Digital Transformation has a problem. Transformation means massive change or at least it sounds that way. If you said to your spouse, I want to fundamentally transform you, how do you think they would feel. It doesn’t sound good. At least when you are the other side.
Transformation has a brother named Fear of Change. Most of us don’t like change. Say about 10% do and 90% are quite happy the way things are. Things are comfortable. Why do we need to change? What’s wrong with the way we are doing things today? Maybe just a few tweaks here and there.
Transformation also has a sister named Change Management. Change management is difficult because it starts with “the need” to change and the challenge of “I don’t want to”. Running a marathon is daunting. Two tenths of one percent of the U.S. adult population accomplish it annually. It may not seem worth it considering all the effort that will have to be put into it. I will have to get up early. Training will be painful. I won’t have time to do other things I am used to doing. Power walking a few days, like I am doing now, seems more attractive. A marathon runner only runs 3 miles a day on average (with one long run a week and 2 days of rest) to get ready for the 26.2 miles need for the victory. It takes 18 weeks to get ready and finish.
The challenge with “change management” is that it is typically used on minor or small scale initiatives. Digital transformation is an extreme approach that is not easily achieved. It requires an approach to change that can handle massive number of initiatives and heavily culture oriented change.
There is an approach that may be helpful. It is called the “Agile Methodology” and it is used extensively in software development. Building a new application or significantly updating an existing one is an overwhelming task. This approach essentially breaks the massive number of tasks down into small deliverables that can be accomplished in three week increments. When you line up the sprints one after another, after a while you have made some significant changes. It is a little more complicated than I make it out to be but a fundamental level, the approach works.
If it wasn’t a “technology approach”, we would call it change management but that might be mislabeled as well. This methodology actually moves the ball down the field, incrementally, toward a touchdown.