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Straightening the Road

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As an avid outdoorsman, I’ve spent much of my free time exploring and enjoying the beautiful land and wildlife that central Texas has to offer. On most weekends, you’ll find me loading up my truck and heading out in search of the next off-road adventure with family and friends.

At least once on any giving outing, one of our group members will inevitably get lost or separated from the rest of us attempting to navigate the narrow and winding paths on some type of 4×4 vehicle. Throw a rapidly setting sun and unfamiliar territory into the equation, and you’ve got a recipe for an all-night tour of the countryside. Fortunately, our wandering group members always seem to find their way back and are met with a collective sigh of relief (along with a healthy dose of ridicule and finger pointing).

I’ll regretfully admit that I’ve been in the same situation myself.  On a particular trip about two years ago, I hopped in my truck to begin making my way back to our camp after a ride out to get some firewood. Within minutes of bouncing my way down the rocky terrain in front of me, I realized that many of the trails looked the same and that the low light conditions were going to make it even more difficult to navigate my way back. To make matters worse, my limited cell phone service prevented me from finishing a call with a friend, instructing me on where I should meet him and the description of how to get there. Without the necessary information and a good plan, I picked a trail and put the pedal down. To say it was a long night would be an understatement.

As you can imagine, it was a stressful evening filled with a variety of questions such as “where am I right now?” “how did I get so lost?” “am I on the right track?” “where is everyone else in relation to me?” and of course, “Why isn’t there a simple and easy way to get to my destination?”
Fast forward to a month ago. I’m sitting in a conference room with a potential customer, joined by one of our senior consultants discussing their interest in diving head-first into a full-blown enterprise modeling and business transformation program, complete with RPA and several other advanced technology solutions. My colleague applauded the client’s eagerness to get started and responded simply by saying “Let’s straighten the path before we pave the road.”

Those words brought me back to that night two years ago and helped me realize that the journey to digital and business transformation was much like my own experience. So many companies begin planning for (or starting) their efforts without having the full picture of their organization, the current processes, systems, and strategies that drive it, where they want to be, and how it impacts others within the company.

My colleague continued his analogy by explaining that the “straightening” part had to do with understanding the current state of their org structure and their key processes, followed by an exercise to prioritize and improve these processes and align them with the appropriate people and groups. Only then, he explained, would we begin to align this with company strategy, automate, and “pave the road” into a highway leading directly to their transformation goals.

Whatever your process, organizational performance, or digital transformation initiatives are, there is one universal takeaway. The journey to a more efficient, effective, and successful organization is a set of endlessly curving dirt roads. Focus on making data driven decisions to “straighten” that road and “pave” it into a superhighway leading your organization to industry leadership.

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