Enterprise Transformation

A Pragmatic Approach Using POET


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The Timing Paradox barrier to getting an Enterprise to mature its Transformation capability is that at the point in time when maturation is required, there are no resources to effect the change, while when there are resources to effect the change there is no requirement to do so.

Bad Times

When the Transformation capability is stretched (generally because there are too many problems and issues to cope with for the time and resources available) there is no time or resources (and therefore no appetite - mandate) to spend any time or resource on maturing the Transformation capability because time and resource can only be spent on things that solves the problems of today, rather than preventing tomorrows problems.

A company I worked for was in this state and had employed a hard hitting Programme Manager to “sort it out”. I saw this as an opportunity, and explained that the reason they were in this state was because their Transformation capability was not mature enough and had started the fires they were now trying to extinguish, and therefore could I get some time and resource allocated to mature the Transformation capability to prevent this panic from happening in the future. Since he was a car lover I explained that the car (Transformation capability) that the Enterprise used was old and falling apart and that we needed to spend some resource improving it. His response?

“You don’t understand Kevin. We are just trying to get the car out of the ditch!”

- Senior Program Manager

He was right of course. All hands to the pump were required to stop the fires burning down the Enterprise. However, if this is a permanent state, someone (management) must grasp the bull by the horns, grasp the nettle, and divert some fire-fighting resource to fire-prevention (aka maturing the Transformation capability).

Most Enterprises find themselves permanently in this fire-fighting state. People do not have (or perhaps more accurately, are not given) the time, mandate, resources or inclination to do mature the Transformation capability.

Everyone is so consumed with driving the car (because that is how management drives them, motivates them, rewards them - if you are not driving you are wasting time) that no one with the power to improve the car (management) is bothered about improving the car. Depressingly, at the same time, Management tends to blame people for not driving the car fast enough and complaining that it’s taking too long and costing too much to travel from Lands’ End to John O'Groats. (When the car arrives in Dover!)

Good Times

So what happens when (if) an Enterprises Transformation capability is not stretched? Of course, this almost never happens as most Enterprises are permanently in the fire-fighting negative feedback loop. In my professional career over 35+ years I have never seen it. However, let’s assume that at some point the “Good Times” are upon us. Is it then possible to get time., resources and the mandate to mature the Transformation capability? In general the answer is “No”.

It could be said (by definition) if there are no problems being witnessed then the level of Transformation Maturity is sufficient and therefore does not need to be increased. So, it’s not a case of increasing Transformation maturity to deal with Transformation today (when times are good), it’s a case of increasing Transformation maturing to deal with Transformation tomorrow (when times are bad).


Questions to ponder...

Is your Transformation capability experiencing “Good times” or “Bad times”?

Is your Transformation capability permanently in “Bad times”?

How will your Enterprise break the Timing Paradox?

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