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Logbook entry #4 – Why we (must) rethink transformation consulting

The field of digital transformation will be the key issue for the survival of many companies in the coming years. We know by now that disruption is no fairy tale and we know the changed market conditions of platform economies. In the future, it will be more and more important to accelerate the use of the disruptive possibilities of innovative technologies for the development of new business models. 

It will be a matter of continuously institutionalizing agile business model innovation and creating corporate forms that can quickly translate these disruptive possibilities of new technologies into business models, operationalize them and scale them. Those who manage to do this will stay. Others will disappear. Maybe, if you are lucky, you will find a niche somewhere. The fact is that big changes are coming and all this has just begun.

These forms of enterprise are formed from an architecture of new capabilities that companies have to organize, procure, develop. We have identified these capabilities and the corresponding archetypes of digital business models and described them in our d.quarks framework. This means that we know the basic architecture of these sustainable companies. The realization of these enterprise forms and thus the implementation of this basic architecture is becoming increasingly important for survival.

In the past years, we have provided consulting services in the classical manner for the implementation of this architecture with our d.quarks framework. The business model of classic consulting scales with people who implement these topics in projects for customers. More projects, means more people, means more business. The knowledge of the consultants is the differentiating factor in this process and it is ultimately a matter of accommodating as many people in projects as possible for as long as possible and making the customers dependent on the consulting services. As a rule, the knowledge remains with the consultant. As a consequence, the customer is not empowered and the company is not transformed in this way. This poses a bigger problem when looking into the future. If companies do not change themselves through transformation, how will they survive in a changed digital future?

More and more companies have recognized this and are trying to empower themselves. In doing so, they are looking for offerings that enable them to transform themselves. In this way, they no longer have to depend so heavily on external consulting. The large corporations have set up in-house consultancies to address this problem. But in an increasingly accelerated world, the effectiveness of this approach is also too slow. 

New transformational knowledge to empower companies must be brought into them much more quickly, scalably and cost-effectively. Especially for small, medium-sized, family-run companies, this is a greater challenge, because they cannot employ consultants with high daily rates in the long run. 

If we in Germany and Europe still want to keep up with the global race of business model innovation with the USA and China, then we have to bring new transformational knowledge to enable companies faster and more effectively into these companies. We need something that fulfills this translation service of bringing transformational knowledge into companies for real empowerment. But how is that going to work?

In the beginning there was an idea based on sound knowledge. We recognised that transformations follow certain patterns. The point is to recognize these patterns and to be able to apply them. If you can do this, then it is possible to control transformations effectively. With the publication of “d.quarks – the path to digital business”, we had already presented the proven patterns according to which digital transformations run to the public. In order to be able to apply these patterns, the user must be provided with curated knowledge on his/her transformation path, selectively and in easily consumable small doses, so that he/she is enabled to go through the steps of the transformation path by him/herself. It is as simple as that. 

If transformation follows repeatable patterns, then it is possible to develop tools that make these patterns faster and more scalable through (partial) automation. If you do this, it would be possible to enable and guide many companies through their transformation much faster, much better and much more cost effective. This could save many companies from bankruptcy. Especially the already mentioned many medium-sized and family-owned companies, which cannot afford the long-term dependence on expensive consultants.

In the beginning we started to find suitable partners for the implementation of our business idea. I think there was just about everything, from large corporations, small and large, young hip and established consultancies, to medium-sized family businesses. The result was that with all these companies it is possible to realize such an idea half-heartedly at most. Either one prefers not to tackle it at all, because it cannibalizes one’s core business, or one lacks the imagination, passion and also the pioneering spirit to move out of one’s comfort zone. Everything is still going well, why should we do that?

By the way, you will also meet companies that only want to take advantage of you. If you don’t share the sense and passion for this vision, if you don’t meet with the same attitude, then it’s better not to compromise. That is what we thought. Decisions suddenly become very clear and almost logical if you are aware of your attitude. Our decision was clear: we have to do it in our own company.

Our promise to all those companies out there was born: 

Through integrated offline and online platform services, we empower leaders and employees to master their digital transformation themselves.

The effectiveness of this innovation should be similar to that of booking holidays. In the past, we used to go to the travel agency, make appointments, spend quite a lot of time talking to a consultant who explained our holiday options from the standard catalogue, more or less tailored to our needs, made a decision with us and then made the booking for us. 

Today, a large part of this process is automated, through Booking.com, Expedia, HRS, Fluege.de, Airbnb and other holiday portals that exist. This is possible because the booking follows certain patterns, so these parts of the process can be automated. I only need the real person in those places where I really need the expertise of a real person. A local guide for a jungle safari or the pilot for the flight through the Grand Canyon. That’s exactly how it should be with transformation management. Just imagine: your digital transformation is as easy as booking your next vacation trip.

We realized: it works! I can guide you through your transformation journey in a structured way and always give you exactly the curated knowledge you need to enable you to take the next step of your transformation. Like a navigation system for your transformation path. Within a second I can distribute new knowledge globally to everyone and make it accessible. I can offer focused help from people where real people are needed. People from a community who have already solved the problem you are having. People who help you to train your employees in the right places or help you to get the right talents. Or people who help you with their expertise on the specific problem you are facing. All of this at a fraction of the cost that classic consultants charge for such a task today. 

This is not really interesting because it is basically possible, but because it solves the time-critical problem we have right now: to scale transformational knowledge into the world at an accelerated pace in order to create a sustainable innovation society in Germany and Europe. This is what motivates us and why we have to rethink transformation consulting.

Michael once said in another context a few years ago that we are not really entrepreneurial types. That is true, in a certain way. We are not the type of people who want to make one exit after the other. We saw ourselves as part of a solution to a very relevant problem. It has come about through our lives. Entrepreneurship is just the context we have chosen to be that solution. A context in which we can make our contribution to a world we want to live in.

#Carsten

Logbook entry #4, Monday February 3rd

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