Bunny-Hop Transformation: Four ways to avoid it

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

Actionable ideas to help leaders and organisations identify and act on, the right change-opportunities at the right time.

The word transformation means different things to different people. It can mean 'making something new from something old' or 'taking on a new form'. When it comes to organisations, I've noticed there are times when transformation adopts a euphemistic quality. For instance, leaders might say ‘We're embarking on a business transformation’but what they really mean is ‘Dang! We didn’t see that change coming. We’d better move fast or we'll be in trouble’.

I call these Bunny-Hop Transformations. The name comes from my early days learning to drive a manual car. Rev the engine…crunch the gears…lurch forward…stop suddenly…repeat. It’s frustrating, slow, uses a lot of fuel and makes your passengers think twice before agreeing to ride with you next time.

When an organisation embarks on this kind of “transformation” it follows a fairly predictable course. Suddenly an initiative that was barely on the radar goes into over-drive and becomes a major strategic program. It mows down previously high-priority projects, distracts operations and sucks-up the precious energy of subject-matter-experts and time-poor leaders.

Beyond these short-term impacts, if an organisation consistently follows the Bunny-Hop Transformation approach, it erodes the ability to create (and optimise) customer-value. That's because:

  • it exhausts your best people

  • time pressures cause leaders to prematurely leap to a solution without the required level of understanding. 

  • it places the customer-experience at higher risk as consequences are rarely given sufficient consideration

  • it costs more as poor/ ill-informed decisions cause significant re-work and retro-fitting of the solution

  • it weakens the core organisation as this approach often breaks operational processes and systems that were previously 'working just fine'

Of course, the real irony with Bunny-Hop Transformation is that it doesn’t actually ‘transform’ the business at all. When it's all over, there is rarely evidence of any holistic improvement in organisational capability and few signs that when the next big change comes along, the journey will be any better. Further, because repeated Bunny-Hop Transformation weakens the organisation's foundations, more investment and effort is required each time to create the same (if not diminishing) amount of value. 

So what can you do to ensure your organisation sees then acts on relevant change opportunities at the right time? And, how can you avoid falling into the traps of Bunny-Hop Transformation?

The following four strategies will take you in the right direction

Be crystal clear how your organisation creates value for customers

Knowing this will give your leaders and people a reference point against which to assess change-opportunities. If a change impacts customers’ perceptions of value, then it’s probably a change worth noticing and potentially, acting upon.

Make it easy to speak up