Continual transformation is the new norm to stay competitive

Transformation is a trendy word that can conjure images of a phoenix gloriously rising from the ashes.  You rarely hear of a 'failed transformation' because when these things fail there are usually not a lot of people excited to talk about it.  

It can be even more confusing when change has been effected in name only.  This is how words like Agile and DevOps become blunted into meaningless catch-all's in a well-intentioned attempt to communicate that an organization operates or desires  to operate using best practices.  Unfortunately it prevents the reaching of potential when a flag is pre-maturely planted to declare victory.  

One way to reliably push forward a transformation is to be extremely diligent about eliminating waste and making regular investments in improving.

Waste Not

Transformation has an unearned positive connotation and can often generate waste.  Care must be taken to ensure everyone involved is making measured,  careful investments of their time.        

  • A transformation without ruthless prioritization generates waste
  • A transformation which stands on implementing ceremony without improving the pace at which value can be delivered, the reaction time at which a course can be corrected or without relieving some bottleneck/constraint on the flow of value generates waste
  • A transformation which limits learning or squelches experimentation constrains the ability to continually gain new information and ideas which can guide better decision-making thereby generating waste through missed opportunities
  • A transformation which galvanizes everyone around the wrong metrics or metrics which can be gamed generates waste as teams and individuals strive to report results rather than achieve them

Don't Generate Waste

Every moment of waste is time that could have been spent on something else more important or impactful.

Invest Regularly

Building a habit of continual improvement separates the gamblers from the wise investors.  A wise investor makes regular, consistent investments in improvements, course-correcting as new information is acquired.  A wise investor uses historical data about the market, not as the end-all-be-all of what's possible, but as something to weight and factor into decisions.  This enables the flexibility needed to adjust, learn, and adapt strategy and tactics based on new learnings.  A wise investor implements small, achievable chunks of change to improve things a little bit at a time.  

Find small improvements, that build on each other, such that you can improve 1% every day for 100 days, taking tiny risks, to achieve a compounded improvement of  270%.  

Contrast that to attempting a high risk improvement will take 100 days to fully implement, assess, and in the end only lands you on at 200%, if it works.

The Impact of Software Delivery

One of the most important things that can be accomplished in a continual  transformation is improving the ability of a business to effectively serve the needs of their current and future customers.  Since technology is on track to be at the core of every business, one way to increase that agility is to improve software delivery performance.

Improving software delivery performance, as described in the book Accelerate, can be more quickly enabled by relentlessly working on continual improvement in a number of areas simultaneously.  With improved software delivery performance, a business improves their ability to react more quickly and reliably to the needs of the market, and I think that serves the spirit of what people are hoping to achieve in the latest trend of initiating large scale efforts for digital transformations.