The #1 Mistake Most Companies Make In Their Digital Transformation
by Julias Shaw, on Jun 25, 2020 8:03:00 AM
Today I want to talk to you about a really important lesson I learned from buying a suit that also taught me one of the number one mistakes most companies make in their digital transformation.
My name is Julias Shaw, and I'm the Chief Technology Officer at LeanDog. I've been practicing and coaching agile and lean processes since 1999 when I introduced Extreme Programming to the startup I was working in.
When I was in my 20s I had just started getting some success. My consulting work was getting popular, and I decided I was going to treat myself to a nice suit.
Now it's good to know that I grew up in backwoods Oregon. I didn't know anything about suits. Growing up, my experience with suits was limited to seeing James Bond wear one in the movies. So I somehow got it stuck in my head that Armani was the epitome of suits, and they're certainly very nice suits. I didn't know anything about nicer suits at that time. I hadn't even heard of brands like Brioni or anything like that.
In any case, I decided to go to the Nordstrom in San Francisco. And I was going to get myself an Armani suit. I looked around at the suits they had and the people at Nordstrom were incredibly nice and helpful. They helped me understand my options and finally I decided on a charcoal gray Armani suit, that was just over $2,500, which was a huge amount of money to me at the time.
I got it fitted by the in-store tailor. They took my measurements and made adjustments like making sure the sleeves are the right length, and adjusting the shoulders and all of those little things that happen when you're buying an expensive suit. Then a week or so later, I came back to pick up my new suit, and I felt like a million dollars in that suit. It gave me a lot of confidence and frankly, it was the best suit I could imagine at the time.
I wore that suit a lot and I got some really nice compliments on it, but a couple of years later, I was working in Asia and I was having dinner with a colleague in Hong Kong and they told me that the next day they were going to go across the bay and get a tailored suit made from scratch.
I was like, wow, a tailored suit... that's really cool! That must be really expensive. It turned out that this suit was only going to be about $150. It was literally less than 10% the price of the Armani that I was telling you about just a minute ago.
So of course, I decided to go with this guy, meet his tailor, and get a custom suit made. It was a really interesting experience because when I went to meet the tailor, he asked me a lot of questions. It wasn't just about measuring me so the suit would fit.
He asked me if I expect to be gaining or losing weight.
He asked me where I would be wearing this suit. Would I be in an air conditioned office all the time? Or would I be outside in it a lot?
He asked me where I carry my wallet.
He asked me how active would I be in the suit? Would I be sitting in a desk most of the time or would I be moving around on a stage a lot while giving presentations.
We looked at different fabrics and buttons and stitching styles to see what I liked.
He asked me about my co-workers and clients and bosses and what they wore.
All in all I spent four or five hours talking to the tailor with only a small bit of that time spent on measuring it to fit.
After all of that, he told me to come back in a few days, so we could do the first fitting. When I came back, he had me try on the suit and move around in a bunch of different ways and he asked me how I felt and then occasionally he would correct me when I said, "it felt fine" while doing a certain movement, but he could see with this experience eye that the suit was pulling it away, that just wasn't ideal.
Then he had me come back a few more days after that to pick up my suit and make sure everything fit perfectly. So I came back, after this long process, and I tried on the suit, and it felt amazing! I had no idea, really, how poorly that expensive Armani suit that I had bought fit me. In this suit I could move my arms around freely and it was like I wasn't wearing a suit at all. It was incredibly comfortable and it didn't bind me in any way. It moved with my body perfectly. Over the years that I had that suit, I found that it was an absolute joy to wear. And it made me look and feel much better than that expensive Armani suit ever had.
And that was when I really learned. that for some things, how well it fits is a matter of the tailoring. It's not the brand, or the cost, or even the quality of the materials, but it's the tailoring to fit exactly you and what you do. There's a big difference between buying a suit and getting a few little adjustments made and having one created from scratch specifically for you and your needs.
The same thing is true about agile transformations. Sure, you could use an off the rack process like Scrum, or SAFe, or Extreme Programming, but it will likely be more expensive than it needs to be and it probably won't fit you that well. You may even be using one of these processes right now without realizing how poorly it fits you and how good it would be to have something tailored specifically for you and all the things that you do.
That's why LeanDog starts every transformation with obeya. Obeya means big visual room. LeanDog's obeya is a workshop where we discover what will work best for your organization and we capture that knowledge in a big visual room. That big visual room will be an invaluable asset as your transformation progresses.
We explore how your organization works and we ask a lot of questions.
Some of these are the obvious questions, but we also ask the questions that you never would have imagined are important. And invariably, some of the questions we ask are ones we didn't even imagine until we began diving into the details of your organization, and what exactly you do. And we do this all in a group workshop so that all the parts of your organization can contribute, and everyone can understand what's important about your transformation, and exactly what you should do next.
So if you're considering an agile transformation, or if you're in the middle of a transformation that isn't fitting you perfectly, reach out to us so we can help.