Polarity, the idea of opposites, turns thoughts and possibilities around like a pendulum always moving from one extreme to the other. That is until the thought runs out of energy or momentum and stops. It rests until some force displaces it.
Recently, a client asked for help explaining the difference between planning for a transition and planning a transformation. Since Transformation seems to be one of the buzz words of the moment, I began to wonder what made the two thinking processes different, and what did they really mean. My polarity thinking friend suggested that transitions plan for certainty, or near certainty and transformation plan for uncertainty. I disagreed.
I think of a transition as the pause between takes, what happens between two clearly defined states. It’s when we assess, evaluate or figure out our position, how close or far. Transformation, that’s the feeling we have on arrival, we made it so now what.
In other words, if the client has a clear objective as in to take a specific distant hill, then transition plans incorporate the certainty that elevations will be changing on route and insures the team’s prepared for the journey. When it knows what changes to expect along the way, then it’s transition ready. Transformation focuses on arrival, different conditions and challenges it doesn’t know, but can imagine arrival makes possible. After all, isn’t that why the objective was to take the hill? Wasn’t it about the advantage that being on top offers?
Put another way, imagine what you want to do is known, like traveling to another location. Transitions focus on the journey, how long will it take, buying tickets or planning the route. Transformation planning asks how the change in location affects your current activities. Transitions are more whole body time shifts, where as transformation puts your head in the future while the rest of your physical body remains grounded in the present.
November’s topic for the monthly strategy discussion focused on Transformation Readiness. Before I managed to summarize the conversation and post notes,news about the sale of Mariano’s to Kroger caught my eye. and then I also spotted an interview with CEO, Bob Mariano on the Chicago Booth website.
If you are not familiar with Chicago, then let me explain that Mariano’s was a new entry into the grocery store business. By coincident, just as they had opened a few stores one of Chicago’s main competitors –Safeway decided to close all of its Dominick’s stores. This meant Mariano’s acquired 10 of the closed stores and their debt fueled expansion took off. That’s when Kroger came calling.
Since I had already been thinking about transformation questions , as in how do you get transformation ready, I thought it worth sharing these responses. Take a peek, and let me know what you think, are the example transitions or evidence of transformation readiness?
Scenario A: I think that Mariano’s namesake, CEO and founder, Bob nailed it when he said:
“At Mariano’s, we tried to push further. We continue to push. What I mean by push is to expose the customer to different and unique things and allow them the opportunity to tell you, ‘No, I don’t like that,’ or ‘Yes, I like that.’”
Scenario B: Or maybe you prefer the spin by CEO of Shazam when asked about the increasing gap between growth in the amount of information and its utilization. ” …How do you improve data intelligence?”
“That’s definitely the case [that there is a data knowledge gap] and for years we have been talking about data warehousing, or capturing that data, but turning information into data intelligence is a new journey for many companies…”
Or, how about the Gambling industry insiders view who characterizes difference between digitizing or converting your industry to the reality post conversion this way:
Advancements in technology has brought about a rapid digitization of gambling and almost every other industry. Some have managed to exploit these developments more than others and I think that the gambling industry is at the forefront of how well technology can be applied to a domain.
As an industry we must be open to change and pro-actively look at how we can exploit such technologies to provide a better and more entertaining experience to our customers. For example, the progress in Touch ID has enabled us to allow LeoVegas iPhone app customers to log in to the casino using only their fingerprint.
Are you wondering why distinguishing between transitions and transformations matter? Or, even better, how your business can take greater advantage of the widespread availability, access and flexibility that a fully digitized world creates?
Great, now you are thinking strategically.