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Issue #3. Transformation is just a word, unless...

Cyril Lagrange
Cyril Lagrange
Measure the invaluable to make better decisions.
Most of what we need to know is invisible, so long we take an open and bold perspective to identify and measure it. Building leadership and innovation capabilities, changing behaviors, tapping immaterial assets are invaluable linchpins to grow sustainable human and business ventures.
#transformation #digital #change #feedbackloop #unlearning #strategy #framework

Hi Friends!
Transformation is a misleading term. It often exists only in the mind and in the storytelling of senior management, tech leaders, or IT solution vendors of all sorts. Unless! Unless we grasp the underlying dynamics of the process.
What interesting point could this newsletter make about business transformation and its digital component? There is no single day without a stream of publications, webinars, and all kinds of discussions about it.
If transformation is a permanent move, why worry and talk so much about it. Then, why not take it for a given, keep moving forward and do something about it every day?
Because transformation is not really about change, at least as we conceive it, i.e., as external forces to react to and the magic of a new bread of tech solutions that would make our lives much more manageable.
(Un)learning first
What data to start with? How to measure where to start, progress, and outcome, not to mention value created? What does it take to engage a truly transformational process, whether individual or on broader organizational perspectives?
Transformation is learning from the past to determine what we are heading to.
Double learning loop.  Adapted from Chris Argyris & Donald Schön (1978)
Double learning loop. Adapted from Chris Argyris & Donald Schön (1978)
If something doesn’t work, that means that old recipes, ideas, beliefs, habits, and something have to die first to make a new reality possible. Without unlearning, nothing new shows up.
In my opinion, the unlearning and adjustment process underpin significant digital upend or creation in the realm of business or big organizations.
The components of digital transformation
Grounded in the double learning loop presented above, I have experienced that digital transformation, including the organizational dimensions, rests on five core components (see figure below).
On the top layer, many transformation programs are always firmly at risk of failure when Senior management overlooks the importance of an upfront, complete and sincere assessment about three core challenges:
  1. Digital proficiency of people and need for acculturation
  2. Existing and target analytics and predictive capabilities
  3. Operation target model and use-cases enabled by digital capabilities
Each component (colored boxes) comes with its set of core questions and would require a specific approach depending on each organization’s initial situation and position.
Let’s dive into the invaluable domains (gray boxes) underlying the digital transformation.
Digital assets and capabilities are a means to an end. Any articulated corporate strategy now comprises the digital dimension. As the digital investments and new infrastructures change the whole paradigm of the companies (e,g, geographies, customer acquisition, operating model, talent acquisition), the Senior Management has a unique perspective to revisit and challenge the usual beliefs and internal culture.
Data Insights
Capacities to execute derive from
Behind the pervasiveness of digital solutions and IT architecture, processes matter. End-to-end uses cases concerning all front and support operations entangle processes. Digital improves integration, data security and monitoring, streamlined tasks and activities dramatically.
Data-driven decisions
Relevance and availability of the correct data, quantitative and qualitative, for the right persons at the right time, the better are the decisions. In fast-paced environments, in operations with numerous customers a day (ex. service center) or for activities based on big data (e,g,.banking system, fraud detection), building robust data architecture, making it available through operations in a user-friendly manner, and developing Enterprise Performance Management framework extended to Business Intelligence capabilities provide an edge to the teams.
The tailored proposition to each component articulates the change journey and identifies what the transformations require to do in a specific context at a given time.
Transformation unravels to embody beliefs, experience intentions, and measure the value created through change actions.
But change happens through the ability to keep on playing out the feedback and learning loops at three specific levels of the framework showcased in the precedent section.
Continuous adjustment
Reality often nudges us to focus on outcomes. Struggling to intensify, to do more and faster is tempting (first-level learning process, action-result-reaction). On the contrary, continuous adjustment is far less hazardous and costly than the disruption temptation or blunt addition of new technology. Ongoing adjustments enable people and teams to cope with complexities: slight iterative but better-mastered improvement, smooth execution, more cohesive interaction with stakeholders and partners, faster detection of cognitive bias, regular feedback on poor or incomplete data.
Fact-check intentions
Going beyond the first learning loop comes the possibility to question the initial intentions. Once we gather enough data, experimentation, and action feedback, it is much easier and insightful to reframe our initial assumptions, causal analysis, and strategic intentions. This second level of the learning loop permits to revise initial choices. Continuously adapting the system of business activities, the refining need of investment in digital capabilities enables a more substantial mastery of execution alignment with strategy.
Challenge beliefs and reframe
Going all the way to the deepest level of the learning loop, experimentation, data-driven feedback, and measurements provide a platform for questioning and upending long-lived beliefs, habits, and core values. Investments and mobilization in transformation programs should be a powerful incentive to revisit the long-term practices, beliefs held for intangible tenets, habits as a second skin, and positions held as a new stronghold. The music industry, Kodak, digitization of entire public sector service administration domains provides compelling examples.
Transformation is about change. Radical or iterative, deliberate or driven by external impacts, beneficial mutations merely draw from a deep sense of changing beliefs, habits and set new intentions. Quoting Robert Kiyosaki, a US entrepreneur, who put it in a compelling and provoking way, the change process and required engagement is all about intentionality, sustainability, and responsibilities for consequences.
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.
When invaluable transformation happens, something (ideas, beliefs, processes, assets, and so on) “has to die” or give way to a more desirable situation.
Liked it. Would you mind sharing it via email, Twitter, or LinkedIn? Contact me through my website to investigate and reflect with me from a professional perspective on your business challenges.
Also, you can follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
I help clients solve open problems, create value beyond financials, and achieve greater agility, as a B2B professional consultant in business and digital transformation.

Business, Digital and Agile Professional Services
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Cyril Lagrange
Cyril Lagrange @lagrange_cyril

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