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The Business Transformation Podcast

Podcast 031 - Irina Bentu M&A and a post-emerging acquisition migration or integration - What industry experts have to say

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🎙️ Get ready to embark on an enlightening journey of business transformation with our latest episode featuring Irina Bentu, a seasoned veteran in both Business and Digital Transformation! 💼✨

Irina brings over two decades of experience, leading global transformation programs across diverse verticals from manufacturing to oil and gas across Europe. 🌍🛢️

As an MBA-qualified executive, Irina is passionate about driving change, innovation, and sustainable partnerships for continuous improvement in the business world. 💡🌱

In this captivating conversation, we explore:

1️⃣ Unraveling the mysteries of the M&A and post-emerging acquisition industry: where does the industry stand?

2️⃣ Irina’s unique approach to managing post-migration challenges.

3️⃣ Insights into hypothetical do-overs and alternative paths. 🔄💭

Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity to gain fresh insights into the business transformation industry! Tune in and stay ahead of the curve. 🎧

#BusinessTransformation #DigitalTransformation #InnovationInsights

"🎙️ Just had an incredible conversation with Irina Bentu on The Business Transformation Podcast. Her insight that "Change management is management. Management is also change management" is truly profound. Tune in for more gems of wisdom on navigating business transformation! 💼💎" #ChangeManagement #BusinessTransformation #WisdomFromExperts

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Heath Gascoigne (01:15):

If you work in strategy, development and implementation and work to ensure that the strategy is aligned to business design and technology, then you are probably a business transmitter. This is the show where we speak to industry experts and professionals to share their stories, strategies and insights to help you start and turn around and grow your business transformation. Welcome to the Business Transformation podcast, and in this episode, we are talking to one of those industry experts. We are speaking to Irina Tu, who is a 20-year veteran in business and digital transformation, who has worked across different verticals from manufacturing to oil and gas all across Europe on a lot of large-scale transformations. Arena, how are you?

Irina Bentu (01:59):

Thank you for inviting me. I’m really great. So, I’m excited to be here and to exchange with you some ideas. Yeah. So yeah,

Heath Gascoigne (02:09):

Thank you. Thank you for inviting you. Good to have you. Okay, so as we used to do, as we talk, we have a theme, and we talk about a couple of points. So, this theme we are going to talk about is m and a and particularly post-merger and acquisition, migration or integration. And so, for that we say, okay, is there industry, what is the industry doing at the moment? Have they got this right? Do they understand it? Is it working well? We have some examples there of where it worked well or not worked well, this post migration integration. Number two, is there a particular approach that you follow or take when you go into a client or your own client, your own business about how you manage the post migration or post m and an integration? And number three is now having 20 years, two decades experience worked all across Europe in these big, large-scale transformations. If you could do it again, what would you do differently if anything at all? Okay, so first up, the industry post migration or post m and an integration, what’s the industry doing? Are they doing it? Have they got a good handle on it, they doing it well? Is there room for improvement? Are there lessons learned?

Irina Bentu (03:27):

So, I think as in everything, yeah, there is the room for improvement. Yes. So of course, there are things that are done very well and things that could be improved from my experience. So, I was part, or I was leading post-merger integration starting like 18 years ago and until these days, and of course when we talk about 18 years ago, there were maybe not so much, so many things now about how to best lead such a change or what would be the tools to be used. There were a lot of trial and an error, which of course in time was really improved. I can say what I have noticed the past years, I think first of all it shouldn’t be underestimated in terms when you acquire a company or a business unit. Of course, we always talk about the culture. But when you talk about the culture, maybe seems like okay, it’s something don’t understand so well in the end, what is the culture?


It’s the way that people are used to work and the way they are doing leading all the processes and the way that they are also performing. So, what I would say, what I would give as a tip or a tool in case of a post-merger integration, the first thing is that you sit from the management team and the management team of the company or of the department or of the business unit which was acquired, and you work together on a plan. It’s very important that the plan is done together as a team and engaging all the key players from both of the companies because this is how we engage the people from both of the companies. And of course, we know that the ones that were acquired are in a more difficult situation than the company who has acquired them. So of course, if you do this from the beginning and you continue to do it and engaging them in the next month, this would be one of the keys of the success. Yeah,

Heath Gascoigne (05:45):

Okay. So, there’s a difference between the acquirer and the acquire. Okay. And sometimes there’s a friendly takeover or merger and then not so okay. And a different strategy for different situation.

Irina Bentu (06:04):

I think it’s because I have this lean six background and I’m very influenced by this. And I think when you talk about the transformation, you talk about lean and we talk and when you talk about lean, you talk about the transformation, the first thing that you need to figure out is what is the problem that you want to solve. So, when you make an acquisition or when you take a decision to start any transformation, you need to be sure about what is the problem that you want to solve where you don’t just need to jump into the solution because it might be that you’ll take all the symptoms and not the problem. So, if you think very thoroughly about the problem and if you analyze it, measure it, then of course it’s easier to decide in a team what are the solutions and what are the improvement measures that you want to take. Yeah,

Heath Gascoigne (07:05):

Okay. I’ll stop you there for a second. So, I all missed that, and I sort of said from the beginning that arena’s leading six sigma black belt or black belt. So, if you missed it, and I think what you’re saying is if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it. So, the first thing you said was that you need to find out what measure that you are trying to improve.

Irina Bentu (07:27):

Exactly, yeah. So, if we follow a little bit, because the linear, you put a lot of attention and a lot of effort into this phase of definition of the problem and measuring of the problem and then analyzing of the root cause. And I think this is what we can learn when we do even in m and or when we start the transformation to put more of focus on this part on definition measuring and analyzing before we do an improvement plan.

Heath Gascoigne (08:04):

I can imagine, and from my personal professional experience, that can be a where people want to stop and understand what the situation is today versus, oh, we’ve got this change in agenda and a vision, let’s just go for the future state. But you’re saying no wait, let’s understand the current state and let’s measure it so we know how to improve it. And even further than that, take it back to identifying the root cause and start from there.

Irina Bentu (08:35):

Exactly. So, this is how I normally start, and this is the very first step that you should do in a transformation. And then we go into aligning, discussing what is the vision and what is our mission and what is our improvement plan.

Heath Gascoigne (08:54):

Okay. Alright. So, before we get into that second question part about the process, what is the industry you think is doing right? They understand this, you said I think the cultural part, the cultural part, understanding the culture in terms of m and a and industry. Have they got that right or are they more concerned about dollar signs and ROI and how quickly can we get this integration going and no, we’re going to get some casualties and we should expect some casualties and some resignations and there’s going to be disgruntled employees? Is that all M and an activity, hunky dory, it’s working well, they don’t need to change, or they’re so focused on finances versus the culture, the people.

Irina Bentu (09:45):

So, in the past years this has changed a lot. And now from what I can see there is a lot of more focus on the sustainability of the businesses. And when I say sustainability, I don’t mean only ESG, but I mean also the people and how the people and the opinions of the people are considered to know in any transformation so that it doesn’t come only top down. So, I think this has changed a lot in the past years and I think if you just say in your vision that you want to improve the return of investment for your shareholders, this will not stand. This will not stand. And I think that people are more and more attracted to the companies who are much more than this who wants to bring something back to the employees and the society which they live. So, it’s not only about the money. Yeah, definitely

Heath Gascoigne (10:51):

Not. So, some, what is it? It’s the not say society but the values.

Irina Bentu (11:00):

Exactly, exactly. The values. So, it’s not only what we do is how we do it. And what I have seen is that, and I would definitely encourage this because I have seen some good examples, when you define your objectives for your team, for your executives, for your managers, you shouldn’t put justice smart objectives what to do or what do you need to achieve in terms of KPIs, but you should put also how to measure how they will achieve it. Because this how is very linked to the values of the company. So, if you don’t exhibit values when you deliver on the performance, then in the end you don’t have a place in that company. At least this is how I see things. And I think here is much more to be improved and can be improved that we look also on how we do things not only on what we do.

Heath Gascoigne (12:04):

Yeah, focus on the how. Okay. So, you’re seeing in terms of a trend over time and from the beginning of your career, lessons are learned, there’s more tools available and the shift has gone towards the people part about how their role maybe in the transformation but also how they feel through the transformation. And then making sure that those goals or objectives have got that people element in it, the cultural element, their values not so much the hard and fast structural, as you said, the smart nor the ROI. But I like how you said it, how part, how are they achieving them? How are they achieving their goals? How are they achieving their objectives?

Irina Bentu (12:50):

Exactly, exactly.

Heath Gascoigne (12:53):

Okay. So that’s what the industry is doing and probably the converse of that is what they’ll be doing wrong is probably if they were, as you said, if it was just focusing on the financials without any consideration for the people element, then that’s probably what they’ve learned over time that there’s not a winning strategy. You probably get some unintended casualties because you are focused on the hard-liner fundamental financials and then you might lose some staff because they don’t feel their place in the organization anymore.

Irina Bentu (13:26):

Exactly. And I think especially in a case of an m and a or a transformation, you need to be careful from the executive team that you don’t lose your key people. So, this should be a very important objective in an m and or in a transformation that you keep your good people and your key people, and you don’t lose them on the way. And I think here there is something to still be improved in how we treat this and who is treating this. Because normally there is sometimes the tendency that we say that change management is something to be done by HR or by the transformation,

Heath Gascoigne (14:14):

Which is not the case?

Irina Bentu (14:16):

Change management is management. Management is also changing management. So, it needs to come from,

Heath Gascoigne (14:22):

I’m going to quote you on that.

Irina Bentu (14:23):

Exactly. It needs to come from the CEO, it needs to come from the C level, and they should walk the talk. Of course, the people who support with some tools from HR or from the transformation team, they can support with some tools, but in the end, it needs to be believed and applied top management and by the middle.

Heath Gascoigne (14:42):


Irina Bentu (14:43):

All levels of the

Heath Gascoigne (14:44):

Management. So not just from the guys upstairs, from the top, but middle management as well. Exactly. I like what you said there, I’m going to quote, I’ve got my head down writing because I’m taking notes here. I like what you said there, change management is management, it’s like stakeholder management. It is like this is management.

Irina Bentu (15:04):


Heath Gascoigne (15:05):

The whole thing is management.

Irina Bentu (15:06):


Heath Gascoigne (15:07):

Not a special, we only do this because we’re doing a transformation. No, this is what you should be doing anyway. Exactly. Exactly. Okay. Alright. So, this is what the industry has learned over time. They’ve got some new tools and techniques, they’ve gone away from hard factual financial data and smart measures to now including like you said, the ESG and the people elements. And it is agreed and from the top down, top down, everyone’s like living and breathing these things now, not something that is just said. Yeah,

Irina Bentu (15:49):

As I said, I definitely see this improving and I definitely see an improved collaboration at the C level or at the head of the department. And I think it’s very, very important to really in such situations, to speak with one voice and not that each department is going their own way. You need to have very good, aligned objectives and very good aligned. You need to be very good aligned in terms of your objectives of your speech, of your approach, of how you just appear in front of your people. And this is this I have seen also here big changes of course depends a lot on the leadership skills of everybody and we need to continue improve this.

Heath Gascoigne (16:48):

Okay, build on it. Continue to build on it. Exactly. Alrighty. Okay. So that’s what the industry is doing. Now, your particular approach coming into this change of transformations, post-merger integration, do you have a particular approach you follow and what is it?

Irina Bentu (17:07):

Yeah, so as I said after definition of the problem and we know, okay, what do we want to solve for me, and I will go a little bit back again to Lean six Sigma because I like a tool very much from there, which I’m applying a lot and this is the hoshin, the hoshin kanri. It’s about how you set your vision and your objectives for the next three to five years and your objective for the next year. But it’s not an exercise that is done just top down by the C level, but it’s an exercise which is done in the organization with the people engaged and having an input into these objectives. And I think it’s a very nice thing because it’s very motivating. It’s called the catch ball effect because you just catch the ball, and you throw the ball to the others. And it really supports also to eliminate these initiatives which are not supporting you to really work on your objectives because you have a very good definition from the beginning of the vision of your objectives and the long term and then the short-term objectives. And this is done in every department, in every site, in every function. And then when you define your, I call it early improvement plan, which actually needs to be there for each of the functions and each of the department, then you will ensure that all initiatives that you have there will support you to achieve your objectives. So, it’s

Heath Gascoigne (18:58):

A very

Irina Bentu (18:58):

Good tool. Yeah, tool. It’s not a tool, it’s a method. It’s a way of doing things. In the end,

Heath Gascoigne (19:09):


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Heath Gascoigne (21:35):

Okay, so we’re going to play it back to you. The first part is the vision and objectives over three to five years. So, your long-term, midterm and almost immediate or tactical. And then it’s not an exercise that is done from the top down. It is done from top all the way down, not from the top, but involves everyone all the way down. And I’m going to quote you on this one too, the catch ball effect where, so this would be now it’s been set here, what does that mean to the functions and departments and the visions and their interpretation of how they got their work is aligned to the strategic vision and objectives. And then out of there you’re developing improvement plans for each of those functions.

Irina Bentu (22:16):

Exactly. Because in the end it needs to be the people who will also work on the delivery. So, if they’re not involved and they cannot say their opinion, in the end, they’re the experts that we have, and they need to tell us how they can achieve our objectives. And if maybe we from top management we would like something but it’s maybe not possible, they’ll tell us and they’ll tell us how we can make it possible. And

Heath Gascoigne (22:48):


Irina Bentu (22:49):

This is why I really love this method because it’s supporting engagement and the motivation of the people and it’s eliminating waste, which is actually.

Heath Gascoigne (23:02):


Irina Bentu (23:02):

You need in a company.

Heath Gascoigne (23:04):

And eliminating waste. And Tim Lean, we’re talking Tim Wood, right, so all the wastes time, inventory, motion.

Irina Bentu (23:12):

Exactly, exactly. And you don’t focus on something that is not according to the vision or to your objective, meet the long term why to do things which are not in line with this. Don’t need to. Yeah.

Heath Gascoigne (23:24):

Okay. So, in case the audience missed that, what you’ve been talking about is really about the people element of the transformation, which is I think what I’ve seen when they will say we’re doing a transformation, they’ll focus on process or technology or moving some tool or information, whether it’s an application or someone’s identity or passport or some visa application through the organization. But the other part that’s missing is the change in the ways of working, which is the people. And what you just all stressed there was about setting the vision. So, they had a vision for the people from the top of the organization all the way down and then from the people, and you even said the words. So, I was smiling there because it’s like that in case you missed it, what Arena said there was the people and the operations, and the business are the experts. And so, I’ve seen many transformations where it’s either the guy’s upstairs are dictating what they think and understand of what happens in the business without actually doing the business. And so, their perception versus reality is disconnected. And so, you are saying, so the takeaway guy for the listeners is you’ve got to speak to the people who are actually doing the work.


If I paraphrase you as the people who do the work, understand the work the best is that’s who you need to get to do the change.

Irina Bentu (24:53):

Exactly. And I would ask something else in the end, your key people are the operators from the production side for the salespeople. So, then all the rest needs to work to support them achieve their objectives. Because if they’ll achieve their objectives, they will not have any delays, any issues, then we all will win. So, in the end, our role manager is to support them, achieve their objectives. We are there to enable, to eliminate all the barriers and to make sure that all the problems will be very fast escalated so that we can solve the problems for them so that they can do their part.

Heath Gascoigne (25:42):

Yep. Okay. So, your background, just to play the back is manufacturing. So manufacturing, but also, it’s oil and gas. So, in terms of to summarize, the oil and gas may be discovery, export raw production into some form of packaging, then retail and distribution and logistics. So, it’s a full supply chain. And so, what you said there, in case the audience missed it when you talked about reducing delays, which is a real six sigma mindset. And so, when you reduce delays, you’re of course increasing frequency and velocity. And then of course six sigma about reducing error. And so, you’ve got a fast-moving machine. And so those in a service industry, if you’ve got a product or service that you are offering to a customer that you can reduce delays and improve quality, you’ve got a good user experience.

Irina Bentu (26:40):

Exactly, exactly. And this is what you want because in the end, what do you want? You want to make the customer happy and to deliver him what he wants in the time that he wants with the quality that he wants. Yeah,

Heath Gascoigne (26:54):

Yeah, yeah. Time, cost, quality, the old project manager, deliver.

Irina Bentu (26:59):


Heath Gascoigne (27:02):

Okay. So that came back to though, that came back to where, and you said earlier about the key people, make sure that you look after the key people and then in the process about how if you understand or protect them, really to make sure that we can reduce the delays or reduce the waste around them, that all the KPIs are tied to their objectives. If they win, we all win.

Irina Bentu (27:29):

Exactly, exactly. And I would like to mention here another key people person or a function, and this is not because me and you, we are active in the transformation, but this is the transformation, Lydia. So, you can call them the transformation lead, or I don’t know, the operations excellence lead, whatever you’ll call them. But even if you define a good vision and good objective and you have a good improvement plan, you need the governance and the drumbeat. You need follow up on this. And if you are an executive, you’ll need the support and the right hand to support you on this. You to make sure that everything is on track, that people are engaged, that you support for this engagement, that you make the link as the transformation when you feel that things are not going well and objectives are not achieved, that you’ll make the link between all these guys and all the function. So, I think it’s very important that you have a good kind of a structure and the governance not to do it just.

Heath Gascoigne (28:45):

Like a theater. They have the organized or the governance structure set up, but it’s really either a talking fest or doesn’t get any decisions made, which I’ve seen on big transformations. It’s theater, it’s governance, theater. It looks good and sounds good, but it actually has no teeth, no decisions get made or the deferred. So, there’s a key point there. You’re talking about governance; we almost missed it. And you said the drum beat the drumbeat. So, can you explain on that more?

Irina Bentu (29:16):

Yeah, so what I want to say is that we need to measure the results. So, we set a plan, now we start executing, but somebody needs make sure that we are on the right track. So, it needs a measurement. So, we need to set up a system of KPIs that we can measure what we deliver, and we need to meet, but we don’t need to meet just for meeting, but we need to meet to have a kind of meetings that we set up each week or each day. But we will set them up just to solve the problems, remove the bottlenecks, so we

Heath Gascoigne (29:55):

Just meet.

Irina Bentu (29:56):

To meet, solve the

Heath Gascoigne (29:58):


Irina Bentu (29:59):

And to remove the bottlenecks because this is how you make things roll and deploy. And in the end, you’ll measure, and you will report on the deliveries to the top management, and it needs to roll.

Heath Gascoigne (30:18):

Okay, so you’re meeting on a daily basis or a frequently agreed basis, but it’s not a catch up. And how’s your weekend? It is a very focused session to identify and resolve bottlenecks and issues.

Irina Bentu (30:39):

Exactly. And I can give you a good example, which I have deployed, and of course not only me, and of course it depends a lot on the function or on the department where you are, it can start on the shop floor. It’s called the five-minute meeting or the short interval control and what is going on there. All the functions on the shop floor, for example, the quality, the production, the supply chain, they meet each morning at eight just for five to 10 meetings and they just look on the topics that they couldn’t solve by themselves. So, it’s just.

Heath Gascoigne (31:19):


Irina Bentu (31:19):

Meeting to see what we couldn’t solve at our level, what do we need to escalate to the next level, which is, for example, the site management team. And it’s just for five to 10 minutes because everybody knows what they have to do, but sometimes, of course they can’t just solve it by themselves. And then in one hour there is another meeting, again, a five to 10 minutes meeting with the site management team where they look at this point that couldn’t be solved. And of course, they’ll take them and solve them, or if something is not being able to be solved, it’ll be escalated,

Heath Gascoigne (32:01):


Irina Bentu (32:02):

To the next level. But the nice thing is that in a few hours you can have all these problems escalated and solved very fast. And this we did not only on the shop floor, but we did also in the corporate functions. And there are a lot of companies who implemented this not only on the shop floor but also in the corporate functions. And they are very successful because they just find out very fast about the problems and solve them. And this is what I

Heath Gascoigne (32:33):

Do. Okay, that’s a great tip.

Irina Bentu (32:35):

And it’s not that it’s solving you also the problems, but it gets you used to a kind of routine because you don’t want to be the one, you want to solve the problems by yourself as much as it’s possible. So, it puts a lot of accountabilities on each of the person because of course you don’t want to have escalations each day to the top management. You want to do as much as possible to solve the problem by yourself,

Heath Gascoigne (33:04):


Irina Bentu (33:06):

And it improves the collaboration between the teams. Because when I say by yourself, I say actually by the team on the shop floor, at the site level, at the middle management level, up to the top management. Yeah.

Heath Gascoigne (33:22):

Okay. So, what are we calling it? We’re calling it at the, you.

Irina Bentu (33:25):

Can shorten that control, you can call it. Or five minutes meeting it’s called or shop floor management. It depends. Yeah, different companies, different names. Yeah.

Heath Gascoigne (33:37):

Okay. Some would call it a, well, in my space for say agile framework would be a standup, but a standup is, well, I like to run our standups is to say what you’ve done yesterday, what you’ve got planned today and what’s going to stop you, but yours is really focused on the issues that assuming that BAU and they can execute their normal delivery, that what issues they couldn’t solve themselves. So very focused on removing those bottlenecks. Or you said earlier the reducing delays and then first escalation was already in the diary of an hour later. Well, I think is great. And that is highly structured. And then if that wasn’t resolved, then there’ll be a second escalation, but you’re more likely would’ve probably got it solved in the next one. And so, the takeaway is you’ve got these issues that were bottlenecks solved in a couple of hours.

Irina Bentu (34:31):

Exactly. Exactly what you said. Of course, this kind of meeting need also take also place. Yeah, it depends. It can be also each day or each week. Yeah. Depends on the level, but of course you need to discuss also about performance. Where are you and what do you miss in order that you will achieve target for the next day? That basically this is what you discuss also in the five-minute meeting. So, everything is very linked and it’s very targeted.

Heath Gascoigne (35:04):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Very intentional. Yeah, I like it. Exactly. Okay. And the other part there, you said it improves collaboration and so that really brings us back to the beginning part where it’s all-around transformation and people about taking people on this journey. Alright, okay, so we’ve got the governance, we’ve got a drumbeat, we there anything else about your approach?

Irina Bentu (35:27):

I think basically if you have this and if you have your leaders coming, very often we call it again, lean is the EMBA work. Go and see. I think it’s very important that leaders are very often in either in the production side or going through the offices to meet the people in their country.

Heath Gascoigne (35:54):

They’re going to be visible.

Irina Bentu (35:55):

Exactly visible. And it’s not that they need to go there just to ask if everything is going according to the plan, but also to support them in terms of the coaching to ask them, what are you doing? Why are you doing this? I think we need to really understand as leader, what is happening? What are the problems of your people? What is happening? How can you support them? How can you support them? Eliminate the waste, how can you support them improve? And of course, I think if people are out a lot, yeah, leaders are out a lot. This can all improve the,

Heath Gascoigne (36:35):

Okay, so do you call it go and see, go and walk,

Irina Bentu (36:38):

Go and see, go and walk, talk to the people, see things with your own eyes. Yeah, don’t always look just on the reports. Yeah, from the you got.

Heath Gascoigne (36:47):

Oh yes. Okay. I think that’s, yeah, you’ve got to go and be not from the guy’s upstairs who would just sit upstairs in the ivory tower, but now get down on the shop floor in your words there. And I think it’s a good one there is that it’s not how, how’s the parents, how’s the family? It is how can I help you? How can they support you? How can I help you improve? Exactly. Again, coming back what you said, focused, intentional.

Irina Bentu (37:18):

Exactly. And I think this, I would do not only if I would be in the management of the company, but also as the shareholder I would do sometimes to go and to see by myself what is happening there and what do the people do and yeah.

Heath Gascoigne (37:35):

Yep. Yeah, absolutely. You’ve got to go visit. Exactly. Yeah. Got to agree. And the shop floor, we have this project here, we’ve got our team dispersed around the country and I tell them, you got to build a rapport with the people that changing their universe and you’re not going to build a rapport over a screen. You need to meet with them, shake their hand, understand what they do.

Irina Bentu (37:58):

Exactly, exactly.

Heath Gascoigne (38:00):

Okay. So, we’ve got play that back to we’ve got a vision objective to start off with our short term, long term, we identified the problem and even got down to the root cause. And from there with our vision and understanding the problems we want to solve at the root cause, you developed implementation plan from all the different functions that are in service of that vision that you did this with all everyone up and down the organization. Then the parts about the metrics that you were dealing with, the key people. So that one, if these people were able to deliver with reduced delays that they win, everyone wins. You’ve got your governance set up with your regular drumbeat. Your meetings are the short interval, what do we call them? Interval control meetings. Yep, yep. So, in those points were that you are, again, it’s all intentional.


This is all not for theater or just for meeting for meeting’s sake. Very intentional to solve the problems they couldn’t solve on their own to the first escalation within an hour. And then again, if those couldn’t be sold within, that group escalated one more time. But the benefit there that you would’ve had these issues solved would’ve within a couple of hours that were probably more likely holding you up from current work and any plan work coming at least for the next day. And it had a lot of benefits there. It was solved, reduces the escalation, it was solved by the team, and it improved collaboration. And the last one there is the go see is that the management is to get out from the ivory tower and then go and walk the walk, talk to the people on the ground and it’s just proper conversations about how they can help, how they can support, and how can help them improve.

Irina Bentu (39:51):

Exactly. It’s a very good summary. Thanks.

Heath Gascoigne (39:54):

Okay. All right. My notes are right then. Okay, cool. Okay. Now does that bring us on to our third point. Now you’ve got 20 plus years, worked all over Europe, large scale transformations, lots of M and as lot of post-merger integrations. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

Irina Bentu (40:16):

I think the main issue that I have experienced is that you make all that. I was saying that you make it stick because sometimes, and what I have experienced is when top management is not behind it, it’ll not stick. Because if the top management is not the first layer is working the talk and applying all these methods each day and working talk the moment that they will not apply them anymore or they will not care about them anymore. A lot from what you set up, from what we discussed already will be gone. And this is also when you want to deploy a transformation or you deploy operations, excellent, whatever. So, the first one is that it needs to be supported from the top long term not to be changed very fast when, I don’t know, some of the managers change, so it should stick. So, you need to make sure that everything that you deploy will become a routine and will come into the DNA of the people. And this you can only do by the repetition. Okay, we start, we do, and we repeat. So, I have seen it maybe stick after a few months or only all the routines that we discussed and the governance and the reporting and the measuring. Yeah. But then

Heath Gascoigne (41:53):

So sorry, what you’re doing there is establishing a new way of working.

Irina Bentu (41:57):

Exactly. You establish a new way of working and you keep it, and you keep the pace, and you follow it up and you make sure that it sticks. Yeah. So, this is, I think what at the beginning I was not aware about this of course when I just started.

Heath Gascoigne (42:14):

My 20 years ago.

Irina Bentu (42:16):

Exactly. So, this is of course what I do different now or I’m supporting the clients or the companies where I am working to make it stick or I’m doing it as a manager, manager. And of course, it’s very important that you also have reward for the people, make it stick because now we come back to the values and how you do things and not only what you do and of course that you need to also reward the people who support the routines and lead these routines and lead these working ways. And this is what I’m doing differently now. Yeah, and

Heath Gascoigne (43:03):

That’s what you would do differently. Had you had your chance again, more focused on the people elements. Yeah. I’ve got to say my recent experience that I think in the last, I don’t know, maybe four to five years, that there’s usually one of the projects or programs I get called into for transformation. There is always project or program manager. There is a pool of bas or business architects and bas, and there was not so much a thing about a business change person then now it’s like these are project side, they’ve got the architecture side, the business analysis, and people change. There’s like a staple part of projects now. It’s like, yeah, you can’t do these changes if you don’t take the people with you. And so, I see what you’re saying there, definitely from the people side. But let’s talk a little bit when you talk about the routine, because what you’re doing is if you are establishing a new routine and new ways of working, that’s a cultural transformation in some cases.

Irina Bentu (43:59):

Exactly, exactly. This is the transformation in the end. Yeah,

Heath Gascoigne (44:03):

Yeah. This is it. Yeah. When people think they’re doing a business transformation, they’re going, well, no, they’re changing the culture, the ways they’re working and of course the business will change as a result of it.

Irina Bentu (44:17):

Exactly. And is the same with the new technologies. I could give us an example. When I was deploying MES manufacturing execution system, this was the top of the iceberg. But what we did for a few months was really to work with the people to improve for the way that they were working together and the processes and then to come with the tool when the people were already prepared to start to work with a tool. Because to use a tool is very simple. You just learn in a few hours. It’s not about the tool. Yeah. It’s about all the processes behind and how to use it. Yeah.

Heath Gascoigne (45:00):

Yes. So, the technology was the enabler, not the driver. Exactly.

Irina Bentu (45:05):

Exactly. Not the driver. Yeah. Yeah.

Heath Gascoigne (45:08):


Irina Bentu (45:08):

Is, yeah, exactly. Why do you need a new technology? Okay, you want to improve something. You want to improve a process because now we come again to the thing, what we want to improve. What is the problem that you want to, to solve? Yeah. Yes. Come

Heath Gascoigne (45:22):

Back to the beginning. Yeah.

Irina Bentu (45:23):

A lot of times it’ll not solve the problems because you just have already the issues in the organization in terms of the processes or of the working ways, which you need to fix before you come with the tool, with the new tool.

Heath Gascoigne (45:35):

Yes. Okay. So the takeaway there, the audience, if you missed that, it is not leading with the tool, the technology guys, I pick on them a little bit, probably unfairly, that the technology guys walk around with their technology, new tech in the hand, and every problem they see is the technology one, they have the technology bias, every problem that in the organization can be solved by technology. So, well, to your point, well, how about you get the process right and the new ways of working, and then you’re changing the way that the people behave to the how. And then what’s the system that supports or enables that change? Not starting with the technology but using it last as an enabler.

Irina Bentu (46:20):

Exactly. Exactly. This is the right order. Yeah. Of doing these things.

Heath Gascoigne (46:25):

Yeah, you got that. Yes, it is the right order. And even Poo one, Gartner, but Gartner or the two TOGAF have rightly got the enterprise architecture model and they’ve got it in two parts, and they’ve got the business architecture at the top and the technology architecture at the bottom. It’s not a, well, it is a slight order as that the business should indicate or dictate how it wants to operate and technology supports it, not the other way around about technology drives it, and now the business need to adopt to the technology. No, it’s how can you change or enable the technology to support the business.

Irina Bentu (47:01):

Exactly. Exactly.

Heath Gascoigne (47:02):



Alrighty. Okay. So just to wrap that one up, if you could do it again, as more people, you’ve learned over the years that it’s got to be more a, people poke focus from the top, not just a word but actual behavior. And even so, to come down on the shop floor, they’ve got to walk the talk. And they said it also, and I think it’s a good takeaway here for the audience, is that you’ve got to keep these key people, whether it’s your executives, and not switch ’em out too fast at all but keep them there to establish the new ways of working. So, the next point was for you was the new routines, the repetition, the mother of all learning, repetition, repetition, repetition, and mother of all learning could take you some time, a few months. And then you said follow up, make sure you follow up. So, to keep sure that that repetition, the learning, the feedback loops. And the last one, number four was the reward. Reward and probably recognition of those that are going through this change in transformation to keep them incentivized and to motivated.

Irina Bentu (48:12):

Exactly. Yeah. Yes. Alright.

Heath Gascoigne (48:15):

Okay. We did it. Okay. Excellent arena. So now we’ll wrap it up there. Now. So, for people get a hold of you, I’ll put your contact details in the show notes to your LinkedIn and where your current company, where you’re at, they can see you and they go, okay, I want to bring an arena. We’re about to do an m and a and the post migration integration, there’s our Go-to change manager. They can get hold of you there. Alright,

Irina Bentu (48:41):

Perfect. Perfect. Okay. Yeah, so it was very nice. Yeah. So, thanks for this. Yeah, it was very, very, very good experience to exchange with you.

Heath Gascoigne (48:52):

My pleasure.

Irina Bentu (48:52):

Thanks a lot. Yeah, thanks a lot for inviting me. You’re welcome. Thank

Heath Gascoigne (48:55):

You for your time and sharing your knowledge.

Irina Bentu (48:57):

Yeah. And yeah, then I guess I see you around. Yeah. So now you know me, who knows.

Heath Gascoigne (49:05):

I’ll be staying in touch because we’ve got that Romania plans and you’ve got a lot of intel on Romania.

Irina Bentu (49:12):

Happy to hear about this. Yeah. So, I’m here if you need anything. If I can advise or support with something. Yeah.

Heath Gascoigne (49:20):

Okay. Very good. We want to give two words away from a competition watching right now, but yeah. Alright. Okay Rina, thank you very much Manchester and

Irina Bentu (49:29):

Have a nice,

Heath Gascoigne (49:31):


Okay, thank you. Okay.


Heath Gascoigne Business Transformator

Heath Gascoigne

Hi, I’m Heath, the founder of HOBA TECH and host of The Business Transformation Podcast. I help Business Transformation Consultants, Business Designers and Business Architects transform their and their clients’ business and join the 30% club that succeed. Join me on this journey.

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