Four parts to transformation

Last week, I wrote about my company’s thinking about social media, technology and why it’s time to transform.  Here’s another idea worth elevating and reblogging to continue the discussion.

Today, the technology is trivial. Until you put it into the context of business process and then you find that much of it is substandard for enterprise use. The people problem hasn’t changed one iota. That is the real challenge. All the rest is just fluff.”

That’s true, but only a quarter of the solution.  The way I see it, we need to address transformation from four distinct perspectives:
  • Systems thinking and design
  • Human resource management 
  • Process reengineering 
  • Technology infrastructure 
Great work has been done in these areas to help us think about the key issues, from Senge, Forrester, Porter, KanterClawson, Hammer, Champy, and others.  Today, we should consider the application of classic business theories in the context of today’s operating environment.  Recontextualizing business, so to speak.

Technology isn’t trivial.  Looking back, I started working with companies in the heyday of client/server architecture related to ERP.  Now we appear to be moving towards a client/cloud model.  Infrastructure needs to be planned with foresight so we don’t run into critical errors (Y2K!) and flexibility to integrate new tools.  New applications emerge constantly.  How will we adopt and adapt?

Process reengineering has been misappropriated over the years and pigeonholed as “downsizing.”  The original definition of reengineering from Hammer & Champy is “the fundamental rethinking and radical redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in critical, contemporary measures of performance, such as cost, quality, service, and speed.”  Now we must bring our customers and prospects into our communities and engage deeper than a transactional basis.  Are we ready to expand our connections?

The way people think about work has remained fairly static for most of the 20th century and into the next.  Sociologists say that the concept of work/life balance comes from a world where separation was necessary; work was a dull, necessary evil to support goals that society established for a “normal” lifestyle.  Today’s workers want to merge their passions and profession.  We should choose where we work with an “opt-in” mentality and opt-out just as easily.  Isn’t that what at-will employment means?  But what company is ready to foster this type of open culture?

Strategy guides our business intent to create and sustain competitive advantage.  There’s an old joke in strategy.  Two guys are in the woods being chased by a bear.  One guy says to the other, “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you.”  But what if the path we’re running on ends in a dead end anyway?  Shouldn’t we focus on building sustainable ecosystems in addition to positioning within the landscape?

This ends a pretty intense week of reflecting on your comments.  Thanks for participating.  I feel that we’re off to a great start of a new conversation.