Incremental change vs. transformation: does it matter?

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The definition of “true” transformation is difficult and perhaps offers more of a guide to the project price tag rather than valuable insight on the overall result.




1.       A marked change in form, nature, or appearance.

Purists tend to be a little sniffy about what constitutes “true” transformation.

Just like purists in any walk of life.  The football purist who believes that the game should be played in the “right way;” the music snob who laments that kids don’t listen to complete albums anymore.

In fact, it’s variation that makes life interesting: Leicester City’s Premium League title win with low possession stats, a traditional 4-4-2 formation and a counter attacking style; the resurgence of vinyl in parallel with digital music services and wireless systems like Sonos.

And so it goes with transformation projects.  “Ah but is it a true transformation?” is a question that I’ve heard recently.  “Or is it actually just incremental change?”

The definition of “true” transformation is difficult and perhaps offers more of a guide to the project price tag rather than valuable insight on the overall result.

I have recently been working with some of our customers on projects that have broad similarities: dissatisfaction with suboptimal processes, a range of system pain points and inefficiencies across various work-streams, and a lack of system optimisation and automation.

The projects are in some ways characterised by their modesty.  There is no operating model change, no focus on central or regional functions, and the overall sourcing strategy remains the same.  In summary: fix the problems but make sure the changes are adopted in the business and sustained over time so that the business case can be achieved.

I actually think this is quite refreshing.  From a system perspective, you don’t need to throw everything away and start again.  And this type of project that can be seen as part of an evolution to new ERP, in-memory, and greater automation.

To put a label on it: EOAR.  No, it’s not a donkey braying, though that’s a good guess. Rather, it represents a flexible and modular approach to transformation:

·         “E” for eliminate

·         “O” for optimise;

·         “A” for automate

And the “R”?  Well, that’s “robotics”.  More on EOAR and the path to robots next time…!

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