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.
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
todays problems, 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
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
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!)
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).
Is your Transformation
capability experiencing “Good times” or “Bad times”?
Is your Transformation
capability permanently in “Bad times”?
How will your Enterprise break
the Transformation Maturity Paradox?