The 4 D’s of Successful Business Transformation

By John Sutherland

You cannot build successful transformation in a hurry. The best transformation projects are slow-cooked, not microwaved. In this article, John Sutherland introduces the 4D’s of successful business transformation.


Let me introduce you to Derek. He is the CEO of a Pan-European business in the manufacturing sector and a bit of a star, in my book. He has the wonderful skill of asking the right question at the right time and listening to the possible answers until he discerns the best way forward. And that is exactly the approach he has taken to his business transformation project. When you stand back and look at the narrative of his business’s transformation over the last year and a half, a clear pattern emerges. We call it the 4 D’s of successful business transformation.




Sounds like common sense? Good. But it is far from common for this sequence to be followed thoroughly. Most business transformation projects falter because of the “engineer’s problem”; a built-in tendency to rush to solutions once the problem or goal has been identified. In fact recent books have vied for the title of fastest transformation possible, and that is where they go wrong. You cannot build successful transformation in a hurry, a fact that Derek was well aware of (having been around the loop several times before). The best transformation projects are slow-cooked, not microwaved. Think “cooked in its own juices” rather than “only hot in the centre” and you will have the general idea.

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About the Author

sutherland-webJohn Sutherland is the Director of Strategic Resource, a firm that specialises on assessing, developing and supporting the work of senior teams. Strategic Resource works internationally and is based in the UK.


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