around.
    WARNING:  Not taking action for fear that you won’t get it perfect could be the worst decision you could make as a leader. Indecision speaks volumes.

Congratulations on your decision to take flight and transform the company.    This journey is exhilarating.

Scott Hippensteel is a Consultant and Advisor at Silver Rock Consulting. If you are looking to take a transformation journey and would like an experienced partner along the way please reach out to us at SilverRockConsulting.com or contact us at (414) 999-1120. Scott’s email is scotthippensteel@silverrockconsulting.com.


*Image used: “Cliffs of May Mono” by Phil Combe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Discovering Your Business’ “NEW NEXT”

As a leader nothing is more exciting or concerning than the realization that the direction you have been heading will simply not get the organization to its intended goal.  Your options – change, suffer mediocrity, or worse, witness your organization’s decline.  What does the process of discovering your New NextTM look like?

The purpose of this blog is to provide a few guiding principles that will support your effort in this journey. Regardless of whether you are a large, midcap or smaller organization, the concepts outlined below are relevant across all sizes of organizations and transformation initiatives.


Getting Started-convening the Executive Council

The first step of any great transformational process is building your case for “why.”  Yes, it takes a village to bring about transformational change, but it always starts with a leader.  As the village leader you must call the Council (Executive Leadership) together and help them see “why” transformation is necessary.  Knowing that the road ahead will no doubt be wrought with challenges, it will be important to have your Council behind you as you move forward. The Council provides trusted advice, leads the effort alongside you, and their support will add weight to the importance of the project.


2 Key Aspects to a Successful Transformation Process

How many times have you been involved in a strategic planning process where what you were being asked to do was unclear and the results less motivating and unsettling?  We hear the smiles!  At Silver Rock we guide our clients to consider three main principles when starting this process.

1) Assemble the Right Working Team (Task Force)
Assuming the change you are seeking to bring about is throughout the organization, pick the influencers and leaders that have a mix of skillsets:

    1. Strategic Thinkers: You want folks who understand the complexity of the situation and are able to create a vision for where you want to go.
    2. Action-oriented doers: This team must include those who have the ability to map out the tactics and execute on them.
    3. Mix of Experts: Your team should have experts from the relevant industry but who have disparate industry experiences.
    4. Transitional and Transformational decision makers: During a transformational process you will need people who can immediately move into your New Next, as well as folks who can leverage a strong institutional knowledge and build the bridge into your desired future state.

This team becomes the Taskforce that works to drive change. While you will likely seek out team members who are willing to change, it is a good idea to include a couple of naysayers. Especially if they wield influence within your organization a naysayer turned yeasayer is an immeasurable asset. Not to mention their dissent is the fastest way to work through challenges. Yes, they do have their place.

Lastly, when considering who needs to be a part of the process, it is important to note that forward thinkers and those with institutional knowledge can and need to be sequenced as needs vary during the different stages of transformation.

2) Employ a “Co Creation” Process

Transformation needs to be radically inclusive to increase speed to results.  Involving the right villagers in the process helps your team know that their voice is heard, and can facilitate a smoother transformation.  Co-creating allows (1) the key stakeholders and experts to be at the table together sharing influence and power, and (2) provides space for innovation within the boundaries of a leader’s vision.

Silver Rock employs a proprietary Co-Creation ProcessTM that is built upon our years of experience as executive managers and our learnings from our work with our clients. Based on leadership objectives, our process is designed to draw out the ideas and expertise from your team together with our experience to build a strategic framework for growth.  In our experience co-creation results in greater buy in, higher momentum and a faster implementation process.


Final Thoughts

As the leader of your village you are likely to feel the anxiety of transformation most acutely, as well as experience the rewards of transformative growth for your company wholeheartedly.  We invite you to reach out to Silver Rock so that we may work with you as a guiding partner throughout this transformation process.  We are excited to help you and your team realize your New NextTM.


Written by Scott Hippensteel (November 20, 2019)

Silver Rock’s Co-Creation ProcessTM and New NextTM are trademarks of Silver Rock Consulting.

Leveraging your Silver and your Rock

Business transformation is both an opportunity and a risk. Transformational Change can lead to exponential growth, but can also trigger societal opposition, bankruptcy, and in a worst-case scenario, obsolescence. How do you know what to transform, and when?

At Silver Rock Consulting we think about transformation with our clients every day. We use our company’s name to frame the conversation around transformation:

  • Rock – the parts of your organization that are core to who you are including your competencies, values, legacy, success elements of your heritage. Occasionally, these may experience transformation but more often than not, they will remain the same and they serve as the North Star by which you plot the rest of your strategy, and the foundation upon which your company is built.
  • Silver – the parts of your organization that are being refined and transformed to shine a better light on your core and reflect your brilliance. As you or your organization experience the heat of change silver is refined as you transform.

We use “silver” and “rock” to help teams understand the fences within which transformation can take place. In 2018 Silver Rock was helping a major health care provider transform and grow one of its key service lines. This line served as part of the bedrock of the organization and was an important priority to senior leadership. Part of the core DNA of the organization led them to serve all populations regardless of patient ability to pay.

The leaders and influencers participating in the Silver Rock Strategic Growth Transformation process (to be discussed in a later blog) were working through how to grow the businesses, while remaining true to their core values. The breakthrough came when the team anchored their strategies on the core elements of their heritage. After reminding themselves of their vision and aligning the strategy’s direction with the organizational vision, the team quickly settled on the strategic growth framework. Their vision was their rock, but the growth strategy with which they honored that heritage was their silver.

Simon Sinek talks about having an infinite vision that cannot be swayed by the tides of external pressure.  At Silver Rock we work to help entities and individuals identify their infinite visions, and what can change and transform around it.

Are you experiencing the pressure of transformation? Join us for a conversation to explore where we might be able to help you refine your silver, unveil your core “rock”, and evolve into your New Next.


Written by Jacob Hamalian (October 30, 2019)


In business, change is constant. As a leader, if you are not regularly considering how to transform and adapt, you are risking organizational obsolescence. At Silver Rock Consulting we use business transformation to describe “the fundamental reimagining and shift from one form of existence and operation to your New Next.”

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Scott Anthony (click here) described three kinds of transformation:

  1. Operational Transformation – “doing what you are currently doing, better, faster, or cheaper”
    (e.g. a traditional brick and mortar company selling online)
  1. Operational Model Transformation – at Silver Rock we call this Business Model Transformation – “doing what you are currently doing in a fundamentally different way.”
    (e.g. a Healthcare company determining what kind of a relationship it wants to have with its customers, and the experiences needed to foster that relationship)
  1. Strategic Transformation – “changing the very essence of a company”
    (e.g. an organization shifting from a driver of profit to a provider of a social good)

Each type of transformation plays a role in the life of a company and its stakeholders, whether for today, or 10 years from today.

As you consider transforming your organization, there are a number of key questions you need to ask yourself:

  • What is driving transformation? This is the “Why” of the transformation. The motivation behind the effort to transform your organization can provide clues as to the type of transformation needed and help you answer some of the other questions below.
  • What type of transformation is necessary? Considering the kind of transformation needed can help you;
    1. Efficiently apply resources that are commensurate to the opportunity and challenge. Your company cannot afford to transform your whole organization every 6 months, and when you are ready to transform you will need to ensure that you have freed the needed resources (time, talent, treasure) to guarantee a successful transformation.
    2. Ensure the appropriate bridging between transformational types. Often one type of transformation begets the other and there is a need for integrating and sequencing the two. An out of sync process can unravel the effort.
  • What will tomorrow bring? This is the futurist view. It is a given that all transformation must be market-driven. Not just in response to current trends but forward looking to remain market-relevant and desirable.
  • Who needs a seat at the decision table and why? The dimensions of influence and power are rarely all concentrated in the same few people. One key consideration here is: some of your team members are transformational players, while others are transitional players. On your team you want folks who are forward thinkers, have deep institutional knowledge, are the drivers of change, have influence, or are doers.  We will discuss this further in the weeks to come.

The hardest part about transformation is rarely uncovering where you want to go, but helping employees and team members make the heart-shift and mind-shift needed to join the effort and move the ship in the agreed-upon direction. The more strategic your transformation the more important it is to invest in the mind and heart paradigm shift.

In our next Silver Rock blog, we will talk about the juxtaposition and tension in transformation between innovating and protecting the core.

Reimagine your New NextTM

Written by Karen Hung (October 2, 2019)