Attention Chief Transformation Officers, Offices of Transformation, Change Management Units, and Change Offices, and Projects of Future A,B,C,. Units of Massive Digitalisation, and Acceleration and…
Don’t change bits and call it transformation
Don’t polish costs and call it alignment
Don’t rearrange the chairs and call it renewal
Don’t kid yourselves
The quote is from the novel ‘The Leopard’, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, and I have been prompted by an article on a hot topic these days, how philanthropy at great scale may do more harm than good. Literally by changing things within the system as opposed to fixing the system itself.
The same applies to our organizations. We do Tweaking Programmes because we had learnt that continuous improvement is good. But continuous improvement died of exhaustion out of improving things a long time ago. Today, the markets have no patience. ‘Incrementalism is the enemy of innovation’, Negroponte of MIT Labs used to say.
Doing projects that ‘appear to change’ may be the worse you can do. If you are in the business of cutting costs, call it Cutting Cost Project. If you are in the business of Tweaking some Annoying Processes, call it like that. This is not Corporate Transformation, it is called good management, and it was invented about 40 years ago. At least.
Not a long time ago I was invited to see the serious commitment to digitalization of a very big technology company. Their slides talked about serious digitalization of everything, form processes to products. As a showcase, I was shown the change in layout and style of the HR and OD floor, now very funky, and modern, and with lots of screens. I was under the deep impression that this was a little example, and show of pride, a tour, before going to the meeting room to see the full presentation of their digitalization achievements. How fool I was. That was it. The commitment translated into furniture and interior design. Don’t think I am talking about a Mickey Mouse company. This was a very serious global one.
‘If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change’ means the more Tweaking Departments implement Tweaking (Change Management) Initiatives, the more nothing will change. As I have written before, the system prevents itself from solving problems created by the system. The Serious Transformation prevents itself by running a myriad of change management projects.
For nothing to change, some things must change. And that is a warning.
PS: I’ve seen many Agile programmes run in the most un-agile way. Elephants showing slides of gazelles.