The Paradox of Enterprise Transformation

Enterprise transformation is a hot topic these days. Thanks to the catalysts of climate change, energy prices, and disruptive start-ups like Tesla, the worldwide automotive industry is being forced to re-imagine its collective future. Virtually every business, company or organization is either evaluating the best course of action for their respective transformation or is about to embark on their journey.

What is the Paradox of Enterprise Transformation?

All enterprise transformation is, conceptually, the same. To implement an effective and sustainable transformation, every enterprise, business, or organization must specifically address the degree of collaboration between “the business” and IT. To be effective and sustainable, any transformation will fundamentally alter the entire organization’s relationships with its key constituencies (internal and external) and will challenge the validity of all internal dogma.

Paradoxically, despite the fact that every enterprise transformation is the essentially the same, in practice, the journey each enterprise follows, like a snowflake, will be entirely unique.

A paradox is “a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true.”

Merriam-Webster generically defines transformation as “an act, process, or instance of change in composition or structure, a change to the outward form or appearance, or a to change in character or condition.” This elemental definition establishes the fact that “transformation” is a synonym for “change.”

To make this more applicable to business, I offer the following definition from William B. Rouse (Tennenbaum Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology):

“Enterprise transformation concerns change, not just routine change but fundamental change that substantially alters an organization’s relationships with one or more key constituencies, e.g., customers, employees, suppliers, and investors. Transformation can involve new value propositions regarding products and services, how these offerings are delivered and supported, and how the enterprise is organized to provide these offerings. Transformation can also involve old value propositions provided in fundamentally new ways.” (A Theory of Enterprise Transformation)

Why it’s important to understand the paradox?

No matter the industry or enterprise, effective and sustainable transformation (a.k.a. change) is extremely challenging to achieve. I have listened to dozens of “C-level” executives as they struggle to articulate both the “What?” and “How?” when it comes to the transformations they know their organizations must accomplish.

In 1604, Christopher Marlowe published “Doctor Faustus.” In the play, Mephistopheles tells us “to the unhappy it is a comfort to have had company in misery.” In other words: “Misery loves company.”

While understanding the “Paradox of Enterprise Transformation” does not fix the problem on its own, it does serve to provide some much-needed perspective. If you are an enlightened executive who has been asked to lead an enterprise transformation, you are in good company. Not only are your peers on the journey, but each is also finding the journey challenging and fraught with pitfalls.

During my conversations, I am inevitably asked the question: “When is the best time for us to get started?” My response: “If you are asking the question today, you should have started 12 months ago.” To suggest that “time is of the essence” is a major understatement.

The 2nd half of this decade will be clearly marked by those businesses who recognized and embraced the requirement for sustainable enterprise transformation from those who did not. I can say, without hesitation, the winners (a.k.a. the survivors) will be the businesses for whom adaptability to sustained transformation becomes embedded into its culture and perceived as a key competitive advantage.

I will also offer one approach to preparing for meaningful and sustainable change. As I outline in this white paper, starting from the beginning — defining a desired outcome, no matter how bold or provocative — will help those who chose to break free from old habits. It used to be cliché to say: “The only thing constant is change.” Moving forward, the only businesses that will thrive are those willing to embrace the fact that adaptability to constant change defines what it means to be in business.

About the author:

Tal Golan (@TalGolan) is the Chief Strategy Officer at VERB.

Top 10 Things I Learned Today About Innovation

In the words of the great philosopher Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

If you are at all like me, it is difficult to find the time to follow Steven R. Covey’s advice to “Sharpen the Saw” (Habit #7, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”).

Covey, like Bueller, reminds us that our greatest asset is the individuality that makes each of us unique. It is our responsibility to keep our engines tuned through balance and self-renewal.

A key component of my approach to balance and self-renewal is to prioritize time to consume materials recommend to me by people whom I respect. Last week a friend and mentor sent me a copy of Scott D. Anthony’s latest book, “The Little Black Book of Innovation.” If you have not read this book and you are interested in staying ahead of the “innovation curve,” I highly recommend you drop what you are doing and read this book now.

Here are the top 10 things I learned about innovation from my read of “The Little Black Book of Innovation”:

  1. “Innovation: Something different that has impact.” -Scott D. Anthony
  2. “In today’s world, innovation is not a choice. If you do not innovate you are sowing the seeds of your own destruction.” -Scott D. Anthony
  3. “Your 1st idea is wrong. The key to success is more about learning fast than it is about being fast.” -Tal Golan (synthesized from TLBBOI).
  4. “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” -Mike Tyson
  5. “Opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” -Thomas Edison
  6. “The empathy that comes from taking another’s perspectives can help you see things you might otherwise have missed.” -Scott D. Anthony
  7. “The customer rarely buys what the company thinks they are selling.” -Peter Drucker
  8. “Customers don’t want 3/4″ drills. They want 3/4″ holes.” -Ted Levitt
  9. “To do something different, you have to do something different.” -Dave Goulet
  10. “Good artists copy; Great artists steal.” -Pablo Picasso

About the author:

Tal Golan (@TalGolan) is the Chief Strategy Officer at VERB.

Why Salesforce Certification Really Matters

When I joined Salesforce in 2013, I did not know I would be required to become Salesforce Certified. I had designed, deployed and used a variety of Salesforce applications dating back to 2003, but I had not taken an exam of any kind since graduating from university. Preparing for, and ultimately taking, exams was not on my list of things I ever wanted to do again. I was excited to begin my new career, but in truth I was not excited to be tested. Not only did I learn that I needed to get certified, but also I learned I needed to complete five certifications.

What happened next truly surprised me. It turns out that a well designed certification process, like the one developed by Salesforce University, is about training people not to miss the proverbial forest because of the proverbial trees. Understanding the holistic value of the platform is much more important than being able to stand-up and administer Salesforce CRM, to deploy Service Cloud for a B2C call center or empower 1-to-1 Customer Journeys through the Marketing Cloud. Certification is about learning to identify the connections between the different products for the purpose of deriving exponentially greater value from the platform as a whole.

The boilerplate reasons for any technical certification, whether Salesforce or some other enterprise platform, are typically the same: Companies are looking for proven professionals; and companies who use certified cloud specialists see smoother deployments and better use of Salesforce. Getting certified boosts your career and enables you to contribute even more to your organization’s success. All of these are true. But what I didn’t realize was how certification was more about career development than I originally thought.

Across the pantheon of the Salesforce Universe, certifications are loosely divided into four categories: 1) Technical / Developer; 2) Administrative 3) Marketer and 4) Consultant. As a customer-facing employee, I was required to pass two administrative exams, one developer exam and three consulting exams. Salesforce’s products are industrial strength and enterprise-class. From the perspectives of functionality, features and administration, this means the products are both wide and deep, which makes for challenging examinations. After completing my second administrative exam, I realized unexpectedly that I was really taking one certification in six parts. This realization helped me, for the first time, become less narrow-minded. The certification process was not simply a hoop to jump through; rather, it was giving me a wide-angle lens through which I could see the entire Salesforce product universe.

Since completing my initial round of five required certifications, I have gone on to complete an additional four. What I know now to be absolutely true (at least when it comes to the Salesforce platform)…

It is easy to miss the Salesforce forest because of the product trees. And the whole Salesforce universe is much greater than the sum of its individual parts.

Our job is not just to help Salesforce customers find solutions to the challenges they have today, but also to help develop innovative solutions to the challenges our customers do not even know they have. From this vantage point, as a Salesforce Certified professional, I am better prepared to help our customers exceed their own expectations.

About the author:

Tal Golan (@TalGolan) is the Chief Strategy Officer at VERB.