The 5 Overlooked Transformation Skill Sets and How to Apply Them to Scaling Your Organisation
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Ready to thrive in the digital age? Well, fasten your seatbelts because it’s time to get deeper insights from this episode’s exceptional guest.
For Kenneth Lennon, digital transformation comes in five actionable skill sets. The former includes Human-Centered Design, Customer Experience, Data Analysis, Implementation, and Change Management. Today he dissects the importance of having these skills in scaling up your business to meet desired goals. Kenneth is currently working as a Manager and Sr. Business Transformation Analyst, so if there’s anyone who knows the ins and outs of business models, it’s him. Moreover, he’s here today to guide us on understanding the fundamental objectives to create better avenues for our growing company. There’s a lot to unpack in this talk, so make sure you take note of the key takeaways that he will be spilling and utilize them in your business ventures.
Welcome to the Business Transformation Podcast. I’m your host,Heath Gascoigne. This is a show where I cut through all the hype and noise and get to the facts of what actually is business transformation and what is required, how to and how not to do it. I’ll be talking to industry experts and professionals to share their stories, strategies, and insights to help you start, turnaround, or grow your business transformation. By the end of this podcast, we have some practical tips to use to make your business transformation a success. Whether you’re just at the start of your journeyor midway through, I hope you enjoy.
Heath:Hello, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Business Transformation Podcast. My name is Heath Gascoigne and this is the show for business transformators who are part business strategists, part business designers, part collaborators, and part negotiators. Business transformators have moved past just business design and includes oversight of implementation of those business designs and business transformations and include stakeholder management, coordination, and negotiation. If you work in strategydevelopment and implementationand you work to ensure that the design and technology are aligned, then you are a business transformator. This is the show where we speak to industry experts and professionals to share their stories and insights to help you start, 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 Kenneth Lennon, the manager and senior business transformation analyst with a focus on digital transformation at a high-growth organization that function as a business strategist, business and service designer, understanding business and customer and user needs, value stream process management, capability models with supporting technology, and removing pain points to drive continuous improvement. Kenneth sees the digital transformation as a overreach of five skills: human-centered design — design thinking; customer experience — user journey; business and data analysis; implementation — agile; and change management. At any given time, the expert can and will move between the skill sets to meet the desired outcome of the organization. Currently, Kenneth is a senior manager and business transformation analyst manager at MetaPhaseConsulting.Previously also a director of user experience at the University of Marylandand the consultant human centered design lead at Associated Veterans. Kenneth, thank you for your time. I’m glad to have you on the show. Now, part of the reason why I was very keen to get you on the show, you’re all the way from over in the states on the East Coast, is that in terms of transformation projects, you are right in the detail.You’re in delivery. Now, I come into projects, I come into many — well, often, at the strategic level, we’d be setting the strategy and implementation and projects and portfolios, how they’re gonna implement those transformations, but you are right in the detail and I’m interested to talk to you and I’m sure our audience is also because you’re at the coalface and where change and transformation falls apart is in delivery, in delivery risk, and this is where you are. So, welcome to the show. I want to ask you a couple of questions, three main areas I wanna cover. What are you seeing in terms of trends, you’ve been in the coalfacenow, user experience, business analysis transformation, what are you seeing trends in the market and what is good, what is bad? What is happening there? Is there a particular approach that you follow? I think you follow a human centered approach but let’s step through that, what does it look like? And then for many, let’s say newbiesor people entering into this business transformation industry, now there’s like almost a proven path. Usually it’s going through some analyst role or graduate role, working their way up to maybe, in terms of consultant speak, associate to the managing consultantand all the way up to maybe partner when they move out of analysis role into maybe strategic role. So you are at the really — this is your piece, you’re the master of your ceremonies in business analysis and transformation at that delivery level, so the question for that is what would you do differently where you are now?Would you do anything differently and what would that look like?
Kenneth:I think if I would do anything differently —
Heath: But that’s the last question. Sorry. That’s the last question. The first question is the trends. So, what are you seeing at the moment? You know, the industry itself is reporting, you know, depends on what research you’re lookingat, Gartner will tell you one thing, McKenzie will tell you the other,there’s something between 70 percent failure rate now the end they’re talking up to 89 percent failure rate. You’re in the coalface, you do this every day. This is bread and butter for you. What are you seeing? What’s working? What’s not working?
Kenneth:I think one of the one of the key things that I see happening is basicallya data integration issue is one of them. So, a lot of times, almost consistently, there’s a lack of data integration, which reduces the ability to get long-term strategic outcomes, that big data element that’s often missing. So, basically, what you’re doing is you’re solving problems within a small segment, which makes you redo the work. Now, it might be a cost-benefit short term, but long term, you’re reworking everything because you’re basically building experiences for each one of those siloed data systems, instead of taking a step back, integrating the data, seeing a larger picture of the problem, and then holisticallylooking at what the problems areand then building those improvements based on you having a wider overview. That’s one of the key trends today that we see.
Heath:Okay, soyou’re saying that people need to instead of seeing the forest for the trees, they need to step back to see if they’re even in the right forest?
Heath:Okay. So why is that? Why is that? I know, for technologyguys, they like to play with the technology and so, you know, the first place they start wanting to solve the problem is, you know, it’s like running around the building with the hammer, the hammer being technology, and every problem is a technology problem, because they have the technology in their hand. But if they took that out of their hand for a second, they realize, no, maybe not every problem needs to be solved with technology. But here you’re saying that people are straight to the detail. Why is that?
Kenneth:I mean, I think it’s commonly the quickest, the lowest hanging fruit. I mean, ideally, you wanna look at things from people processes and technology but it takes a lot of —
Heath: Oh, you’re speaking my language.
Kenneth: It takes a lot of maneuvering to get through all of those facets, and particularly the people because people don’t like change, you know? And that’s why they’re such a large element in that business in digital transformation process. People don’t really like to change, but technology, I mean, it can be used as a catalyst for change much easier than changing people.
Heath:Yeah. Okay. So you said something interesting there, that people don’t like change. I agree with that. I think people are naturally change adverse. There is a way to, say, enable or bring people on that journey. How do you do it?
Kenneth:Basically, change management, in my experiences with the projects I work on is very key. Very key. Change management is probably one of the biggest elements so you have, you know, the strategist and the visionary people coming up with what should change, but then you have the change management and support working with youas you move through that process. On the change management, they more so enable adoption methods, communication methods, any type of training methods to help ensure that adoption, but what I’ve seen is, in public versus private, that that change management aspect is much stronger in public versus private but I do think it is a very, very strong —
Heath:Wow. So on the public side is stronger, you’re seeing — this is a good word, stronger, I don’t know, presence and application of change management in the public sectoras opposed to the private. Wow. So government are aware of the human aspectbecause you like human centered, right? The human aspect of the change.
Kenneth:Yes, very much so. You know, there’s always someone around, there’s always a resource for it, they always have a strong presence of change management. Always.
Heath:Over here in the UK, I think here, probably the same. I’m not sure of the degree, maybe it’s slightly 60/40, most of them — well, the government projects I’ve worked on anyway, they had a very strong user experience, user driven, I wouldn’t say human centered, but they were more cognizant of the user experienceand then brought in a change manager, versus about 10 years ago, change management was seen as really a nice to have and if you had the timeor the budget, you would bring in a change manager to help you but that change manager was really about midway through the projectwhen coming up with or assisting with the impact or change analysis and people process technology and data than helping develop training plans, when they’re doing the trainingneeds analysis and going,“Okay, well, what’s your training currently or your competencies?What you’re good at?What you’re not good at? What the changes are, what competencies we need to improve,” and that just helped with really the technical side of that changebut not the personal side. What do you see?
Kenneth:I see definitely on the personal side. And there’s a lot of overlap within that business analysis so there’s almost using the same skill set, to a degree, except —
Heath: Yeah, yeah.
Kenneth: — the one element in wherever that change happens is when you’re looking at an approach, the approach that I use and probably many other people use, that there’s more emphasis with change management when you’re trying to change a service process compared to a product. So user experience is more aligned to a product and it has typically less change management when you’re looking at that compared to if you try to change a process within that department organization as a service process, how they do something, there’s a lot of change management with that. So I think there’s a little bit of a difference with change management relevant to product versus service.
Heath:Okay, so it’s your experience, it’s the type of,how would you call that, the type of project, whether it’s a service-based or if it was a product-based change transformationor that was the main area of changeor the, yeah, the — I can’t think of the word but not the productbecause it is, you know, you can make the name and the definition, but let’s call it the type, okay?So the degree that change management is usedis maybe effectiveor the type of the project, whether it was service or was it a product, so the callout there for the listeners would be if you have a product-based change project, then you may have slightly less or a lessened demand or need for a change manager. However, if you have a service-based business, then you should have or be more cognizant that you would need a change manageror more business change capability on your project.
Kenneth: Yes, definitely, because you’re dealing — in a service, you’re dealing more with people process and technology simultaneously, not to say that you’re not dealing with that on the product side, but not as holistically, in my experience, you know? When you’re dealing with that, you know, changing someone’s process on how they work, you know, that people element is very strong, while, you know, you’re updating an interaction, maybe that interaction doesn’t particularly touch anybody, you know —
Heath: Yeah, yeah.
Kenneth: — in the backend, so that’s where I see some of the change management in terms of differences versus people compared to service or product versus service.
Heath: Okay, so you said something interesting there, likechanging ways of working, like with the client I’m helping with at the momentwith my team, I’m telling them, you know, we’re in the discovery phaseand everyone’s playing nice, the stakeholders are playing nice, at least, that they are quite happy to come to all the workshops and put all their pains on the board or on mural or whatever system we’re using and allow them to be captured and they like it and they feel like they’re being listened to, they get to get something off their chest, and I said to the team, this is, you know, just be cognizant of where we are in the process. We’re in discoveryright now, we’re not changing the way they’re working, but when we come to design, we’re now going to design the future and change their ways of working. And that’s where you’re going to see people go from, “Well, we’re quite happy,” to crossing your arms and saying, “Now you’re changing my life.” And that’s when the resistance comes in. So I think part of that, when we start asking for their, you know, or putting proposals for how we could solve their pains and improve the experience, we can do that, it depends on the degree of change, if it’s a massive change, then we might face a lot of resistance, but if we’ve understood their problem well enough, we’ve got them on board and we’vegot a good strong report and understanding, that when it comes to this future part where they start crossing their armsbecause their ways of working are changing, then, you know, we might be on a good footing that we can put these proposals forward. If we didn’t have this rapport and we didn’t get this understanding, we might not be able to do that. I think so,in summary, it depends where you are in the process. If you rush through, which I’ve been in projectswhere they just wanna rush through to design without fully understanding the current state, when you get to this designand they go, “Well, it doesn’t solve our problem,”and go,“Well, what problem?”“Well, the one you didn’t find.” Yeah. So, what do you think?You know, when there is a people’s attitude to change and ways of workingis dependent on where it is in the process of the transformation project or you, generally in America, it’s like, no, you’re gonna face resistance along the whole process so you just have to be careful.
Kenneth:I mean, it depends on the organization. Each organization is different. And that’s why it’s a key for prior to getting a maturity, you know?So one of the questions I ask basicallyis that data maturity question because that’s gonna tell me basically how, from a technology standpoint, at least, at the very least, how well it will be or how easy it will be to be effectivebecause I’ll be able to have data that can support the maturity and how to get from point A to point B. Then there’s other aspects in terms of when you look at maturity of any type of change, you know, technology’s gonna changebut it depends on how people do their jobs. So,and that’s where, to me, you get into that Lean Six Sigma. So Lean Six Sigma is about standardization, you know? So when you map out a process, you look at the steps of that process. You have step A, B, C. Once you can standardize something, you basically can automate it. Once you can automate it, you can eliminate someone from doing it. So, you know —
Heath: Waste 10 people.
Kenneth:Yeah. So, you know, once you start to ask those kind of questions, I think people, a lot of people had the foresight to realize, “Why are they asking me that?” Because if my job becomes so simple that they don’t wanna pay me for it, I don’t wanna tell them the answers, you know?There’s a lot of trepidation in terms of technology, using those approaches to innovate because it can impact them on an individual level, which is the change management aspect is very important to be able to mitigate.
Heath:That maybe, what is it, a symptom of people — I call it the what’s in it for me, the WIIFM, what’s in it for me.So they’re saying what’s in this for me. If it’s not beneficial to me, then I’m gonna, you know, I’m gonna retract the willingness for me to participate in thisor I suggest ideas or reveal too muchbecause I might be shooting myself in the foot. Is that what you’re saying?
Kenneth: Yeah. I mean, it might be subconscious. But, I mean, I’ve seen it numerous times.
Heath:How do youget over it? How do you get past that point?
Kenneth:One of the skills you have to use is relationships. You know, that change management, understanding how they feel and why they may feel like that, and sometimes that has to be noted, you know? You can’t force change on people. You have to work with people, like in most things in life, you know, you can’t force an outcome, you have to work with them on that outcome.
Heath: Yeah, yeah. That’s the old lead a horse to water, right?
Heath: Good luck trying to move that horse’s head to make it drink that water. So I think — so, part of thatthen, I think you mentioned the word culture before, you know? If you’ve got, I think, a strong culture, I think this is culture and people in these transformation projects, whether they’re called digital transformation, which I have a personal view on digital transformation. I’m pretty sure that artificial intelligence was always artificial intelligence and machine learning was always machine learning, you know? There might have been some algorithm-driven something or other, still the algorithm thing. So when you say a digital transformation, I don’t think it’s a digital transformation in the context of these projects, that they have now gone from paper basedand now they’ve gone to a digital operating model. So they’ve eliminated the paper and now they’ve done it by automation and less paper, the paperless office. So they’ve gone and done a digital transformation. So, the word being digital transformation, did the — now you’ve ended up with an automated system, maybe a robotic process automation system, did the robotic process automation system change? No, it was always a roboticautomated system. What changed was the business changed from being paper based to automated. It wasn’t the digital that changed. The digital was always the digital. So, my view is when people start saying the digital transformation project, well, the digital change or was it the business that changed by using digital technologies? And so I think the language — and so that there is aboutI think technology guys banging on their drum for some time, you know, because the money is spent on technology or digital, they’ve got the talking stick, because that’s where the money is spent and so people listen to thembecause that’s where the money is spent and they go, well, they’re in charge now because they got the budget. They own the budgetor they’re closest to the person who has the budget. But I don’t think it is really technology and digital transformation, it’s business transformation using digital technology in most cases. But out of that, the change that happens is the focus on technology, but the forgetting about the people element and also the culture, what do you think?
Kenneth: I totallyagree. I mean, and that’s why you have a lot of those co-creation sessions, at least what we do, we have co-creation sessions and that’s where you learn about that pushback. So you have to keep the client, you know, involved at each state to mean you have outcomes for each step that you go through within that process, but the pushback comes when people start to become aware that something may dramatically change with what they’re doing, whether it’s a power struggle, whether it’s a learning curve, whether it’s elimination of their entire role, so that’s, from my experience, what I’ve seen numerous times.
Heath: Okay.So, I’ve seen elements of that too, you know, really to the point where I’ve seen projects get shut down because the person that would beor the team leader, for lack of a better word, would lose part of the empire that they organized that would be shut down completelybecause they would lose too much. But, well,lose too much in terms of the empire they’ve created. But there is, I think,ways to overcome that, you know?Both sides, if you had the serial bus come and knock you, you know, take you out of the picture, close down the project, but I think there is a way to address that, to overcome that resistance. Like I tried to explain to — like if it’s operations and so part of the process might be automated and they’ll say, “You know, I don’t know if we should do this because I’m gonna lose this,” but I said, “Well, the good news is, processes can be automated up to a point, to the point where the decision making becomes so complex that it needs a human to do it. So, the best part iswe will automate the mundane, repetitive, basically data-entry processes or parts of the tasks within those processes so that you will only deal with the exceptions. And so your job becomes more excitingbecause you will deal with the complex tasks that we could not automate and so you should be excited that you don’t have to do this rubber stamping tick box, lick the envelope, slide it into the whatever,the letterbox., you don’t have to do that anymore. Your job is more exciting. What do you think?There’s ways around it or maybe in America, they don’t see that, they’re like, no, it’s all change or no change?
Kenneth:No, I think there’s ways around it. I think — like I said, it’s organizational. I think that there’s perhaps differences in between public and private. I also think that it also depends on what type of company in terms of scale, some smaller companies may have a little bit — may be able tobe more innovative faster than a large organization. There might be more bureaucracy in larger organizations. That’s not always the case. I think one of the things in a larger organization is that in order to transform, and it’s so bigthat you’re really moving the Titanic —
Kenneth: — you know? You almost have to look at a departmental level. So, you know, when you start looking at transformations, you’re really looking at a business model, you know?So, you know, they’re doing step A, B, C, D to make profit. But then when you break that downorganizationally, within those four steps might be another 10 steps within each step. And then within those 10 steps, you get 12 different databases.
Heath: Yeah, yeah. Okay. So this probably leads into the other question about your approach that you follow. So it sounds like, in my approach, I would say, you know, you build it up from the base up, that structure, organizational structure, the stakeholders are in there, user journeys, processes, supporting those journeys, and the capabilities. You talked about all the processes and identifying, okay, let’s drill down into those processes. I’d call that — that sounds like to me a bit of a process modeling, that level 1, 2, and 3 down to the detail. You know, can we talk about your approach and what you — you’ve mentionedsome approaches there, Lean Six Sigma, human centered. When you come into these projects, I also wanna backtrack to something you talked about, the organization, like who would be in charge of that change? Whose responsibility is it?Does it gotta come from the top, operations, the operations leader or team leader or manager is responsible for being the spokesperson or champion for the change? Or does everyone have a role in that change? Sorry, two questions there.
Kenneth:I think part — you have to have both sides so you have to have leadership as well as operational. We have to have the doers and the leaders, because within that approach, to me, you’re looking at it simultaneously. So you understand the big picture first. You’re not trying to improve the big picture, you’re just trying to understand it —
Kenneth: — and once you have the big picture, you’re empathizing, so once you understand what is the fundamental stepsfor this company or organization to make profit.Maybe it’s not for profit. Well, what is your general outcome of whatever you’re trying to do, you know?Services, reduce costs, whatever it is, increase enrollment, you know, it’s X amount of steps so once you know those general steps, now you look at those steps and say, “Okay, what are the experiences that happen within these steps?”That’s the difference to me between the CX, the customer, looking at it from a customer experience, down to a user experience. Now, if we know the broad perspective of the customer experienceand then the touch points within those user experiences, now, ideally, we can get data. If we can get data, we can then look at different avenues or outcomes. So, we look at throughput. How long does it take to get through a process? We look at technology. How many databases and systems do you have? Is it giving you the rightinformation? Now, when you have all that, that’s still not the answer, that’s just the background information.From there, what I typically do —
Heath: It’s just the understanding.
Kenneth: Just the understanding. Yeah, without trying to get an answer. You might think you have an answer but, you know, you have to gather all those facts first as a background, because in that empathy phase, to me, there’s certain things that you’re trying to do. Once you have your information, if you’re using a survey, using an interview, and then you have fact finding research to support all that, you have a couple outcomes that you’re looking at, organizational goals of this transformation, you know? Maybe it’s operational, maybe it’s at the departmental level, which isit can be a smaller type of project. And what is the organizational goal of the transformation?What is the operational goal of the transformation? So, basically, what’s the business want versus what the actual operations want.
Heath: I think we speak the same language. I have these goals that the organization has for the transformation that the project would help and say enable, and in the operations themselves have a set of goals, which they may not be the same, but one cause and effect to the other. Okay, so there’s two types. You have strategic level and your words were operations.
Kenneth:Day to day. That’s where that data — that’s where that process is really important. Because at the organization or a strategic level, the process is therebut it’s slower and bigger. But at operational, it’s typically you’re doing A, B, C, D, A, B,C, D so, okay, so, if you’re having problems with that, you know, your problems might be — it could be a time, it could be technology, maybe you have too much software, maybe the software costs too much and the business organizational goal can just be,“I need to save money. We’re losing money.”
Heath: Yeah. So let me summarize that. I think there’s more to it but let’s recap. The starting point is to understand, get an understanding of the big picture, you know, I think this was where you were talking about in terms of maybe missionor the type of business, profit, nonprofit, they want to increase enrollment, you know, what is the fundamental objective for the organization, I think that might be a better waythat you would put it, the fundamental objective, then the general steps, maybe the general steps of the business model, understanding, this is all about understanding, not answersbut understanding the business firstand the experience within those steps in the organization. So you talked about two types of experience so the customer experience and who is that — use the customer’s experience with the organization through their journey with touching the organization to get the product or service they want and then the other part is the other side of that journey, is the user, being the staff member, what their experience is in providing that service or product to the customer. Yeah? Okay. And then to the point where you wanna get tois to get the data, to understand that data, and I think if we talk in terms of, you know, someone’s supplying it, there’s some data that is supplied, the inputs, there’s a process or throughput, and maybe in your words, the output that’s produced and then some customer, consumer of that data uses it for another purpose, another process or another purpose or product. So now you’ve got an understanding of big picture, their purpose, their journey, their experience, whether that’s been the customer interfacing with organizationor the use of the staff membersas experience itselfto provide that service or product to the customer and with that experience, understanding the data, you know, the input, throughput, output. Okay? And that’s — you’ve just now really got a baseline, a baseline understanding of the business.Noanswers, because it’s not about questioning it, it’s just what you do. And then you sort of talked about empathy stage. So empathy being to understand maybe thoughts and feelingsand maybe drilling down more into that experience through questionnaires and surveys, by one-on-one interviews, maybe the co-creation sessions, yes, you talked about before. Okay? And those are tools, with the goals being two parts, the strategic understanding or the organizational levelgoalsand then the operationaland you talked about the organization level goals of being the slower, bigger goals so the ones that take maybe a long time to achieve, one year, two years, as opposed to operations might be we wanna see what’s our turnover today or absentee rate for the week, you know, the really short term, short-phase goals where you can measure them, you know, relatively quickly. So the operational, the day to day, these goals and reactionsand events happen faster. And then out of that, you wanna look at the problems that is happening at those, you know, causing those two goals, I think, whether it was it takes too long, it costs too much, you’ve got too much tick, you know, what does that overall experience look like? So, have I got it so far?
Kenneth:That is it, and then the goal is to communicate that as simply as possible and with something visual, supported by data.
Heath:All right, so communicateand visual, and I love you saying this, visual, you know, I see the trendand it’s been the trend for a while, I like it and I endorse it and respect it, about the data visualization, you know?This is I think — it’s like in terms of technology architecture, architects, there’s so many different architects now or every applications security data which is needed, or API, everything, you know? So the list of architects now goes on. But then there was a new onewhich came out a few years agoaround the visualization analyst or someone who is about data visualization and I think that’s a really underrated skill and role because I think the knowledge or the insights are in the data but not a lot of people have the ability to interpret, to draw out those insights. What do you think?
Kenneth: I totally agree, because that, to me, is most — is one of the keys, because you’re trying to communicate a problem and something. You’re trying to communicate a problem simply, you know?A lot of people don’t wanna sit there and look through X amount of slides just to tell them what the problem is. How can you simply communicate something, a smaller number of slides,that effectively communicates what the problem is? That’s where that customer journey or the journey mapping process. You know, we often see journey maps that are pretty sophisticated visually, it’s a lot of detail, they look goodfrom a visual standpoint, I’m a designer by trade, so they look good in a structured hierarchy and everything like that, but does it work for the business? Does it communicate what those pain points are? And then once the leaders of those organizations can see their pain points, the next step is to understand why, when should they, how should they fix those pain points, you know?What should they do next?But now, everybody’s on the same page of agreement or alignment. Okay, here’s our process or processes and these are the supporting steps within them and this is the data that supports them and these are the problems and then, ideally, what you wanna do is you wanna take those pain pointsand put those into themes, because you don’t want to solve, oh, this pain pointfixes that,this pain point fixes that, you wanna constantly look holisticallyand look at the bottom and the top and that’s why I look at both top and bottom —
Kenneth: — leadership simultaneously.
Heath:All right, so let me recap that. So, the visualization part, which is such a good one, it’s fantastic. So, you know, because you are,to start from the beginning, you are in the detail, you know, where do these projects, you get the big four guys will come inand the advisoryand they’ll paint a big strategy for the organization and they may not be good at delivery so another group will come in, or they’ll do it in house, so where does it all fall apart?It falls apart in delivery. And you are you’re in the coalface so you are at where it either succeeds or not. And so these issues and concerns that you’re facing is, this is what it looks like. So that communicates, simply communicate is, you know, I talk about it, one in the book and the students on my course, is that there’s four common problems in transformation projects, four causes of transformationproject failure: lack of business/user involvement, lack of senior leadershipsupport, changing requirements, and incomplete requirements. So, all of those four things have got nothing to do with technology. They’re all to do with people. Lack of business user, lack of senior leadership, changing requirements from the people, incomplete requirements from the people, nothing to do with technology, they’re all to do with people. It’s a psychological problem. The problem of transformation failure isn’t to do with technology, it’s to do with people. And it’s psychological. And so when you talk about communicationand simple communication, that plays straight to addressing all of those points.For those listening, so you just heard it from the horse’s mouth here, who is also a designer, so, you know, thank you for saying it. And just to add to that, a previous project I was on,you also said to a language that they can understand. All right?How critical is that?
Kenneth: Very critical. I mean, I think it’s so critical to the point that if you can’t do itwell, you cannot move the project because what happens is, without that effectivesimple communicationand understanding and alignment, you cannot get to the finding what the problems or phases to move the project towards implementation. I think it’s one of the — like you said, I think it’s overlooked skill. I think the skill that often is looked at is, you know, data facilitation, but not that visualization facilitation skill of simply communicating what the problems are, what we have, and where we should go.
Heath:Okay, so that skill,I think it’s a technical school, the business analysis skill, the data insight, and then taking that data to make it visually and be able to communicate it easily, simply, your words, so the business can understand it. I’ve been on a fairly big project where the transformation division had decided to adopt a certain approach, it’s a language standard for business process mapping, one that the business did not understand, but they forced it on them to the point where the business, when they would have a need for a change project, would not go and talk to the transformation division for this because they were scaredbecause they had things forced on them and so I asked the question, why did you make, that actually was BPMN. Why don’t you make BPMN the standard for your process maps? And they said, “We’ve made it a standard so that everyone in the whole building, even if they don’t work in this transformation division, they need to adopt this standard.” I said, “But do they understand it?”They said, “No, so we send them off on a two-day course.” I saidthat’s like cutting a wound open and adding salt to the wound, you know? I said, man, I said — and then they told me that the whole organization doesn’t like engaging with the transformation divisioneven when they need them, because they tell them things they don’t wanna hear. I said this is unbelievable. No wonder they called me in. But you gotta listen to the users, understand, like I an example I gave them there was that it’s like you speak your, you know, there’s BPMN,turn notation, it’s like you speak French. It’s a language that you understand, it’s pretty special, it’s unique, but there’s other languages that they also speak, which is English, and they speak and have spoken that to each other quite often and it works, it does its job, they don’t need to do specialist training, and here you are, your French speakerswho have literally told them that they have to go and learn Frenchbut not just any French, fluent French. And so you’ve automatically got them off site because they got a language that works very well and it’s worked well for them in the pastand now you’re gonna make them use another language only you understand. How about,that’s an idea, a novel idea, how about you just get better at English? Job done. But, no, they didn’t wanna hear that. No, they’ve made a decision. And so, oh, man, so good luck with that. So, okay, so we have to communicateand then the outcome you’re looking for, a lovely outcome, is everyone is on the same page.
Heath:Yeah, key word there, relatively, yes. So clear on the process, clear on the steps in that process, clear on the data that is required, inputted through the process and output, those pain points of that process, where those problems lie, I think you have a great point there, a good takeaway for the listeners is, you know, you may have and, you know, actually on the client we’re working with now is they have one particular phase of the project over a thousand pain points, and so the way to, as you said, which I, you know, which I really like, was themes, you know?Identify the themes.
Kenneth:Because if you work at an individual level, you can get lost in such nuances that you can’t finish the project.
Kenneth:So you always have to understand the outcome of the project and the outcome for the business simultaneously so, you know, there might be a thousand pain points, but I’m sure they always go into some type of theme. I’m sure that they do. Because we’re not looking at, okay, a great outcome isn’t necessarily saying, “Oh, no, we found a thousand problems,” or,“We found, you know, 10,000 problems,” you know, I guess it could be good for some people, but usually the goal is to improve that business, whether it’s innovation, whether it’s reducing costs, whether it’s — whatever, you know?So you have to understand what the business outcome is and maybe sometime the outcome is to find those pain points but the next step would be, okay, what are you gonna do with those pain points? How are you going to get rid of them? And which ones should you get rid of? Now we get into prioritization, now we get back into organizational misalignment, because each department is gonna have different priorities on what they feel.It can be potentially a problem. I’ve run into problems like that, trying to balance everyone’s needs of problems.
Heath:And how do you do that? How do you balance everyone’s needs?
Heath: That’s a skill, right?
Kenneth: It’s a skill, but you gotta— in my experience, you have to use a scorecard. You have to use something that takes your personal perspectiveversus their perspective out of it, you know?
Heath: So remove the bias, remove their perception bias.
Kenneth: Yes. So, it could be, you know, in technology or in development, often it’s 1, 2, and 3, but you can move it all the way up to 10 so you can get a bigger variation and that way, you can at least have a justified means of putting something in terms of priority versus another project.
Heath:So you’re talking about there if you had a score or rating from 1 to 10 so you have a long or wide difference between the different scores as opposed to 1 and 3, low, medium, high.
Heath: Yeah, okay. So, note there for the listeners, you know, don’t make a small range on your prioritization criteria, probably not gonna help you, I’m in the middle of the road, medium, everyone’s a mediumso there’s no priority. Okay, so you’ve balanced the needs. One of the tools or techniques you use there is a scorecard. So you’ve got your outcomes, you’ve got the process, the pain points, we’ve done some prioritization, we had conversations of different parts of the project or different parts of the organization, you’ve agreed on where the misalignment is and start identifying areas that you wanna focus on, that’s just on the pain points. So, if we go on from out of discovery into design, where are we sitting in the process there?
Kenneth:So, what we do is you go in in discovery and design back and forth.
Heath: Oh, there’s a feedback loop.
Kenneth:Yeah, you go backand forth into it. You go back and forth. As you get feedback, you might refine it. So, basically, you know, within that empathy phase, your understanding, likewe talked about the goals, the organizational goals or the operations, what those pain points are, and then we wanna understand the data maturity. If we can do that, then, ideally, underneath that, we build a hypothesis, but we don’t show the client that. We build a hypothesis figuring out —
Heath: This is problem hypothesis or solution hypothesis?
Kenneth: Which you use.
Heath:So potential improving opportunities to address those pain points.
Kenneth: But you work within your internal team to kinda, “Can we do this? How much would this cost? What are really all of the steps to do in this?” while you’re engaging with the client on alignment, because then you still have to define what the problem is, right? From your research, you’re defining what the problem is. So then when you ideate, that background hypothesis comes into the forefront.That comes into the forefront.Now you can you validate that.They can say,“No, we don’t like that,” or, “Yes, we like that,” or just change this. And then when you get into that prototypeand test, that’s where it’s like a fork in the road. Are you dealing with a product or are you dealing with service?If you’re dealing with a product, you’re gonna probably do usability testing. You might have two or three rounds of that, or you can consistently improve that over time and then we move more into the implementation development and then with improving, you know, using probably smart goals or KPIs, either one. But when you get into a service, you’re getting ready to pivot into change management. You’re getting ready — so there is no prototype. It’s like, “Oh, it’s getting ready to change,” so you got to make sure that that change management is involved early enough so whenever that implementation is getting ready to occur, they know before it’s coming.
Heath:Okay, so let’s recap that. So the difference between the stage, one stage, the early stage is really discovery, the empathy, is it?And then your feedback loop, and that feedback loop, which I talked about in my course with my guys is aboutyou got really two sets of documentation, I think it’s also in the book, is that you got the client facing and you’ve got your internal that, you know, for the developing of your hypothesis that you probably wouldn’t wanna show the client or you could but it may bamboozle the client, because, you know, it’s your workings,it’s your draft version, I don’t know, so Van Gogh showed his — you know, Van Gogh’s drafts probably worth millions if you wanna see those but, you know, the workings behind the scenebut it’s for your internal, your colleagues that you come up with these hypothesis and solutions. So you have the two types: internal and external. I think where maybe the junior consultants get mixed up is they wanna share everything and eager to share, but in doing so, sharing the wrong thingsor too much information and what does too much information do?It’s overwhelming. And so good point there.You know, don’t show everything because it can be overwhelming. You don’t wanna overwhelm the business that’s already overwhelmed because you’re there. Why you’re there in the first place. So get rid of this overwhelm-ness. Okay. So there was — yeah, that’s internal document.After that and as part of your internal solution hypothesis, you’re coming up solution options, I think, would it be?And then you’re getting now playing them back to the client in a validation session or sessions. For them to give the approval from that point, you’re gonna develop your MVP or pilot or your prototype, whether that would be mainly a product, like I like to call like a service side or a process side, a minimum viable process as opposed to a minimal viable product. So test a small part of the process or the full end-to-end process but on a lighter scalelike you would do a vanilla or a light version of a prototype or technology app or a websitewhere you give minimal functionality from end to end across the whole use of that experience, user journey, user experience, same types of process. So you trial that, get some feedback, based on the feedback, then you’ll go, okay, we’re either gonna hopefully, your product, list of the change management involvement. If it’s a service, you’re gonna bring in more change managementor bring the change management early to help with that change transformation embedding. And then, depending on the success of that prototype, take on feedback if it needed it. If not, go into development, build, and then implement.
Kenneth: And then improve. You should be using the KPIs to understand how to improve it, and that improvement might not be — if you’re working at an incremental level, because there’s gonna be bugs. When we work at a business level, it’s not gonna be as incremental because we want to look for themes, you know? Oh, boy, we learned that people are having issues with the data, the backend, you know, we wanna get the feedback to understand is that people process and technologies,is it one of three, is it two, or is it everything and not reactive updating, like you typically see in a prototype. Because, often, when you reactively update, eventually, you build something that you don’t even have track of, you know? You lost —
Heath: Yeah, so many changes.
Kenneth: — that experience is because you just listen to everybody else and, well, what was the overall goal of it, you know?So there’s a balance in between feedbackand using the feedback in an effective way to improve the business or the use of it for the business.
Heath:Okay, so you gotta be a bit smart about the feedback, not the reactive, using your words, reactive to all feedback, sensible. I think it’s a very good point because there’s times where you might get the loudest stakeholder or group of stakeholders giving you feedbackand then you take on that feedback but what you end up doing is changing the goal or objective of the product or service in the first placebecause you listened to the wrong stakeholders. Okay, so I think I’ve got your process, understanding — what should we call that? First is the —is the first is the empathy phaseand then we’re going into — what would we call the next one?Hypothesisphase?
Kenneth: Well, the words that I use is empathythen I define, so define the problem from that empathy, basically looking for causes and then you ideate.
Heath: Empathy, define, ideate.
Kenneth: Yep. And then you prototype and test.If this product change management service comes into place there, then you implement and improve.
Heath:So implement and improve. So how many steps we got there?One for empathy, two define, three ideate, four prototype, five test, six implement, and then seven improve.
Kenneth: Yeah. And you can mix and match to a degree. You wanna — the most critical ones I believe personallyare the first three. You really have to empathize with that user or those customers and the business, you gotta know the root cause of the problem so you can have the biggest impact, and then ideate, that’s where you use your strategic thinkingas a creative, as a business person, all of that acumen comes into place in that phase. The prototyping and testingand that change managementI think is critical and then the implement, you actually have to have an outcome for but to improve it, you have to know what you’re trying to improve to continuously be able to do that.
Heath: All right, okay. So the critical three parts, the first three steps, the empathy, defineto understand the root cause to have the biggest impact, and the ideateso that you can provide the solutions that address directly those pain points. Okay, so now you have, this point in your career, if you were to look back and go, “If I could do anything I’d do differently or from what I know now,” what would you do differently?
Kenneth:What’s funny about this question is that this stuff, digital transformation, in my personal opinion, is a combination of all of these newer skill sets, the UX, the service design, the customer experience, business analysis isn’t new, but the way that it can be doneor used to be doneor that business analyst is someone that basically wrote traditional requirementsversus today, we’re using human-centered design to get requirements. It’s likeyou have to understand the details before you can understand the bigger picture to be able to work on a transformation. But if I can do anything different, it’s to basically understand what all of these facets are, like what is human-centered design? What is customer experience? What is business analysis and what is change management, Lean Six Sigma, and then when we talk about implementation, you know, there’s multiple ways you can implement thingsbut you’re talking about, you know, like six, seven different skill sets that is rare in one person and I just happened to fall into it by working out of my comfort zone, you know? I’m trained as a designer, I went to school to be an educator so I use things like Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is a learning strategy to understand outcomes, to Lean Six Sigma, which I learned from a black belt to look it up, overall process, and then business school, which taught me marketing, operations, operating management, all of those things together, you know? I think for anybody is just to learn the different facets of a digital and business transformation.
Heath:Okay, so not just one, you need to have a broad range of one skills and experience and tools and techniques.
Kenneth: To be effective at it. You can work in one part of it but I think that when you work in one part, like organizations hire a service designerbut they really want someone to impact the businessbut they’re only looking at one little piece and you can’t do it. You can’t impact the business by doing a small portion, you know?But that doesn’t mean that you need to be the chiefsuch and such officer to do it. But what it means is that the higher levels of the organization have to understand all of the departments that these transformations touch, you know, and we put this into a roadmap that we look at this periodically, this is the first quarter, this is the second quarter, this is the third quarter as a means to an outcome.
Heath:Okay, that’s very interesting. The takeaway being a broad range of skills to be more effective, like you just said there, likethey might want to bring in a UX personbecause they want to design the UI/UX, but that’s one specific aspect of the overall output or outcome they’re trying to achieve, which was to implement the transformation. So,for a newbiecoming into this, you know, I think — like I have a niecethat actually she competed in the Olympics in shotput and I thinkcame number sixand she’s a world junior champion, some time ago that I played sports at a semi, let’s say, good level, so I had a few tips for her and part of those tips were, although it’s shotput, right? I say that these other things like even ballet for balance, because she works on strength and reallythere’s not a lot of movement in shotput other than going — it’s spinning on the circle, which is not that wide, or crossing the circle and really throwing it. But there’s, you know, limited really skill other than, you know, let’s say, tools and techniques that you would use for that particular sport, not saying limited in skill. But would you think of using ballet? Ballet for balance and to be able to change your body position and height and to get an outcome you’re looking for and so like what you’re talking about there,UX, UI, different tools and techniques or practices and standards like Lean Six Sigma, specifically around process, and then the business schoolaround, you know, operations or functional roles or disciplines in an organization, marketing, sales, HR, finance, etc. So there is — it’s an underrated practice, I think, business analysis, you know, and, yeah, so actually I saw a — I had a conversation with a client the other day and they said, “So, basically, tell me what you do on a day to day basis,” and I told them, I said, “So you’re basically like the horse whisperer of strategy, of operations,” and we’re not the whisperer, but you need to be able to communicate. I think that’s the key takeaway, would you say?
Kenneth: Definitely.Communicate and understand. I mean, you’re not an expert at anything, I think the term neo-generalist, so youcan’t have too much depth in a limited amount of functions, you have to have depth over other functions and be able to integrate because in your approachor in multiple approaches, it’s never exactly that way. So you might be able to understand the clientbut you might not have enough time to define the problem but you have to understand from what you can gather in the empathy phase to assume what the problem could be and then when you get time, if you have supporting data, while at the same time you’re ideating and go back, it’s not always,“Okay, I have time to do this, I’m gonna, oh, okay, I’m gonna take time to do this.”A lot of times, it’s likewhat can you do in 12 weeks, you know, three months, you know, so time is often a measure and that’s why data is so importantbecause that often makes those outcomes cleanand it makes them fact-based and not, “I’m an expert, I know more because of this,” because you can learn from anybody, you can learn from anybody, in my opinion, anybody and everybody, you just need to take the combinations of information and put it together and understand using this information that I have, how can I get this outcome? Or what is stopping the organization from getting to this outcome?
Heath:Right, that’s music to my ears there. You can learn from anybody. I think that’s how I’d started my career is really learning from my colleagues,more senior colleagues, and then I think that sparked a few interest in furthering my knowledge and then also qualifications. But, yeah, definitely the knowledge is key.Communication is right up there. I think what you’re talking aboutgenerally is understanding, like we talked about simple communicationand those different tools and techniques and standards allow you, like I could talk in terms of business architecture, you’re putting everything in building blocks in a way the organization is structured by building block by building block, is that you’re looking at particular elements of the business through a specific lens that allows you to interpret what’s going on there, process, Lean Six Sigma, change management, and talking about negotiation and language and empire building and the empathy, you even have a stage in your process called empathy. So your major, yeah, I think the communication part, understanding your stakeholders, understanding the language that they haveand use and speaking to them and meeting them at where they are, taking them through the journey.
Kenneth:I think that’s definitely key. Definitely key.And visualizing that journey. Visualization is probably one of the more effective and simple ways to communicate and align.
Heath:Oh, yeah, I could tell you some stories about visualization, I know some people that could do with a lot of visualization.To tell somebody something, you know, what the picturethey paint in their head of what that looks likeversus everyone else’s understanding or interpretation of that. Visual picture, you know, and what do they say, you know?A picture says a thousand words. You know, that one picture could save you a thousand words, so, you know, now, okay, now we agree. This is blue, you see blue, that’s blue. That’s it. That’s blue, that’s definitely blue. It gets everyone on the same page quickly. Okay, so, Kenneth, my man, I think it would be great, actually, to work on a project with you, maybe in the states some time, I’ll come over there and we’ll do some work together. That will be cool.You never know, eh?
Kenneth: Never know.
Heath: You never know. Kenneth, we’ll leave it there. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you for the insights.
Kenneth:Thanks a lot.
What is business transformation? This is a two-part answer. The first part is what is business transformation, and then when is the change the organization goes through deemed a transformation? Firstly, the definition. Business transformation is where business changes the way it does business. That is, it changes how it creates and delivers its products and services, its CVP, its customer value proposition to its customers. It doesn’t necessarily change what it does, but it changes how it does it.
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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.