Won’t Be Boring
Basically business transformation is about companies making clear fundamental changes to their operating model. These efforts could be focused on the whole business end to end or in part based on a particular cost center. When I think of transformation the first area of business that comes to mind is IT. For this post, I’ll write about IT.
Business Transformation Information Technology
The costs of running a business are very high. The promise of outsourcing and virtual computing is costly and requires investment. The cost pressures on the CIO are based on targets invented by C-level executives that have a three line understanding of technology. Most senior executives even in technology companies don’t have the ability to keep up with everything. At some point things look easier to fix and deliver through the lens of abstraction.
A few months ago, I met with CIO’s for a round table dinner. I heard “Yeah, my boss doesn’t get it.” People ask “If I can do this at home, why can’t it be like x at work”? The answer is, at home you are responsible for yourself and you can make mistakes and choices that impact you and your family. At work, you have to think about the company, your people, the customers, the clients, regulation, compliance, and .. It isn’t your house. One bad thing can cost millions of dollars or put your business at risk.
Transform.. Transform ..
If a caterpillar were conscious during transformation, I can’t imagine the hell that would be. Yet we use the concept of the butterfly to describe transformation like it is some beautiful thing. Companies are transforming with intent and vision but I think many leaders see the butterfly and not the caterpillar. They want to start this process, liquidate, melt, change, reform, and emerge as the butterfly without realizing they won’t be able to sleep through it.
I think there is good intention and the market is demanding action but I question the real value. I also question the sacrifices that companies make. Yes, we need change. We must keep up with change and we must remain competitive but change isn’t a wholesale rip, shred and rebuild.
Ain’t No Stopping Progress
Back in 2007, I was involved heavily in Service Oriented Architectures. The promise of SOA was to leverage web services in a highly organized way to compose digital capabilities. The idea was good but the execution required religion. SOA is not spoken of today because it was not practical in reality. Hmm, let’s see … What else did we talk about back then? Oh yeah! Cloud computing! I was working for the DoD at the time and I was part of the Cloud Transformation and the government was trying to beat the industry on agile concepts and cloud and SOA and .. The problem for all of these concepts is consistent. In order for any of these to work, we need to have rules and controls. The rules being the process, the policy, the standards, the best practices and the clarity of consequence. Here is the reality.
When you go “agile” you give up something. The something depends on how far you have gone into agile methods.
When you go “cloud” you give up something. It depends on your business but in some business cases, you can give up control of almost everything.
When you “transform” you are changing and ripping, melting, liquidating, shredding and rebuilding. All of this while “wide awake” and this sounds a bit hellish to me.
Should Companies Transform?
Any organization should seek to change and keep up with the needs of business and the customer. It is important to have some clear distinctions as to what to change and when. It is important to make the right investments and understand the consequences. It is important to set boundaries and measures. Beyond all of this, it is important to understand what the company as an organizational entity seeks to be. I see transformation today a lot like the Winchester Mystery House . Many things are being done and it is indefinitely changing dramatically but you have staircases that end at walls and windows that open to brick. It winds up being a side show.
Change or die? I can think of plenty of organizations that should seek stability over trans-formative change.
Where are Heading?
Transformation today is really leveling the playing field in many ways. The core cloud services are all pretty much the same for most companies. Operational differentiation is being normalized by outsourcing. Think about it… I hire a consulting firm, they come in and say “hey, this is how your competition does stuff.” then your company is like “I want some of that and I can’t be left behind.” Then both companies are doing the same thing. This goes on and on. A few years ago, I was at an Accenture site and they had paper thin walls with post it notes on doors that said “company x.” Then next room over had another company and so on. On top of this they would off load workers between projects. The NDA’s are for the moment. Any technological competitive advantage is minimized. Cloud providers are creating generic services and selling them via subscription. Every company gets some of the same. If you don’t think that technology and core services aren’t important for service delivery at the business customer / client side, you should be selling self destructing paintings at Southeby’s.
What Should Be Done?
Odell Beckham Jr just secured a 5 year contract for $90,000,00. No amount of AWS technology is going to help the NY Giants and they know it because they face the reality that football is a FULL CONTACT SPORT based on TALENT. They need to keep the talent in order to be successful. Could you imagine they hire Odell for a game and then he leaves and goes to another team and then comes back and so on.. Nope, he has talent and they want it and they pay for it. Business seems to do something like this for very senior executives but they don’t realize talent down and across. They look at everything as an expendable commodity. The problem for them is that they have a bunch of Odell’s they are letting go and they just don’t know it. Transformation should stop and it should be a focus on the “body of business” in other words, corporate leaders should push back on investors for cost center cuts. Leaders need to stand up for their teams and talent. Transformation should be inside the innovation practices. Knowledge Management, Enterprise Architectures, Cyber and internal consultancies require investment and committed resources. Stop with the experiments and seagull consultation. (Seagull consultation is when you pay a bajillion dollars to a consulting firm to come in make recommendations and leave). A renewed focus on loyalty to the workforce and investment in the betterment of the people. This also requires clarity from senior leadership on where the company is going. Yeah, there is more but this isn’t a book.
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These are my personal views written on my personal time on my personal blog. In no way shape or form do they represent my employer, my wife, kids, parents, siblings, people I know, places I go, the businesses I worked for in the past or anyone else but me. The purpose of this blog is to learn, share, and grow.