Dale Meyerrose: Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast

This is the third video in the MB&A Executive Series which concludes the interview with Major General Dale Meyerrose on the topic of organizational change.

Below is the transcript of the video.
Josh: Alright as you’re going about those transformational efforts are there processes that you feel like are critical to getting that to work.  Are there some things that you found over time that you key in on that you just got to be able to perform this type of activity to make it all go?
Dale: Absolutely.  There are the dos and the don’ts.  Ok the easiest to talk about is the don’ts, so let me get through that and talk about the don’ts.  Some of the don’ts are the elements of consistency of the message.  When you’re going through a change making sure that everybody on the team is on the same sheet of music and understands their roles and is not working at cross purposes is probably the single biggest detriment to change occurring in organizations.  Because if you think about it there are literally thousands if not millions of small little decisions that have to be made across an organization even a very small organization and people will use values of the organization to independently make those decisions.  Such as you know their own personal work flow, such as you k now what interface relationship is with every other person at their level their subordinates or their superiors.  So when you got the values of the old organization in which people were able with a great degree of reliability and comfort make those decisions and now you’ve taken away the underpinnings on which they base all those little nuances and all those minute by minutes second by second decisions and so the element of message constancy and filling in those gaps of values have become some of the biggest mistakes.  The other big mistake I see is, is that when you’re transforming and organization you’re continually changing the baseline.  So you know how you start on day one of the change and how you are on day five, day 15 day 30 day 90 day 100 until you get a new operations normal you are on this maturity curve and the things that make you successful early in that maturity curve are not the same things that will make you successful later in that maturity curve.  So those are the things that I think interfere with transformational efforts and change efforts the most. Let me give you the do and this is a do that I developed with my first really big challenge in organizational transformation that was when we were standing up us northern command and the phrase is gotta catchy phrase to it but it’s got a lot behind it.  Think big, start small, scale fast and so the idea behind that and this is good by the way whether you’re talking about strategic problems, medium sized problems or very tactical near term problems.  What is the context around which all your activity must situate itself in?  You know is this a critical piece, is this a non-critical piece, is this a strategic piece is this a mid-level piece you know where does it fit in?  what is the big picture it fits in so that when you build whatever you’re building whenever you change whatever you’re changing it fits in the context it does not provide mixed messages or disruption to what you’re doing but in fact provides a synergistic effect.  Starting small means that you go down to the very basic element and you master that very basic element whether that is the statement of problem whether that is you know a proposed solution or whatever you get that very basic and you get it just right in smallest form and then you figure out how high or how fast or how far do I need to scale what my proposed solution is.  If my solution doesn’t scale then I go back and I pick another start small.  But I never ever lose focus on what’s the large context the overall context where does this fit in in relationship not only the organization but my teammates what my responsibilities are etc., and I have used that idea think big, start small, scale fast as a very successful way to get that explained to a lot of folks.  No matter what role you are whether you are a technician a manager a supervisor a leader or an executive in an organization.

For part one and two of this interview, check out my other blog posts for the videos and transcriptions:

Dale Meyerrose on Organizational Transformation, Part 1

Top-Down vs Bottom-Up Approach: Dale Meyerrose Interview Part 2

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Knowing your Operating Model

Don’t get off track on the road to organizational transformation

The idea of an “organizational operating model” is the central concept discussed by Dr. Jeanne Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson in their seminal work, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution. They contend that for companies to succeed, they must understand their operating model: in other words, the degree to which they must standardize business processes and/or integrate data to produce optimized business outcomes. Higher standardization of processes is typically required where efficiency and predictability are the primary factors in delivery of the organization’s products or services.  For instance, if an organization wants to present the same face to customers in diverse locations, or capitalize on efficiencies of scale in purchasing, a high degree of standardization is required. However, the higher the level of standardization, the greater the cost to the overall organization in terms of flexibility and the ability to independently innovate. I have found that often the only words that get heard with regard to the enterprise architecture are “higher level of standardization” and “higher degree of integration.”

As a manager, the information insight into your operating model should drive governance as well as your EA and planning programs. In fact, the operating model should drive every other decision you will make because it will help you understand the federation and spans of control within the organization; to the point where you can determine at what level decisions should be made regarding specific types of management inputs. Particularly for large, complex and/or federated organizations, this is one of the major sticking points that prevent the organization from getting value from their enterprise architecture, governance, and planning efforts. A large diversified conglomerate simply should not be looking to standardize and integrate at the enterprise level in the same fashion that a tightly focused technology oriented or manufacturing company should be, even at comparable sizes. The same advice follows in the public sector. Agencies with tightly focused missions like the IRS can have a much more standardized and integrated planning and governance configuration than an organization like the USDA, which includes organizations dedicated to emergency response, research and development, financial management (loans & grants), etc.

That isn’t to say that there is not a use for enterprise architecture, governance or other planning disciplines within organizations that are using a diversification model (low standardization, low integration), it is simply that the function of these efforts may be more focused on reducing core infrastructure costs, managing licensing, supporting capital planning, and ensuring a technology backbone is in place to support the business. This is in contrast to the unification model (high standardization, high integration) that may drive a ROI in a highly standardized and integrated organization, like an online retailer, where massive economies of scale and top line value may be gained by tightly controlling decisions and resources. Obviously, there are degrees to all of this and I haven’t even mentioned coordination or replication models, but my point is that there is real value in examining your organizations operating model as an input to how you build your EA, governance and planning efforts. In the end, these management disciplines developed with the intention of facilitating decision support and control need to be tailored to the environments in which they exist. An examination of the operating model will help you plan at the right level and delegate in a manner that reduces the tax that many business units perceive is being placed on them when “corporate” comes asking for data or begins to exert influence on buying decisions. Getting value from these types of programs once there is a perception that the governance or planning process is increasing response times, lowering performance and adding to the cost to execute is nearly impossible.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Living in a Post Troux Transformation World

Learn to work towards organizational transformation

One of the most anticipated highs in any transformation is when you begin to capture the value of the project. A major focus of my work has been working with large and complex organizations to develop an organizational capability to transformation. This capability is intended to enable the organization to meet an ongoing need to change the organization in order to meet rapidly evolving external and internal forces including disruptive technologies, compliance and regulatory requirements, evolving stakeholder requirements and other forces pulling on the organization. Simply put, the pace of organizational change has accelerated and successful organizations need to be able to meet the challenges presented by these changes in an efficient and effective manner in order to perform at a high level. For commercial entities there is a significant sustainable competitive advantage to be gained by developing an ability to rapidly transition the organization in order to meet new strategic objectives, leverage game changing technology, and capitalize on opportunities presented in the market.

 In order to develop this capability, it is necessary for the executives involved to develop real insight across major enterprise portfolios and their inter-relationships. For clients leveraging the Troux platform to realize their transformation capability many will choose to focus on specific areas like their application portfolio or enterprise standards in order to get as much value from possible from the development of this transformational capability. These items represent the low hanging fruit available to most organizations, allowing them to immediately leverage new insight to pull cost from the organization. This can help senior executives see the value in such programs by demonstrating an immediate return on investment. This enables the organization to begin to gain the insight it will need to manage future transformations, while gaining the buy in of senior executives who might otherwise be more hesitant to invest in longer running strategic programs devoted to the development of robust enterprise architecture, enterprise portfolio management or other organizational transformation related capabilities.

 As reports light up and opportunities are prioritized for action there is a real sense of satisfaction, because this is the moment when the investment begins to deliver on its promise. However, if the organization is serious about ensuring the maximum value from its investment and developing a true transformational capability instead of simply a project centered on slice in time cost savings they won’t stop there. In fact, well prior to the first report lighting up the organization should be looking at what life will be like AT (After Troux). The fact is that if you don’t change the habits that got you into this situation you will find yourself back in the position that prompted the initial investment. Without an ongoing ability to understand how information, technology and other assets support your business you simply cannot expect to be an agile high performing organization. Lack of insight makes governing and executing in an efficient and effective manner nearly impossible and results in an overly complex, cumbersome and costly value chain that is a drag on operational performance despite a large price tag.

 The bottom line is that you have to change the way you make decisions in order to get the most out of your transformational investment. The new information and insights provided by a focused effort around a specific portfolio, like applications, may enable IT executives to make clear decisions in specific areas of the enterprise portfolio and get to a return on investment in the near term. In the longer term, organizations need re-engineer the business processes they use for planning and decision making if they are to fully capture the value of this type of insight across the broader organization. The often significant return on investment that is realized by organizations investing in the narrower types of projects that are typically used to jumpstart a transformational program are only possible because the system that is in place within the organization wasn’t capable of maintaining an optimal balance within the portfolio. In order to prevent a recurrence of the factors that led to such great opportunities for savings the organization needs to be determined to develop new processes. These processes will enable the right information to take the right path through the organization and ensure that decision makers have the information they need to make decisions in a timely manner.

 Opportunities for ongoing improvement to the decision making process based on the availability of this new information to decision makers need to be examined. This is how the organization gets to the real ongoing value of having an organizational transformation capability rather than a cost savings project.

 Efficient, effective, and agile operations based on real insight have to become the normal mode of operations and this is only possible by explicitly focusing on changing the way decisions are made. This needs to be a multi-faceted effort that includes looking at existing stakeholders, decision making processes, analytic components and the informational inputs used to inform them and re-engineering them in light of the new capabilities Troux brings with regard to enabling decision making. A concerted effort needs to be made to define business process touch points across the organization, key informational exchanges, and the real information requirements of decision makers. This should include planning to automate informational flows from the various systems that contain critical planning information into the Troux environment in order to enable ongoing analysis that leverages high quality data that is readily available. This effort is all about developing a world class decision making environment that includes all of the information needed to support business decisions and strategic execution. One of the major factors governing the degree to which the organization will maximize its return on investment is the degree to which it is able to facilitate adoption of the new capability to make decisions. In order to ensure the broadest possible adoption, the organization needs to effectively communicate the value of the information to executives, managers and decision makers as well as embedding high value decision making processes into real workflow based governance that ensures the proper management and consumption of information across the organization.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Why do I need to “Transform” my organization?

Are strange forces at work driving change in your organization?

Why do I need to transform the organization? Wouldn’t a little tweak here or there be good enough? I like to use the term organizational transformation because I think it more clearly portrays the shift in thinking and execution required to effect real change within an organization. The pace of change within an organization and outside of it is driving the need for more comprehensive shifts in business processes, technology, and resource allocation in order to meet changing requirements; all the while maintaining efficiency and effectiveness. It is this combination of an increasing change of pace, as well as the need to be able to respond to this change more rapidly and efficiently that is driving the need for organizations to have organizational transformation as a key capability. The logic is simple.  If the pace of change is increasing, then high performing organizations should be good at managing the change that is required to execute.

As you scan your organization today you may see the results of poorly executed change. In fact, one of the biggest drivers of cost in your IT department may be the accumulation of one-off solutions needed to meet individual requirements.

One Example Driving the Need for Organizational Transformation (OT)

Over the years, one need after another has driven the piece meal assembly of policies, processes, and technology without anybody really thinking about the big picture or what the addition of that one more thing means for the organization as a whole. The proliferation of business applications in many organizations, in order to meet specific needs like customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise planning, and business unit specific applications, have created a complex mess in many organizations. The implications of this mess ripple across the organization.  This starts with the business users who struggle with overly complex procedures that require the entry of information into many different applications that all have different looks and feels, etc. In addition, these silo applications each hold some portion of the critical information necessary to running the business and making decisions. More costs have probably been accrued in attempting to stich together this information from various applications. In the end you have the complex, costly to support, and poor performing mesh that is inflexible, difficult to maintain, and is ripe with opportunities for technical, security, and other risks due to the lack of planning, execution and management.

So why do I need to have a capability to support organizational transformation? The organizational transformation capability affects every aspect of your business. I’ve provided some examples below:

Setting Strategy becomes difficult because there is a lack of clarity with regard to whether or not shifts are attainable, what the costs of the shift will be, and what the scope of the change management effort will entail.

Managing External Influences becomes reactionary, as the organization is rarely able to devise holistic responses to external challenges because there is little cross-functional understanding within the organization.

Performance Management becomes problematic because the linkage between metrics and the organizational components driving those values becomes harder to discern. If the inter-relationships between processes, technology, and value aren’t clear in the beginning, they certainly don’t get clearer over time and through change.

Human resource management becomes more complex and more expensive as the need to maintain many sets of specialized skillsets drives up the cost to maintain and support myriad applications.

Vendor management becomes more complex as you are forced to maintain more individual relationships, contracts, and service level agreements as part of a piece meal approach to change.

Technology management becomes difficult, as the interwoven and intertwined mesh of technologies all require upkeep on distinct schedules, pose their own security risks, and procurement issues.

Security management is inherently more complex as technologies proliferate, business processes lack clarity; governance is hoped for but not embedded. (See embedded governance post).

Risk Management is almost impossible as the value chain that is used to deliver end stakeholder value looks more like a bucket-o-stuff than a well thought out solution. This complex mess may have numerous risks that never become apparent until it is too late.


You need an organizational transformation capability because it allows you to change your organization while maintaining insight from the as-is through the desired to-be. It will enable you to know whether the strategy you want to implement is possible, in what time frame, and at what cost. Without this level of insight you are managing by looking in the review mirror. You are hoping that your estimates regarding the future are correct because of experiences you’ve had in the past and gut feelings based on managerial experience. I’m not downplaying this insight. I know that I have made many decisions without perfect information because they simply had to be made, I have also spent many nights worrying about the implications of things I didn’t know on the outcomes of the decisions I’ve made. For companies that exist in highly competitive environments and with the budgets shrinking in the public sector, there simply is not room anymore for the type of seat of the pants executive navigation that was once possible. Margins for error have shrunk with smaller budgets and narrower margins. Businesses that are able to understand the components of their organization that are critical to change develop a successful organizational transformation methodology. They can then integrate that process and information into their strategies and execution, and those are the organizations that are going to be tomorrow’s high performing organizations. I’d love to hear from you regarding your thoughts on managing organizational change. I will write soon on what I believe are critical areas of insight but I’d be very curious to hear what you feel is critical.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Organizational Transformation and Mentoring

Get a hand from a mentor

Developing the capability to execute on organizational transformation efforts is something I’ve spoken on at great length in my writing, speaking, and with clients. I’ve also talked of my belief that you can prepare your organization to thrive in the midst of change by focusing your organizational development efforts on the skills and abilities that apply to this capability. Mentoring is another way that organizations can help facilitate this type of professional growth for staff. One of the great drivers of value for mentoring is that it usually spans a longer period of time than traditional corporate training and educational offerings. It is often more responsive to specific needs and tailored because of the personal nature of the interaction. I have discussed in my previous post, “Mentors: Identifying & Leveraging Mentors,” the qualities which make a great mentor for you. In this post I’ll be more focused on the main forms of mentoring; essentially paid and unpaid, and the positives and negatives associated with both.

Unpaid mentoring

Unpaid mentoring is the type that most people will have had experience with over the course of their careers. If you have been fortunate enough to have a senior staff member, family friend, or other person provide you with advice and insight that is focused on improving you and helping you to succeed in achieving your goals, you’ve had a mentoring experience. The greatest part about the unpaid mentor experience is that often they are driven out of a very genuine concern for you as an individual. They can be an outgrowth from, or lead to life long relationships that greatly enhance your personal development and professional growth. On the negative side, the quality of the advice provided by unpaid mentors may very greatly because this is not something they have developed as a professional service. Availability may also be an issue because the mentoring needs to occur during times in which the mentor is free, which may or may not coincide with your timing and need for advice.

Paid Mentoring

Paid mentoring is more rare and usually reserved for more senior executives. Sometimes mentoring will be included as part of training or educational packages, as a mechanism for ensuring that participants are able to leverage what was learned in class on behalf of the organization. I am a great believer in this type of pairing in terms of getting value from training dollars. This usually leads to a greater training ROI because the mentor can help the you put your training to use in your context, but this is usually not long term enough to foster professional growth over the long term. Paid mentoring, or coaching that is of the more traditional nature, can be an enormous benefit to individuals working within an organization because they are looking specifically at how to support and enhance your professional development. They are generally more available given that they are being paid to support your requirements and you often have the opportunity to more specifically tailor the characteristics you are looking for in a paid mentor than you would in an unpaid situation. I want to focus on this last characteristic because it is important. One of the single greatest advantages to paid mentoring is the ability to choose from a much larger mentor pool and get someone who specifically meets your needs. This may mean domain expertise relevant to your field, executive experience in environments like the one you are working in or similar career arcs to what you are hoping to follow. On the negative side, all of this choice and the generally high quality of the product comes with what is usually a hefty price tag. Full time executive coaches may charge by the hour or provide packages on a quarterly or other time unit basis that roughly ties back to contact hours plus research.


As expressed in my earlier post on mentors, “Mentors: Identifying & Leveraging Mentors,” I am a real believer in mentoring as a means of professional development. Depending on where you are in the organization and how your organization approaches organizational development, you may or may not have access to paid mentoring. If not, it may still be worth looking into paid mentoring on your own as there is real power in having access to someone who is an expert in your field, has fought the battles you have yet to fight, and who may be able to provide real insight into how to maximize your potential. For all the same reasons you should always be on the lookout for unpaid mentoring opportunities. I have always been amazed at the willingness of so many people to play a real role in guiding people forward in their careers without any compensation beyond the satisfaction that comes with working to help someone else move their career forward. As someone who has personally benefited from the willingness of others to give freely of their time to move my career forward, I think everyone should be receptive to opportunities to receive mentoring. I also enjoy playing the mentoring role to others where I have had the opportunity and I try to accommodate this to the degree I’m able because I have received so much from so many over the years.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.