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Another Transformation initiative, REALLY!?

For anyone that knows me, you’d know I very seldom formalise my views of the world, but this transformation thing has been bugging me for some time.

Before I get stones thrown at me, I’m not saying I’ve solved it personally or as a business – we have some way to go before we achieve the desired alignment internally as well as with our clients. At this point, all I’m saying is that Transformation initiatives creates more harm than good in a world that needs to adapt like never before.

While the word Transformation is often used in isolation, it may have a word such as digital, technology, agile or business thrown in front of it.

  • Digital Transformation
  • Technology Transformation
  • Agile Transformation
  • Business Transformation

Let’s scrap the search for a strong definition of Transformation from the big strategy consultancies or renowned academics – this has been done a few times, the definitions aren’t consistent, nor have they created alignment amongst the c-suite. This is not too dissimilar to words like IoT, Agile, Human Centred Design, Robotics, AI and the like. Perhaps a bigger article should be in the pipeline on how good marketing behind a big word can create a whole industry of experts doing different things that might not even solve the right problem. I wonder who is investing in the creation of this PR…

Have you ever heard about Amazon undergoing a Transformation initiative? Yes, they have only been around for 25 years and yes, their business model continues to evolve but I doubt they kicked off an initiative to:

  • embed lean into how they think about fulfilling customer orders;
  • deliver a delightful customer experience across all parts of their business or
  • use data for all key business decision making

So, if we believe Amazon is successful today and we believe they have what it takes to be successful in the next 100 years, can that be enough to say maybe transformation can never be a one-off initiative? Yes, calm down all the statisticians out there, I know one company isn’t a big enough sample to conclude anything, all I’m asking is if Amazon was the only company in the world, could we live with:

Companies will only survive if they evolve and to do this, they need to embed a new mindset. A mindset that incorporates the required behaviours that they believe will best place the entire company to understand their customers and deliver an experience that is better, faster or cheaper than the competition.

So, if you have a product or service that isn’t delivering on your customers’ needs, don’t kick off a transformative initiative to fix that product or service. Instead invest the time to work out what was holding your team/division/company back from realising this for themselves and solving it before you even knew it was a problem.

This work is far harder to execute and is contextual to every environment, however if done properly the outcomes carry a far larger impact on an organisation than your typical transformation initiative.

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Sean Heydenrych

Sean Heydenrych

I have worked across a number of industries as a consultant and internal employee, solving problems and delivering change across people, process and technology. I have a passion for complexity, working within dynamic ambiguous environments and understanding change across the entire organisation.

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