Digital Transformation & Dieting, Part 2


More companies die from over-eating than from starvation – Dave Packard

How do we blunt the just one more compulsion that afflicts too many organizations?

The consequences are serious: obese, lumbering strategies with no hope of success; alienated team members, and organizations approaching diabetic coma.

In Digital Transformation, slimming down the innovation pipeline is often Job One.  Instead of the critical few innovations, too often we find our partners the ‘critical few hundred’. Why do otherwise smart and capable leaders do this?

Last time I mentioned the buffering effect. I don’t know what’s going on, so I’m hedging my bets by pressing more buttons.

A second cause is the following unfortunate mental model: “If I jam the pipeline full of stuff, more will come out the other end! Things will flow!”


This contravenes the Law of Utilization, whereby cycle times explode at excessive utilization rates. As so, the pipeline turns to cement. Nothing flows.

At which point, unsophisticated leaders may resort to exhortation, and sometimes to coercive methods. This is akin to asking your team members to jump out the window, and then, after they crash to the ground, exhorting them to ‘Next time, flap your arms faster.’

When it comes to Digital Transformation, less is more. Figure out, with your team, where the shoe pinches. Focus there – and start with a few activities. Don’t overload your team. Leave plenty of ‘white space’ for the inevitable hassles and disasters. As a rule, innovation resources should be loaded to no more than 80%. As noted above, piling the work on will turn the innovation pipeline to cement.

The most important word in Digital Transformation is no. If an idea is exceptionally good, we should put it in the starting gate, with the understanding that it’ll go into production once there’s an open space.

Our Digital Transformation Lighthouse is the clearing house for such discussions. And the enablers are visual tools that make the current condition obvious to all. Thereby, we begin to ‘see, know, and act’ together.

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