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The Business Transformation Podcast

Podcast 028- Tien Nguyen – RPA, is it hype or not ? – Listen to what experts have to say.

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Here’s our podcast about RPA and AI generating in the business transformation world with the international intelligent automatic expert Eric Nguyen.

Eric Nguyen is an international guest speaker who addresses  the role of RPA and how it has developed within the past years.

He tends to speak up about the impact of generative AI in Business Transformation which marks a turning point in the current business world.

In this podcast we focus on,

  1.       About RPA, does the market take it right or wrong?
  2.       The approach Eric follows in this process
  3.       If he got a chance to do it again, would he choose a different path?


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Read Full Transcript

Heath Gascoigne (00:01):

Okay. Do I look to, I think I left here at two o’clock. No, three o’clock in the morning. I did, yeah. Yeah. No, I’m burning the candle at both ends at the moment. I’ve got a little team in the Ukraine building the software and if I’m not careful, they will run up a nice healthy bill every week. It’s running six weeks, six weeks, six months over the deadline. It is going to be amazing, but it’s like, guys, there’s a budget and I’m not a big four. This is a small little startup. Yeah. So take it easy. Yeah. So I’m here at all hours. Okay, let’s get into it. Okay. So I’m going to say welcome to the Business Transformation Playbook. Playbook. Start again. Hey Mr. Editor, cut that bit out. Okay. Welcome to the Business Transformation Podcast. And in this episode we are talking to one of those industry experts. We are speaking to Eric Newan, correct? Yes. Eric Newan. Yep. Eric is a international, international intelligent automation expert. We are going to be talking around the subject of how you bring AI into transformation. Eric is a international guest speaker, speaker spoken in conferences, let’s say around the world based currently in Canberra, Australia. Did some time in Sydney there, irc,

Tien Nguyen (01:24):


Heath Gascoigne (01:24):

Okay. Alright.

Tien Nguyen (01:25):

Around Australia.

Heath Gascoigne (01:27):

Yeah, I did some time there in Australia. I think we had a quick little brief chat beforehand and my little one year stop over ended up being 14 years. I’m still saying it was a one year stopover, but it just got a little bit extended. Alright, so the topic we are talking about R P A R P A, is it hype or not? So has the market got it right. How are they using R P A? They got it right, they’re doing it wrong. What’s the lessons there? Do you have an approach that you follow when you go into a client site, client visit that you follow? What is that process? And then if you now your background experience, your knowledge that you have industry expert, if you could do it again, what would you do differently?

Tien Nguyen (02:12):

Absolutely. Thank you Heath for your kind work and I’m sure it’s going to be a very interesting conversation and I have to say it upfront. I am keen to share practical advice as well as real experience and my own personal observation for you as well as the audience. Hopefully by the end of the conversation you can have a thing or two about automation as well as you can say, oh, now I know all things about automation, at least I can try out. And on top of that, we can have the flavor of ai Very good. And bring it back home with the theme around business transformation or more timely topic. I would say turnaround, business turnaround. That’s just my thinking for this conversation.

Heath Gascoigne (03:05):

Thank you. Very good. Okay, so just on that, that’s an interesting one around turnaround versus transformation. When I with a client and we’ll say, okay, this, you have a project, a business or digital transformation project and it has a start and the end date and this is your transformation project will have an end date. Your organization’s transformation however will continue. And so I say your transformation is never ending, the project will finish and you’ll go into a stage of continuous improvement that you will manage as part of your B A U as business as usual. Now turnaround, what is the difference between the turnaround and transformation there?

Tien Nguyen (03:47):

Absolutely. Thank you Heath for the great segue. To be honest, the first time I heard about business turnaround was actually not from the book or any podcast, but actually a face-to-face conversation in Singapore with a friend of my father at that time he was in the board of director of one of the largest bank in the country in Singapore.

Heath Gascoigne (04:14):

Alright, yep.

Tien Nguyen (04:15):

Yeah. So he talked to me and he casually said, okay, my work, it is about business turnaround in layman term, when the economics downturn or let’s say enterprise or corporation, they’re in the bad shape in the red. He came in, he’s like a doctor, a surgeon in the ER department. He cut to the chase, he basically revised the operation so that you talk about survival, you talk about tactical move, you talk about a timeline, condense it to maybe just about 12 months, even like three months, six months, 12 months. So it was back in, I would say in about almost like 15 years ago after that conversation. Eventually I look up the term business turnaround and I think now when I relate to my work, especially right now in let’s say in Australia as well as in Asia Pacific, we talk about things like say the demand and supply, the demand stream.

All of a sudden no one want to spend money. So then we no longer have the vision of 10 years transformation. We no longer talk about the next level. We talk about three months time, do we still have enough cashflow six months time, do we have enough order 12 months time, do we still exist? And even you look at things, let’s say Microsoft, Facebook or Google, they’re not really about business transformation with those layout. Earlier this year it was about turnaround, especially for say Facebook where the ads business all a sudden come into say that now fold. So they have to turn the ship around. And I really read between the line of Mark Z’s work is that a 20 20 23 is the year of efficiency, but for me it is not about efficiency. It’s not about you can let go 5% of your workforce and you call it efficiency. I think it is about steer the ship and turn it around in a way. Let’s say you reduce certain operation, you reprioritize and you reignite that survival mode. It could be very brutal, but okay,

Heath Gascoigne (06:42):

So it’s similar to you said that ERs is an emergency room. So the analogy would be it’s basically you got short term intensive surgery where you need to, if it’s an organ, you’re pulling it out. Absolutely, yeah. Okay. So yeah, I think if the industry was to adopt that, generally that will be a good way to go. Seen projects, transformation projects that go for at least five years and they deliver little value. It’s almost like B a U. It’s like we’re just doing business as usual. No, you’re trying to change the ship here, but the speed that you’re changing it is like you’re never going to change it. The market’s going to move and you’re going to have to change again. So this five year little turnaround or transformation is going to take you 10 years because you’re going so slow.

Tien Nguyen (07:33):

I can relate to that in two front. One in term of technology

Before, say five or I think even 10 years ago, a life cycle of any technology we talk about maybe up to five years and after five years it’s like that. Yeah, we move on to the next big things. But now you say every two years literally you have a whole new breed of new technology. So the speed of innovation and the affordability, like cloud solution, literally you can work anywhere. Ukraine, Vietnam, Singapore, it is all accessible speed as well as the total cost of ownership. And also because now everyone go into, say we as a consumer, we go mobile for government, they have e services, online services and bank. They have say literally real time payment and beyond the traditional financial services. So just in terms of technology, it moves so fast. So anything that you mentioned earlier about project for five years is like the two and a half generation of technology. And normally with those big program, the thing I observed was, and actually I think it was the fault of IT professional, we locked into scope and we want people to sign up. So I have no surprise, after five years, the scope was still somehow reference to the original scope and direction of five years.

Heath Gascoigne (09:16):

Previously ago. Yeah.

Tien Nguyen (09:18):

Yes. Ago it was like

Heath Gascoigne (09:19):

Out of date,

Tien Nguyen (09:20):

Sure, we might have some change, but the scope was just locked in. So you don’t have that flexibility.

Heath Gascoigne (09:27):

Yeah. Okay. So listen there,

Tien Nguyen (09:29):

Technology. Yeah, I think the second part, it is also about people don’t stay. That’s my observation, especially at the leadership. So without a sponsor, you then, sure you have a complex project that you have to reengage with the newcomer, explain show convince, and by the time that person gets some hands on the job, he or she decide to move on. So I think that is my observation to what you just mentioned about the speed of those transformation project.

Heath Gascoigne (10:09):

So the two factors here, the speed being technology is probably driving transformation and well part of the transformation and at the speed that technology is currently changing, if you are going to take long time on your transformation as you’re just saying, accessibility, speed and cost have come down so much or costs come down so much speed up a lot, total cost of ownership, dropping that organization, if you’re going to take five years, do your transformation to the last point. Your requirements that you had five years ago have just now, the usefulness of them once they’re implemented has now been the lifecycle of them has been halved and you need to change. And so that part there about flexibility is probably a key part is that there’s funny agile versus waterfall. We all want to be agile. And then it comes to the story of what do you mean by agile? Exactly. Because agile has many, almost like business transformation, it means different things to different people and agile means different things to different people. So they can say, we want to have this done, they have the locked in requirements five years ago the world’s moved, but they’re still locked in on the original requirements. But they say the agile

Tien Nguyen (11:31):

Yes. I think your point, it’s really highlight one key aspect of business. It is context

Or whatever you call, you call story, you call it requirement, you call it vision. It come with the context and the context. Surprise, surprise, it has a show life. It has, I call it expiry date used by date because it is like say five years ago maybe you don’t even talk about let’s say e-signature as a need, but now it is, right? Yeah. So the idea, it is definitely change over the time. So the business context, and that is why my work in the space of process automation, I think I can relate to the change of technology. I always go through all those buzzword and change and trend. I just come down to, okay, what is the context of now? And was your, we say, okay, Aja or any idea people have as a requirement are different people, but the context would be the same at that point in time or for that organization. So you might see it from a different perspective, but you are in the same room. So if I can bring you back to that memory lane, at least we have a way to move forward rather than try to say, okay, these ideas is still valid. Now what is the context?

Heath Gascoigne (13:10):

Yes. Yeah, that’s the missing part. I think that question there we’ll get onto in a minute. I talked about automation and then there is automation, r, p, a, robotic process automation, and then there’s let’s say derivatives of R P A and you have int intelligence intelligent R P A or intelligent automation. So where does the line change from being going from automation, robotic automation to intelligent automation?

Tien Nguyen (13:41):

That is a great question and I must say not much.

Heath Gascoigne (13:47):

Yeah, not

Tien Nguyen (13:48):

Much. Why? Because what I give you here is just a practical approach. It is like cut to the chase. For me, everything is just in term of automation. Let’s just go back in terms of say, let’s just go for the definition of automation. Automation. You have the machine to do things for you, the same set of tasks. So you have a predictable outcome. You have the high level of trust and certainty because you control the input, you control the process. And so the outcomes can be in a certain way, certain range. And now we move on to what we call robotic process automation, R p a. And it was just basically they call it the rule-based automation. Yes rule. Basically we have software robot to replicate the business process that people work on. It could be like say a simple task like say check, email, invoice, mailbox, move it into a certain folder, download it, extract information, and then follow on with account payable, account receivable or admin task.

Or you can have it at a long process where you say, okay, I have invoice. Can I check for stock? Can I check for delivery? In the end, it’s still business rules. The RPA is about you work on business rules and people get wronged or the wrong impression. At least for me, it is focusing on the step that human do and say, oh, problem solve. No, the real problem, the meaty part is the business process. The business rules, it’s not a step. It is the rules where you say, Hey, this is the data, this is how I’m going to validate it, how I’m going to record it. For me, my definition of robotic process automation is about you move data across application and apply business rules on the fly as a user, human user. Why human user? Because it is for human to have the trust. You can audit it, you can backtrack if it goes wrong and it could be your liability.

Heath Gascoigne (16:00):

Yeah, okay. So you

Tien Nguyen (16:02):

Can’t see it. So that is the R P A. And then for me, now the part where we say, Hey, we have something called intelligent automation, cut to the chase. It is just about now we shifted the lab, we go back to the starting point of input. With R P A, we work because we work on rule base. So it has to be very strict in terms of basically structured input. It’s like the form versus a complaint email. If you complain about a product, I’ll give you a form where you just select or Dropbox or a rated button selected checkbox. Yep, it is fit for robot. But then if I led you to just write an email where you free form, give me your emotion, yeah, you want something and then you want others. It is the kind of in the past robotic process, automation would not touch it, touch it.

But then with intelligent automation, the way I see it is the intelligent is nothing but you use AI power solution to transform those unstructured input into structure. And there we go. So it is just like you have a car assembly line, you have to wait to work it at one, you have everything tidy, and then the whole machinery will work as expected process. Otherwise you just plug in, you have something at the front to say, okay, I’m also going to sort the input in let’s say part. So that is the intelligent For me, the part around intelligent automation is just to highlight that, hey, we can bring AI into the automation seamlessly. And this is the danger part. People intentionally or not, they say that they think that the part around the rules can be resolved, can be handled by ai. Can we say, Hey, we are going to learn from machine learning.

It is dangerous. Why I say dangerous, you are not because think about who going to sign up for those decision. At the end of the day, let’s say an insurer, the machine, if you say, okay, I don’t follow certain rules, I just basically work on a black box, learn, okay, what if it was a wrong decision and now you keep doing it? What if there’s a new yes, latest update, change in regulation. If it is a change in regulation, certainly you will have a very small number of case show up with that Catholic change, but you have the legacy record. So the model will just say, okay, I’ll go with the crown. That’s the danger part of AI based decision. If you follow with the crowd, it is devastating. So non-compliant people, life going to be impacted. So for me, that is the difference.

Heath Gascoigne (19:18):

Okay, so that’s an interesting part there about the crowd. It’s like, what is it? It’s like, what is the book? I think it’s a Jim Collins book where it talks about you,

Tien Nguyen (19:31):

This number per crown.

Heath Gascoigne (19:33):

Yeah, the example used in that book was about counting the number of marbles in a jar, and it gave the question to everyone, well, students in the class and no one being an expert. And they had a guess. And then they had an expert who was an expert at estimation, who he made his estimation on the size of the marbles and the size of the volume, everything. And it was the sum of the crowd that was closer than the actual result, than the expert himself. So the takeaway was even the expert, trained, educated, et cetera, experience the sum of the crowd having no experience, had a greater estimation, a more accurate estimation than the expert. But here you’re saying that the challenges with intelligent automation is that you could get it wrong if you focus on the wrong thing. Like that crowd, there could have been, if you gave ’em another task, they would’ve all collectively focus on the wrong thing. And so you’re saying that wrong thing is the rules. If you focus on the rules or give the rules away, that is the problem. You need to control the rules.

Tien Nguyen (20:46):

Absolutely. Absolutely. Definitely. There are certain ways for AI to play in the space of let’s say probability work it out. But I would say if you really want to have the outcome right now, we don’t talk about the art of possibility. We talk about real outcome here. For a business, for a decision maker, it is very simple. You go where you can have the most value, the least amount of risk and liability. And I say liability because I, I’ve seen real consequence where I think was why in the past, but now the company pay the penalty record penalty because of automation, because of very simple, the change of regulation. If you don’t catch up with the change of regulation, it is your liability. And now you get into the hand of either say an outdated rules in the business rule that you put into the automation or you leave AI to help you to decide it, make the decision, then you are vulnerable for liability.

Heath Gascoigne (22:03):

Okay. So if you were going to adopt intelligent automation, two parts there would be that you do control the rules. The challenge is if the rules are outdated, you’re in trouble. If you were to use automation, intelligent automation there, it would be to maybe trigger you or trigger or make you alert that the rules have now changed, that the rules that you had coded into your intelligent automation would also need reviewing.

Tien Nguyen (22:29):

Absolutely. I think it is also part of the in line with the business transformation. Basically, you have to have that complex sational awareness and change management embedded into the organization. When I say change management, I do not say it lightly. I mean it and I carry it out. I always pay attention to say in the context of say, in an organization, complex organization in Australia that they handle with say a hundred millions dollar daily.

Heath Gascoigne (23:06):


Tien Nguyen (23:07):

Yeah, big one. I look up at say email when they notify, Hey, we’re going to have some change here, there system. I always try to break it down to does it make sense for us to be aware the alert? Because it is like nowadays, whether you talk about tech, you talk about business, we talk about dependency, great of dependency, especially with data, definitely. If you don’t really play with change management, not just by the book, by the framework, but actually have the mindset, then you’re going to ruin the effort and lost the opportunity.

Heath Gascoigne (23:57):

Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So that was a good segue into maybe your approach there that you follow. So I just want to wrap up the first part. We talked about R P A and what they’re doing well, and so we covered R P A. That may be the spectrum. So automation, R p, A to intelligent automation and your definition. But the last one I quite liked, we talked around there about the rules, and when people hear automation, at first it was the sky is falling and it’s, oh, no, it’s all bad news going to lose our jobs. And well, maybe not. Maybe what you find is it might automate the mundane, the simple tasks, low decision making effort. Now you can work on at the humans, the complex decision-making stuff. So your role may become more exciting because you don’t have to do the double keying, the download the document from the email and double key that into a spreadsheet.

Then you’re going to extract that for some mi. So wasn’t, I don’t think the sky was falling the reality, the sky didn’t fall on the end. And then we came to ai and so, oh, whoa, whoa. Now we’ve gone from automation to AI and people starting to say the same thing. Well, the sky’s falling. We’re going to lose our jobs. Say, well, okay, there is dangers and the danger being, and you sit there with the control. Don’t give away the control. And if you do have any AI in your intelligent automation, it’s around alerting or notifying you around the change in those rules or when your rules will be impacted by some regulation changes.

Tien Nguyen (25:35):

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Heath Gascoigne (25:37):

So, okay. Yep. Karen,

Tien Nguyen (25:38):

May I just add one more point about earlier you talk about a question whether automation or R p a or be it intelligent automation? Is it hype or not?

Heath Gascoigne (25:51):


Tien Nguyen (25:53):

I can give you my full spiel. Okay. If I look back, it is like a long history. R B A actually at least been around for 20 years in Allstar in the uk.

Heath Gascoigne (26:07):

Oh wow.

Tien Nguyen (26:07):

At the back of those bank, I think Barclay was one of the end also Royal Bank Scotland. It was about, say after hour bank account reconciliation. If in the past you have literally as by the time the bank closed, you will have people to basically rock the sleeve and work on those tasks. And then R P A was, let’s say, part of some sort of ad hoc, let’s start as a PhD research project, turn into something real. So it’s about 20 years for the industry to move from back room into where we are now. So I think it is not a hype, it is real because literally you and me and everyone, we take it for granted. And I think that is, for me, it is the real beautiful of automation. It is going to be invisible because it’s so embedded into our life. One form of automation. I can tell you people now will not talk about R O I or question about it. A leaf. A leaf. A leaf is a form automation, right? You go up in the elevator.

Heath Gascoigne (27:23):

Yeah. Oh, yes, yes, yes. The lift, yes.

Tien Nguyen (27:26):

What is the r o I of that elevator, right? And people take it for granted, but for me it is always the direction of let’s say automation or any kind technology. It is not a hype. We’re going to pass that certain point, but it’s basically it’s going to embed it into our life and it should.

Heath Gascoigne (27:50):

Yeah, I like that. Is that, I think maybe if it was a design principle and you’re in a project and it would be the automation is embedded into the process, the transformation, so well, you don’t even see it. It’s invisible to your point. I think that would be, it’s a part of us every day. And so the hype, there’s no hype. The thing is real, it exists. It’s not the sky’s falling, Hey, hey, not that you’re going to lose your jobs or everyone’s going to lose your jobs. There’s an opportunity here and maybe it’s re-skilling opportunity, but we get that point in another time. So we started to get into the approach. So the first thing you said there is, well, a lot around context, right? Context is huge. You started talking around the steps and change management now, and some organizations, I want to say all organizations, but some organizations, they’re very immature in their project space and the P M O project management office that’s not that mature.

If the, I see now probably in the last few years, two, three, maximum five, that it’s almost every change transformation project, transformation project rather has a change manager on it. Previously change manager didn’t exist. And now the focus around the people change, which is fantastic. These businesses run by people. And you talked about earlier, or maybe we touched briefly on that before the call is these people and process and technology are run by people as part of your transformation and that’s often overlooked the people element. But you’re saying change management is a key factor in the transformation first one and the context and the multilayer, the complexity of the layers that exist in the organization. And so let’s talk about that for a minute because there’s an organization, you are talking in terms of strategic operational and then the supporting and probably where the implementation of AI actually happens with the development and implementation. And B A U uses it and then executives get to see the outcome of it.

Tien Nguyen (30:15):

Sure. I really like how you put it together under the theme of business transformation and also the hierarchy of organization. Let’s just start from, say my perspective as I see it happen from textbook, definitely we see the clear cut of, let’s call it above the line, below the line and basically in the middle, very much say executive middle manager down to say front line and then B A u. I do see that as off now in the textbook it was unchanged. But in reality, my observation is now, right now, let’s say with the economic downturn where people talk about, let’s say cut down the inefficient, let’s cut down the efficiency, let’s make decision faster, fast. What does it mean? It means the middle layer all of a sudden become you’re not that productive. The question is why you are here, why you will be here tomorrow? Why? Tell me why, why, why. So that’s one observation I’ve seen. And the other one was say true where people say, Hey, we have a flat organization. We have a flat structure. So what does it mean? It means literally we don’t have much of middle layer, let’s say the messenger.

Yeah, we just have one direct decision maker and make things happen. So if you see those two dynamic aspect in modern organization right now, for example, we talk about the context and then we talk about change management in business transformation, automation play a part in it. I think the business context really drive the morale in the company, let’s say in organization, in a very fragile state. People keep saying that a happy employee is going to be a happy client better. And we do the opposite way as soon as there was a warning in the economics forecast. So for me it just say that sure, it is good to have a structure in terms of let’s say the hierarchy. But in reality now, especially with business transformation, we no longer have the luxury of time to the second part around change management. The change management, we can you make a great point about change manager, however, the question is about was there any real impact?

Why? Because the manage change manager, as I can see, the role was not very active from the very beginning of the journey. Literally it’s just about hand over the key. Then change manager will, it’s just like a real estate agency. They got to walk you through to see the house when it’s already there. You have the brick, you have everything. Here you go. This is the key, this is the house. So what it is like, okay, you B a u, your staff, this is what it is, this is the change. I’ll train you. We try to, I think in a way we try to craft the perfect message

Rather than say really facilitate the change. Why I think it is like human factor here. It has come back to that context that I mentioned earlier where organization now they react to the market rapidly. You don’t really have that luxury of time to wait and see and wait for wait out option. It is all about action. It’s about respond. If we go get it wrong, do it again. So I think these two part with context and change management, they interplay and we probably have to adapt to it and make the positive outcome. That’s my perspective in terms of any transformation.

Heath Gascoigne (34:55):

Okay. So the context is always key. I think that part I think is generally missed that people don’t understand the context of the operating. And you said a very key point before. In most cases, the context is the same for everyone, but they’re looking at an organization, but they’re looking at it for a different perspective. And then so you said earlier to got to bring it back to get maybe the refocus on, okay, where are we right now? Okay, we’re in 2023, we’re in the second quarter just to go into the third. We’ve got competitors that are chomping at the bit to release a product. Then we’re sitting here, we’ve got some month on month, we’re looking great, so we’re just crews. I said, well, okay. So we’ve understood the context and it will be through the certains perspective. The operations go, yep, my boxes we’re moving the widgets through the process we’re good.

And with a different perspective in the same context. See, the CFO is looking at it and he’s going, our margins are dropping, and c e O is looking and is going, the competitors are coming. And so in some perspectives they’re looking fantastic and others they’re looking not. But the key part is establish that context to start with and let’s get everyone on the, I think words to your effect or rephrasing what you’re saying is on the same page and then understand where we are from that point. Now that’s context is key. And that’s the part we said driving morale. And that’s interesting. That’s coming into the people part, right? So yeah, happy staff, happy customer. That’s what, and I talk about this when I go into clients and transformations and they talk about they have these great, amazing values and I say, okay, let’s be clear here.

There is espoused values and there’s enacted values. These things espouse. This is what you’d like to do and enacted is what you’re actually doing. And so this part we just said there about customers, what they’re happy staff, happy customers, that’s what they’d like to happen. But the reality is they’re not happy staff at all. They should look after the staff. Yeah, it’ll get to the outcome of happy people, but no that they’re not focusing on that. So that part of that context is great. And the second part there you said about change management. Yeah, we don’t have one. We don’t have the luxury of time. And the questionnaire you said about what was the real value prior change management was, and I’ve seen it myself and you’ve read in my mind, is that prior they would, and the real estate analogy is perfect. It’s almost like recruitment. The jobs are there and all you are doing is like, oh, here you go. Handing the job over to the candidate and then asking for a check or the clip of the ticket along the way. So what was the real value that you added there, please? I might’ve missed it. So before it was more of a message, okay, now this is the change. And now as you’re saying it is no, the role is actually the facilitation of the change, taking them through the journey properly.

Tien Nguyen (37:58):

Absolutely. And I can share with you the link of my article I wrote about it. It was about building trust framework in the adoption of emerging technology, but also this practical for business transformation as well, or digital transformation. Where I might argue was you cannot build trust simply by build it basically. I call it MythBuster build it, and they love it, they use it and they will love it. Others, one myth, the other one was, well, it just bring everyone along, but be selective and only show them as thin progress. In a way, it is still, I say the same mantra. We build it, we bite it, we have you to come in as an open consultation session, but whatever you want, we’ll put it in the backlog. So you’re going to stay in the room that we built, use whatever we have now as the M V P or first release or first trench of the transformation. Yeah. So my point in that article was all about it is not easy, but if you want to build a trust, and then I say just like the point you mentioned earlier around business transformation, it is about the continuous improvement of any organization. It is about the trust that people willing to believe in it and walk the talk.

Heath Gascoigne (39:46):

Yes. The point I was saying enacted versus vous espoused is you’ve got to actually do to say the things you say you’re going to do. And so in trust, you’ve actually got to trust. Okay, so I think we got, so the approach we covered off on the definition and we got the what’s the industry doing right or wrong, the fear. And we got the spectrum. We little bit got there into your approach that you have when join a project, whether it’s going to be automation, r p a down the end towards the intelligence automation. So have you finished on that one? On the approach? My approach?

Tien Nguyen (40:40):

No, we haven’t. Let’s talk about

Heath Gascoigne (40:43):

It. Yeah,

Tien Nguyen (40:44):

Absolutely. All right. So in term of approach, maybe I’ll make it more practical for everyone. Just as an example, at an organization I came in for their C F O division business continuous improvement slash innovation slash transformation. The idea was there for a long time, over a year, let’s just say over a year, more than one year. And I came in and the task was very simple. We have a green light down, let’s make it happen. So we talk about we have a blank canvas. So how do we start, what do we do here? The conventional approach, if you ask for, say my colleague in let’s say the big four or any kind of delivery specialist, they’ll jump in and say, okay, we are going to build you a pipeline of opportunity. We give you the run. Pretty much schedule the dream. It is The promise was tangible.

Heath Gascoigne (41:59):

The promise. Yeah.

Tien Nguyen (42:01):

Yeah. For me, I wasn’t in that great position. Why? Because I know on the ground. Yeah, basically I see it. It is a blank canvas. It means you literally got nothing. So it be before you can dream of the pipeline. What is the infrastructure? Oh, we have it. Right? Great. There’s always something like when you look at now it’s the context part. And in practice, in any organization, there’s no one organization. You have multiple organization within the organization, let’s say mothership, and then you have leadership. The crews that different speed, different direction, they have different worry, different priorities. Sure, it might have the platform, but if you want it, you have to get in line. They already get in line for

Heath Gascoigne (43:02):

It’s priorities

Tien Nguyen (43:04):

Time. Yes. And also this is about say the funding. If you don’t show the outcome, then how would you make it sustainable? People keep talking about say the R o I, the saving the transformation. But for me on the ground, and I know from a business perspective, two things. What is the outcome? Is it sustainable? It is a good idea, fantastic. But it is out context. We move on, the money going to be spent on something else. So that is the context, the situational awareness. It’s for real. I’m not just talking about the pipeline. Hey, let’s come in the pipeline. And the second part is about the pipeline, like you just mentioned earlier where people will say that the actual people, real people. What do you think if a stranger come to you and say, Hey, tell me or nicely say, oh, we would like to see how you work and this by the way, we can automate it. And isn’t it a fantastic idea where we are going to save the money and we don’t need, we are going to save f, d, e, blah blah blah, r ois through the roof.

Heath Gascoigne (44:18):


Tien Nguyen (44:19):

To approach going to drive the same outcome. People won’t feel secure, they won’t welcome you. And a lot of tension. So I know it’s the second part. It’s all about even if you can’t have the infrastructure, if you cannot win the heart and mind of the people, it is going to be a hell of a journey. It is not easy. It’s not about all the way from the top. They say what they want, but the people on the ground

Heath Gascoigne (44:51):

Operations, they

Tien Nguyen (44:52):

Have to be with you. And last but not least, it is a buy-in of the whole command, like the line, the change of command

Heath Gascoigne (45:04):


Tien Nguyen (45:05):

Yeah. So you have, for me, it is all about those couple aspects. For the context. Context,

Heath Gascoigne (45:13):


Tien Nguyen (45:13):

Approach, how do I solve it, how do I solve that problem? Number one, I know that if I see myself as just an individual, no one will listen to me, will pay attention, I’ll get lost that organization. So I have to stand on the shoulder of the giants.

Heath Gascoigne (45:31):

Yes, stand on the shoulder of the giants.

Tien Nguyen (45:33):

You have to be the voice and the face of the group, the division you are represented them in front of others on behalf and also for the benefit of the organization. So it comes to the first point is know where you are. You’re not an individual. You are standing on the shoulder of the giant for them, work for them. Secondly, I actually for real, I read business plan,

Heath Gascoigne (46:06):

Corporate plan. I read

Tien Nguyen (46:09):

It from the intranet. I read it thoroughly. I go through things that I say benefit management framework.

Heath Gascoigne (46:19):


Tien Nguyen (46:19):

Won’t touch it, but I do. At least I do. I know how to use it. I use it. That’s why I read it. It’s not because I love it and no one asked me to do so. So basically I go through the dry, very distant material, but why? I put a lot of effort into it.

Heath Gascoigne (46:43):

Why? Very,

Tien Nguyen (46:44):

Very simple. I’ll use it at my lever.

Heath Gascoigne (46:49):


Tien Nguyen (46:50):

Think about, say you have a lever, you can basically move things

Heath Gascoigne (46:56):

So you leverage.

Tien Nguyen (46:58):

Yep, you leverage. So here the material is there, why? What did I look for? Those material, strategic goal, the vision, the time. The time was actually the critical part, the milestone. And also let’s say the value that the organization going forward and also let’s say tactical

Heath Gascoigne (47:25):


Tien Nguyen (47:25):

Or tactical goal and also pain point. So basically I try to extract those information and use it as my point of reference to talk to all the change of command. I rather than convince them, okay, they should do this, I’ll say, Hey, this

Heath Gascoigne (47:44):

Is what you see individual,

Tien Nguyen (47:45):

Exactly what you do exactly the organization doing. If you do it, actually you are ahead of the curve. Why not? Right? And I’ll help you to do so. So that is my second approach. It is about, okay, make use of those collateral materials.

Heath Gascoigne (48:05):


Tien Nguyen (48:06):

Collateral definitely. You need to be creative to use it in the way of, let’s say my passion was also in marketing. So rather than think about let’s say the market about the message communication, I borrow a few principle from marketing in a very practical way. For example, with those material, I think in marketing of this, okay,

Heath Gascoigne (48:33):

The winning hearts and minds.

Tien Nguyen (48:35):

Yeah, win winning heart and mind. Okay, do I have any number, any fact? Sure, I can bring some fact and okay, here’s the goal. Here’s the fact, the context. Great. We have some evidence story here. Talking point

Heath Gascoigne (48:50):

Here. Yes. Story. It’s the story, yeah.

Tien Nguyen (48:53):

Yes. This is relevant. It’s not just for the sake of storytelling. It’s not like another report, another dashboard. It is very much very focused on, I always stick to the, let’s say the strategic goal of the organization or any pain point basically just to show, okay, we have a win here, let’s do it. Let’s win the championship. The third,

Yeah, the third approach. That was the third approach I would share five practical point that you can try out. The fourth one, it was more about the people, actually the actual people on the frontline start. Normally I would just say, okay, I’ll sit down with them. I’ll go through what I do earlier with you about, okay, this is the definition of a robotic process automation for example. Or for other case maybe we talk about business transformation, but in layman term, term actually layman, yeah, you make it like a dialogue, a conversation, and even you have to to go further than the definition. For me, after I show them the definition, I’ll go further with, I refer to my own framework where I work at the previous place when I first started automation after 16 years working there and then automation in the end I think, oh, I’ve learned a thing or two and put

Heath Gascoigne (50:28):


Tien Nguyen (50:29):

Yes. I call it automation readiness framework. It’s just three things. It is about, we talk about process automation, but for me, what’s come first is data. And in data it break that into three pieces. The type, is it structure or unstructured? Is it digital or it is in another format like video, audio. And last but not least, is the data connected? When I say connected, it is about can you use the same piece of data and move it across multiple dataset or system without? You need people to explain it or I call it say a dictionary. We have James Smith in here. Actually it is James two Smith in another system. We need to that cap dictionary in between. So I look for those cap like hint to say, okay, data. And I explain to people to say, Hey, this is what I wanted to see. And I’m sure if you struggle with your work, let’s talk about data. Yeah. Was it all good or all clear? Or you actually have to look up and you ask and wait, and sometimes you make it wrong just because you don’t have sufficient information or Right information. Yes,

Heath Gascoigne (51:56):

Not the right data

Tien Nguyen (51:58):

Or missing data. Yeah, we talk about data literacy, but for me, if you actually talk to people about pain point with their work, you are likely to see data come up almost like the very first number one issue. So after data, then I will look into process and in process here I will again, I’ll break it down into three aspects of the process. Number one, around process, can I measure it? The technique I learned, I borrow from Lean six Sigma.

This is my habit. I pick and choose. I get things, things from one place to the others rather than stick to one principle or practice. Sorry, my light, one of the light just shut off. Yeah. So for me it is the measurements, like one, one, yeah, ms. Normally I’ll use things like say value stream mapping as the easiest, most approachable tool set. Where I work with people, it’s just all about can I measure the waste? Can I measure the current state? It is extremely powerful. I tell you, it is extremely powerful because the higher the story travel, the more the decision maker going to rely on those raw data. And if you can make it real because, okay, this is my conversation with X on this date, and then validate by Y and Z, they’re going to actually look at those data and make decision on those data. And only they’ll take your recommendation rather than say, oh, let’s just pull another report. Yeah, that is some sort of magic touch here. If you get data from the source,

Heath Gascoigne (53:56):

Yeah, data from the source

Tien Nguyen (53:58):

Will say, yeah, we say, Hmm, I liked it. Rather than have to spend time on say, another 10 20 dashboard, another five, six meeting. So that’s the first thing about process, process, measurement,

Heath Gascoigne (54:13):

Measure. Yep. You

Tien Nguyen (54:15):

Have to be able to measure it, make the invisible visible. That’s my

Heath Gascoigne (54:19):

Timeline. Ah, yes. I say that a lot. I say that business transformation, but that’s exactly that. Or business architecture make visible the invisible. Okay, so the first part of the process is measure. What’s the second part? You said there’s three parts?

Tien Nguyen (54:34):

Yep. The second part is about very simple, very simple thing. I talked to a couple people about the same process, about the outcome. Just to say, is the process standardized and is there any room for optimize? I’ll ask them upfront,

Heath Gascoigne (54:54):

Standardize, can you optimize to get

Tien Nguyen (54:56):

A few of it? Sure. That will give some hint. And then, yeah, those hint, that is a great chance for me to gather more information, not just data information. I think in a way, just like investigation, you have to be able to find the meaty part out conversation. Not just, here’s the form, let’s figure out the format. Oh, we have a suspect. No, it is not that easy. But it is the fun, actually. I’ve learned that as you have those conversation, you build the trust,

You build the trust, and sometime you might have the way to get around, let’s say roadblock from those conversation. Last but not least about those processes, it is about if we going to optimize it, what is it like? And a lot of the time, I think the same thing with business transformation or any project we talk about as is and two B car stage. For me, the two B stage is funny enough, I’ve learned it now that actually you don’t, the convention and the common approaches, you ask people, what do you want the future to be like? So that’s the two B, and we take it for granted, okay, this is the two B and now a few blank. But now I just through trial and error battle scar, I’ve learned that as something that we, they call a zero base approach. So basically here is, yes. So basically you start from the end. You not say, okay, I’m here now and I want to be there as my next stage, so I’ll try. No. We say, okay, no, doesn’t matter where you are now. This is where you want it to be. It’s just like football. You want to be the champion by the end of the season. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Very simple. You win every game.

That’s a short strategy, right?

Heath Gascoigne (57:16):


Tien Nguyen (57:16):

That is the approach.

Yeah, it is. I think about Manchester City, they’re a champion. Now what is the next stage for them? Oh, they start from the end, right? Yeah, they start from the end. We are the champion. So the same things for the process for example, or any business operation, you can say, okay, I’m here now I’m stuck. So the logical step, if it’s to get out the trouble or okay, I want something more than just get out the trouble. So what is it like? So for me, it is the important question that I will have with the, it is more like say conversation with decision maker after I gather enough data to get the time with them.

Heath Gascoigne (58:11):

Okay, so that’s the conversation you’ve gone down come from senior executives down to operations. Now you’ve asked the question of the zero based approach. Where do you want to be in the future? And then so you’ve gone now back to strategic and said, look, you’ve spoken to ops, you’ve seen the problems. You’ve asked the question, can you standardize and optimize and optimize? What does that look like? And now you’ve gone back to the senior executives is the big question and say zero based approach. If you are now the champions, what does championship look like?

Tien Nguyen (58:48):

Yes, yes. Because think about this, we why conversation is important. The why actually cover two aspect for any decision maker. Number one, they are too busy, they are too busy for the details. And number two, it is about the dependency, the complexity of business that we mentioned earlier. So this conversation is about the choice they’re going to make or the bet they’re going to put on one. If they say they acknowledge that, hey, the complexity is too much, I don’t think we can get away with it. So just gradually change, then okay, that’s fine. It’s just where we are now. Let’s just move to the next step and hopefully we can figure out the next three step after that. However, if because they’re short of time, but they have the ambition and they see the potential from the data that we gather, they can say, okay, they have another choice to say, Hey, let’s just rather than accept those challenge from the complexity dependency, just start from a blank canvas. So basically just get away from those complexity, start fresh. And I think that is important. For example, think about let’s say the change of, let’s say in financial services in particular, we talk about they have an agenda in term of change from law regulation, and it means things that work in the past, we’ll be expired by that certain time. So you’re going to do transformation.

What you’re going to do, you’re going to make it as a change item. Or actually you can embrace it. You say, Hey, we are going to build something new for the future, not just for the past,

Heath Gascoigne (01:00:53):


Tien Nguyen (01:00:54):

For now and for the future.

Heath Gascoigne (01:00:56):

So the thinking there is about having the zero base approach is that the maybe current thinking is they’re constrained with the environment, the context they’re in, and that is inhibiting their ability to think of the art of the possible. And so by having, putting that aside as you’re saying, and then saying, just tell me you are the champions. And then now we know that we are the champions. What does being champion looks like? Or we are efficient with our sales process, our onboarding, our ability to service. We’ve got all that right top line, bottom line, middle line is all looking good, all good margins. We a month to month increasing, we’re looking great. So okay, that’s zero base working back to now where we are, what are the changes? And then that’s where I think you talk about the complexity comes in is that there are two constraints with the current complexity.

They can’t think of that place, but you first, you take them their heart and minds, as you said with the marketing, the storytelling, the heart and minds. So that place out in the future and then go, okay, now we’re here. That was a hard part for you even to think about, even conceived. Now we’re here in the zero based approach. Now let’s work backwards of what can we do? Maybe the little minor change, get some wins, build the trust, and we’ve got to de-risk the transformation by starting on some small elements of that overall change and then build from there.

Tien Nguyen (01:02:17):

Absolutely. One example we can share to elaborate that approach was a process that I look into. I actually sat down with the people who work on it, think about this. This is like say a five days a week exercise. They have a very clear timeframe to get it done. They can’t get it wrong. It was about 300 click, 300 miles click and typing

Heath Gascoigne (01:02:49):

For the whole

Tien Nguyen (01:02:50):

Process. And when we talk about report, we talk about is this complex for financial report, it relate to cashflow and it’s multiple capital items is heavily dictated by the regulation. So 300. And then on top of that, that process was when I ask about document, just for reference, I got two version, one version 10 years old, the other version, the newer version, six years old.

Heath Gascoigne (01:03:24):


Tien Nguyen (01:03:24):

So you tell me, right? So I’ve learned that as part of the conversation. I’ve learned that it turned out that apart from that one calculate outcome, the report, they will have to do some ad hoc work to have the bundle to serve the current need. But then in, I think at the time, in about four months time, as the regulation change, they’re going to be a lot more things change to the current work a lot more. And what they have provide might not be relevant for a long future.

Heath Gascoigne (01:04:03):

So 10 to six year old report with the amount of regulation change currently underway, not 16 years ago, the current amount underway, if they’ve got reports that maybe the template was constructed 10 years ago, they’re going to be in big trouble.

Tien Nguyen (01:04:21):

Absolutely. And you think about the whole thing is about, let’s say the logistic, the training, the backfield, and you think that throw through the mix of covid, people got sick, work from home,

Heath Gascoigne (01:04:33):

Work from home, everything challenge.

Tien Nguyen (01:04:38):

So basically I look at it and I talk to the client, I explain and say, okay, we follow through. It’s going to be a long journey because I can see they do some unexplainable step. It is supposed to be say nice and clean, reasonable step, but then, oh, hang on. Sometime they just type in somewhere randomly and it is not consistent, but it is the practice. I could not question why it turned out it’s because of those constraint in certain

Heath Gascoigne (01:05:16):

Systems. Some legacy they Yes,

Tien Nguyen (01:05:17):

Yes. Legacy. And also because in the past thing goes wrong, reword mistrust. So they have to put basically guards control over like say two, three layer of control and report red flag just to make sure that things is correct.

Heath Gascoigne (01:05:37):


Tien Nguyen (01:05:37):

When you try to unbundle it, you don’t have that backstory. You just say, oh, this is the action, this is the action. And this is the part where I mentioned earlier with my definition of product process automation, I talk about business rules. That is my interest. It is my word. Not talking about the 300 click and type. It is boring. It is wrong. So okay, fast forward to the zero base approach. I work with my colleague, he was like, say the expert in the field. He know things inside and he understand the policy layer, not just the task layer. He understand the policy layer. So basically we redesign the process not from where we were not even know where we are now, 307, right? Wrong, is it, can we optimize it? Maybe? But for one, so we start from the end, we say, okay, this is the outcome. It’s going to be like why? Because it serve the purpose of today and tomorrow and serve the purpose of tomorrow is critical because you talk about the amount in a lot of money in say it could be a hundred millions daily. So definitely it was a brave move, put it that way, but for the right reason.

Heath Gascoigne (01:07:07):

Okay, so

The starting point there was that you had the zero approached. So you focus on the rules, the rules there being defined or captured in the policy. You have an expert there that helped you define the process based on the policy and with the changes that would happen to those policies. And the good part, and I think that’s so relevant. It’s not just defining how it will be today, but for tomorrow, the future with the anticipated changes. So you talked about it earlier, the building and scale, so that as the business changes, environment changes, the organization can change with it.

Tien Nguyen (01:07:48):

Absolutely. And I have to emphasize one more time. The zero base approach is so sexy, but you have to bring in the marketing flavor into it. It is the hundred millions daily transaction that is intentionally, basically I learned the process, I understand the impact and I know what make it reasonable to maker.

Heath Gascoigne (01:08:17):

So got the messaging, right?

Tien Nguyen (01:08:21):


Heath Gascoigne (01:08:21):

To sell the story

Tien Nguyen (01:08:24):

Right message,

Heath Gascoigne (01:08:25):

Right, the right. But

Tien Nguyen (01:08:27):

Then we actually, we show not just tell them. Yeah.

Heath Gascoigne (01:08:32):

Yes. So we spoke with this before that it is, and I like that. I’m going to quote you on it later on. For sure. Show me. Don’t tell me. And I think if that’s the message or voice that’s coming from the executive team is show me, don’t tell me that is, I think that’s missed. A lot of consultants will want to document it and say, well, it’s now documented. Is that documented is one thing. Maybe let’s show an M P V maybe or a proof of concept of how this actually works in operations. I don’t want you to tell me. I want you to show me.

Tien Nguyen (01:09:11):

Absolutely. Absolutely. So that is the part around optimization about whether we have a

Heath Gascoigne (01:09:23):


Tien Nguyen (01:09:24):

Yeah, the buy-in to say, okay, let’s start with, let’s go on with the zero base approach, or let’s just improve what we have now. So that’s the process now back my approach. Don’t want to take too much of your time. Maybe another time. And last but not least, it is about the last pillar for me in that automation readiness framework. It’s about system. It’s weird. We talk about process. Why would a care system, because once again it’s all about the interdependency of any organization and the speed of technology change. For me, this system will come down to three things. One, the system that they use today, what is the Shell Life?

Heath Gascoigne (01:10:12):

Shell life system?

Tien Nguyen (01:10:15):

Would they change it or they’re about to change it or they’re going to wind down the current system or it is obsolete in the next two years or so? That’s number one. Number two, it is about in the space of the system, can I have access to data?

Heath Gascoigne (01:10:34):

Access to data? What does it mean?

Tien Nguyen (01:10:36):

The data, I can test it because when you build something you have to be able to show people and for example, let’s say bank, it is extremely difficult to replicate the production and the non-production. So I’m not talking in the technical term, just very layman term. When you have something for real, it is very different from say a sandbox or a space like a workshop. The workshop arrangement is different from they did the real factory.

Heath Gascoigne (01:11:13):

Okay. So for the audience, if you’ve missed, we’re talking in a couple of technical terms here. We’re talking about sandbox, we’re talking about an environment, technology environment where you can play around in the sandbox in a play center where you can test things with no risk of it being have an impact to the rest of the organization or environment. So when we’re talking about readiness framework, your readiness framework got a few elements. So we’ve got the shelf life is that you’re asking your first question of what is the shelf life today? And so the question around that is if you’re picking a system or have a current system that’s about to end, you’ve got a burning platform, you better be prepared to replace it or upgrade it. And then it has got access to data. And the third part was,

Tien Nguyen (01:11:53):

The third part around those system was about is it stable?

Heath Gascoigne (01:11:58):

Is it stable?

Tien Nguyen (01:12:00):

Yeah. Is it like stable? Is there any dependency? For example, in finance for example, if you use certain e r P system, it is all cloud-based. The respond time sometimes was quite varied and even worse. I’ve seen one of the client, the team built an automation to replicate a step-by-step process of an agent and to a screen it just stay there for six minutes. I asked the guy, he was supposed to be an expert, say, Hey, can you explain to me why took so

Heath Gascoigne (01:12:43):


Tien Nguyen (01:12:45):

He told me that this is now relate to the second point I made about a system, about the difference in term of environment. So it turned out that when you run in test environment or build the environment, it’s fine, it’ll work fast by the way you actually move into the real

Heath Gascoigne (01:13:05):

World production.

Tien Nguyen (01:13:06):

Yeah, production. It’s just like hey wait, it failed, it crashed. Why the respond time was so varied. So it was the reality. I would not say theory. No, I’m talking about real battle sky here. This is

Heath Gascoigne (01:13:20):

Not a risk. It’s real.

Tien Nguyen (01:13:22):

It is real. He makes it to be like say obscure times, six minutes.

Heath Gascoigne (01:13:28):

There was nothing. Don’t worry about it. Yeah, it’s going to be okay. Relax, have a coffee, he’s fine. Yeah.

Tien Nguyen (01:13:36):

But still to be honest, he pointed out quite rightly for a manual process that the team going to go through, it would be about 30 minutes end to end with the robot software. It was roughly about 20 minutes. That’s number one. Number two, the robot going to work during Sunday, Saturday.

Heath Gascoigne (01:14:01):

Yeah, after hours.

Tien Nguyen (01:14:02):

And they say 4:00 AM in the morning until 10:00 PM So what is the point? Well what’s the point when you say, oh, you only say 10 minutes. No, the robot is a digital worker. That’s the key part. You have another worker, I call it the hybrid workforce. So you not just rely on that couple nine to five mentality or oh we have offshore team 24 by seven. You actually have another force here cheaper and more in a way flexible. You can scale up or you can wind down. So that is my approach with automation, but I think it’s also applicable for business transformation.

Heath Gascoigne (01:14:50):

Very good, very good. I’ll play it back. Hopefully I can remember I’ve written it all down. Well hopefully. So I’ll play it back in a minute. So the last one, last question. Knowing what you know, your years of experience, lots of different clients, if you could do it again differently from all this experience that you’ve got, you’re starting your career out for the first time, you want to impress or you want to deliver value, what’s your mantra and how are you going to do that? How are you going to be doing differently to what you’ve done before? Or would you do it exactly as you’ve discussed?

Tien Nguyen (01:15:22):

I would say it is a very difficult questions because as time goes by we have access to better tools and expectation of people is different and the business context is also changed. And for sure everywhere we go we learn something and then when we go to the next place, actually we are going to relearn it. So if I can do it again, if I can start again, I would say yeah, I would try to bring my approach and apply it early on. But still it is a team effort. It is not just myself who can do all the trick and get a client on board. I think the hardest questions, if I may to count to your question is what do clients really want?

Heath Gascoigne (01:16:18):


Tien Nguyen (01:16:19):

Do they want? Exactly. Sure. You can have 10 page, 20 page of let’s say requirement, job description, project like goal success factor may make it a hundred, make 200 what exactly they want. I think that is the hardest question. So even if I can do automation again, I think I still have to figure it out. I don’t have the perfect answer

Heath Gascoigne (01:16:52):


Tien Nguyen (01:16:52):

Tell or to know what client want for business automation.

Heath Gascoigne (01:16:59):

I think it comes back to the earlier point of it’s context is key and understanding the context and then probably the second question is, as you said there, what does the client really want? And then it’s focus on there. Now I think also the challenge with that, and it comes through experience you get to see it, is that the client doesn’t often know what they want. They think they know what they want until you show them maybe they aren’t of the possible. Maybe that’s going to get that saying business transformation become a bad word or business architect will become a bad word. The art of the possible. Well if that art of the possible saying gets in the wrong hands, the marketing guys who will say it’s all possible and it’s like well then the realists like you and I will come along and say, well what is actually practical?

Tien Nguyen (01:17:47):

Absolutely. I agree. One more point I like to add to that. That is it would be about the change of people. People don’t stay in the role. So even if we say okay, let’s ask the client and work it out with them, what do they want? But there’s no day there. It is just individual and individual of the day will make the decision of the next move. So it is like you try your best but then you play catch up all the time. And my only point here, I think perseverance and playful impact is the only combination I think will help you to have a meaningful journey with the client or with the work.

Heath Gascoigne (01:18:47):

So I think there’s a little lesson there for any newbie transformation consultants, there is persistence and then play for impact. And so like you just said there while you’re playing catch up and that might not be a comfortable position for most people to be used to or so if you are thinking about a career move or getting better, the discomfort that you may feel or have at the time with a client is like, that’s part of the course.

Tien Nguyen (01:19:19):

Absolutely. It could be a great experience and you actually see the impact of your work. But on the bright side, I try to see it spin it from, once again marketing. I try to see it from a perspective but play for impact and see the outcome, get the meaning of the outcome and wrap it nicely with a bow as a story of a winning story for the client and then for yourself. So for yourself you have it permanently, it is yours, it is like part of your career path, your journey,

Heath Gascoigne (01:20:05):


Tien Nguyen (01:20:05):

Start to tell to share. But for the client you give them that winning story. It’s not just for yourself interest but actually to share that, win that celebration with everyone. I think that’s the part related to the part of a win, you try to win the heart and mind and actually you’re going to do the top and you give them something that they say, yep, they’ve done something.

Heath Gascoigne (01:20:32):

They achieved something. Yeah, delivered something. Yeah. So I like how you said that on a positive note, leave it on a positive note. Yeah, I like when you leave a project and you have delivered the tangible changes and the business are using, working with those changes that are been implemented and their life is a whole lot easier and they’re more relieved, less stress. And you go, well that’s what I came for. And if we’re even lucky enough, you’ve imparted the knowledge and now the experience or the transformation that they have going through that process that they can go and do it themselves next time on their own. And if they want, of course they’ll call you back to support them or coach them. But they have now got the skill, like the muscle, they’ve now built the muscle, now they’ve got to use the muscle. That’s a rewarding part. Yep.

Tien Nguyen (01:21:16):

Yeah, that is a rewarding part. And now is more, I say the meaty part, the practical action. I would not just end with a story, good story for them to tell. Actually it’s a couple plays that the client allow me to basically help them to work on the part around the business, sorry, the benefit realization and benefit management. So it is not just, hey, this is a great journey, six months, 12 months where we are now potential. No, I help them to make it sustainable. It is about funding, it’s about the real impact, the ongoing change that they can make and capability.

Heath Gascoigne (01:22:03):


Tien Nguyen (01:22:04):

Help them to basically materialize it from the business perspective, operation improvement, not from a consultant perspective of how good I am. No, it is about them, where they are now, how better it is now. And they can materialize it. Once again, relate to the point I made about I read their corporate

Heath Gascoigne (01:22:27):


Tien Nguyen (01:22:29):

Strategic goal. It is like I do not invent the material, it is there. So now just say, okay, let’s just extract and measure where we see things that can relate to those key points. Make it all visible. This is how we are going to gather those information, make it into the habit and yeah, socialize it with decision maker to basically let the decision maker to tell the story. So they have two things, they have a story to tell and they have numbers,

Heath Gascoigne (01:23:06):

Story and numbers,

Tien Nguyen (01:23:07):

A way for them to gather data to basically keep that conversation going. So that is my, I think in a way is my approach to the approach to hand it over. Yeah, this is not just, okay, get job done, transactional relationship

Heath Gascoigne (01:23:27):

Transactions done. Yeah, no, yeah, I see you now I’m a big fan of that benefits realization and my approach there that is right smack dab in the whole middle of the model, benefits realization, benefits modeling, mapping, prioritization. And then that part there is so key and I think it’s missed in transformation at the moment, is that in the marketplace that benefits is something that’s done. As an afterthought though, someone called a benefits manager will rock up to a program after the program is almost finished and say, okay, which benefits did you realize? Well actually we’re not responsible for realizing the benefits. We’re responsible for the changes that when implemented over time the business will realize those benefits. And there’s two parts, immediate and final. But what we’ll do as a program, we’ll hand over the benefits realization plan to the business leaders, the business operational, and they will manage the realization. But the good part is those operation managers have been involved in the whole process. They helped us to find the benefits profiles from the beginning, the changes that enablers that when implemented will allow the business and enable the business to realize those. And we’ll give them a plan to manage it and it’s not realizing at the time or the value that they thought it quarter one, quarter two, et cetera. Then they can make the adjustments. So they do.

Tien Nguyen (01:24:41):

On that note, may I just share a couple of experience I have at least for my part, once one of my partners, the business partner, the firm partners, he told me that, okay Eric, if the client don’t know what they want, but you have to deliver certain result to it, make sure that you bring it under assumption. This is the assumption based on what we’ve known is the outcome. So I took it and applied it to the space of benefit management as well. I call it forecast forecasting and the client fine with it. Why? Because this is like two part. We build that cap matrix based on all the way all the to the corporate plan. And then we’ll be able to some sort of model and then projection forecasting. And then after that, as soon as we say deploy, then we will start to come back and gather some hard evidence evidence to say, okay, this is the forecast and this is the actual respond. Does it match? Not yes or no? And then we keep basically help them to calibrate it. But the main part for the business is if they don’t have the hard evidence right away, they can confidently use the forecast

And they say, okay, yeah, well because it is, they already know what is the margin going to be look like? Is it too much or too little? They can adjust it their forecast, but at least it is not all. We don’t know. Let’s wait. Now here we have a model, a forecasting model, and then we capture a couple of say early

Heath Gascoigne (01:26:43):


Tien Nguyen (01:26:44):

Initiative. And then because it is the decision maker’s job to make the final call. And if you have enough information, enough fact, enough assumption and somehow relevant material, yeah, they’re happy. Take it. Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s something I’ve learned just along the way is if you wait for the perfect answer to give to the client, you are in the wrong business because the client want you to help him or her to find the answer. And if there’s any limitation, tell them and give them that level of understanding.

Heath Gascoigne (01:27:37):


Tien Nguyen (01:27:38):

Yeah. The margin. I think it was also one of the reason why I could make a breakthrough in my career into from let’s say operation in telecom into business analytics and then into automation. I was able to give the executive literally in split second just enough data, just enough insight for them to make the decision or to make their point clear. So they say, oh, okay, this guy, he gave me the right things at the right time.

Heath Gascoigne (01:28:22):

Yep, yep. Okay. So I think the takeaway there is you gave them insights and then you caveat it when you didn’t have all the information and that was enough for them as opposed to what would the term be? Perfection doesn’t exist. So waiting for all the information all at once and the structure format that you wanted, it’s not going to happen. So come up with some forecasts and modeling, put your assumptions in there, disclose full disclosure and say, given this scenario, these and these things may happen. But the caveat is this and this, but this is our projections. So the best part being you have fully disclosed what the future may look like with some caveats where certain conditions, if this applies, then that first forecast is no longer relevant. Next one, if this all applies, it is relevant instead of waiting for everything, all the information.

Okay. Alright. Okay. So we might wrap it up there, Eric, there was a great conversation. Thank you very much. Okay, so now everyone can get ahold of you. I’ll put your contact details in the show notes. And also you mentioned your article that you wrote on, let me see here on building trust. And you cover in there that the myth, I think there might be three myths in there. So if everyone gets a hold of, Eric wants to know about intelligent automation and you’re in Canberra, the man is in Canberra, so in the heart or gold of the government space down there in Canberra. The whole of Australia government is basically in all of Canberra. So if they want to get a hold of you and the details in the show notes, also drop me the link to your article and I’ll put it there in the show notes. They can download it. Eric, what is the time over there in Australia right now? It’s be really early.

Tien Nguyen (01:30:15):

It is midnight.

Heath Gascoigne (01:30:17):

Oh my goodness. You’re a legend dude. You’re a legend. Okay,

Tien Nguyen (01:30:21):

Welcome. It’s my pleasure. It has been a great conversation. I think we still have some thing we can have another go for.

Heath Gascoigne (01:30:31):

Yeah, we’re coming for part two. We’ll schedule a part two.

Tien Nguyen (01:30:34):

Absolutely. Where we talk more about AI and basically the conversation about a AI and how top management consulting business now whispering to the EL executive AI business transformation in no time.

Heath Gascoigne (01:30:57):

Alright, that’d be a great conversation. One of my favorite subjects talking about the big four and how much help or not they do in transformation. Yeah. So that’ll be great. So we’re booking this, we’ll schedule a part two. Alright, thank you very much Eric. Have a good evening and look out for this coming out in about a week or two and then I’ll tag you on LinkedIn and you can share your network and say, okay, here I am. I was on this podcast, we spoke for two hours. Yeah,

Tien Nguyen (01:31:23):

My pleasure.

Heath Gascoigne (01:31:25):

Good night. Thank

Tien Nguyen (01:31:27):


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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