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Author's profile photo Gia-Thi Nguyen

To transform, or not to transform — that is NOT THE QUESTION.

“The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.“

Antony Jay


Luckily, when it comes to transformations while the question whether it is

  • a) relevant,
  • b) important
  • c) omnipresent… it does not take lots of creativity to agree to
  • d) all of the above.


But understanding and agreement still do not commence action per se.

So whereas lots of literature and zeitgeist

  • seem to ask Why do transformations fail?”   or 
  • recommend to have a clear “Why do you do what you do?”,

I would love to focus on a different set of questions for today:

How to start?

How to have a successful change activity – whether process excellence of business transformation?

How to remain successful?

And of course, the answers will fall into the thematic buckets of …

  • Management buy-in
  • stakeholder alignment
  • lowering resistance to change
  • change management
  • having the right mindset,
  • formulating a clear strategy
  • drafting an even clearer execution plan (of tasks, not people, I presume)
  • being process-centric…
  • human-centric
  • outside-in
  • inside-out
  • middle-out
  • clear communication
  • upskilling
  • rightskilling
  • 2 pizza size teams
  • agile
  • right technology (but human-centric, see above)
  • data-driven (duh!)
  • digital mindset (double duh!)
  • did I mention human-centric?
  • I could go on forever but I won’t…

Just to hear at the Kick off meeting, “Change is the only constant in life – you got half the resources, double the scope, gotta run, bye bye!”

However, if change is the only constant in life (ignoring c = speed of light), why are we so bad it, still?

After all, does that mean that we are also very bad at life?

I would insist that this is not the case.

Join me on this journey to find better questions, so that we might find better answers together.

Oh, and regarding the 1st question regarding the “How” to get started, we just did. 

Next time, let’s assess some more questions!


Congratulations on your start – the hardest part is done!

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      Author's profile photo Andreas Breitrueck
      Andreas Breitrueck

      I love your thoughts.


      how about adding this :

      if there is some sort of similarity between transformation and evolution - we could argue


      no question why, evolve or die (quoting from a cool song)

      Author's profile photo Gia-Thi Nguyen
      Gia-Thi Nguyen
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks Andreas Breitrueck ! Let's go philosophical and scientific just for fun!

      To warm up: to the novice, language seems arbitrary and illogical. The opposite regarding math - it is fair, objective and clear.

      Yet when you go deeper, you will find "some universal code of humanity" in language and all makes sense, while math goes Willie Wonka! Here some examples: Why is the English "Y" often a German "G"? Why does an English "pp" become a German "ff"? Why is the animal called cow while the meat is called beef (pig/pork, sheep/lamb, chicken/poultry etc.)?

      On the math side, google "The Collatz Conjecture" and you know what I mean.

      Hope you are warmed up!

      Let's go. First things first - I want to know the song! Google led me to some strange one 🙂

      1. Survival is not mandatory.
      2. So it is ok to neither transform nor evolve.
      3. Whether similar or not, is (from philosophical argument's point of view) also irrelevant.
      4. The taxonomy/dichotomy is not defined or widely accepted. If I said Horses are mammals, mammals are vertebrates and so on, you would probably agree. If I said blue is a part of large, large is a part of striped, and striped is a part of smooth, then we would have another argument.

      Transformation and evolution, transformation within evolution, evolution in transformation...

      Remember, all what is important in life is saltwater (tears, sweat, ocean)

      Water is wet. Stays a fact regardless of agreeing or not.

      Thus, transformation and evolution are real, the boundaries and definition are not, but it happens.

      Why? Don't know.

      How? Interesting.

      How to? That's my game - bring it on! And so happy to do it with fellas like you and Manuel Meindl (coming to your feedback in a second!)

      Author's profile photo Manuel Meindl
      Manuel Meindl

      Hi Thi,

      cool stuff. To reply to your question:

      "However, if change is the only constant in life (ignoring c = speed of light), why are we so bad it, still?"

      with my humble and subjective view:

      1. We need to be lazy to survive

      We humans are comfortable, and this is good...for a moment. If we did not get used to life, we would be overwhelmed with experiences, our senses would explore and our nerves and brain would play tabula rasa.

      Example: I would not be able ro write this response on my screen here if my nerves weren't used to the stimulus of my clothes, the chair, the music I listen aside, the light of the screen and the room, the air, the breathing, my chewing gum. Our brain is comfortable with all of this to allow us to think properly and focus on the moment.


      2. Being lazy is fun

      It is truly awesome that we as humans respond external stimulus with adaptation and focus. Otherwise our brains would just go crazy. And we like the adaptation. We can focus, it saves computation energy of our brains and body. So we get used to getting used.

      Coming back to my example: I am not only used to the air that I breath and the clothes on my body, but also the wifi that works properly.. or the headphones which I wanted to get changed a year ago. But hey, they still work okay-ish - I have more important stuff to focus on like this response here.


      3. And there is the dilemma

      Over time we accept more and more, to deal with least resistance while being human. In social media some memes of it were called "first world problems". Eventually, those are aspects of life we got used to and complain about, even when just a small change occurs. Also, we get used to negative patterns of life, which stand in the way of change.

      The example again:
      Aside the cloths, screen, music... also aside the wifi and the headphones I got used to not Gmail while working at Signavio. When Outlook was introduced at SAP I catched myself complaining about a minor change in habit. A simple mailing tool made me complain, where probably both Gmail and Outlook are best in class products.

     , where is the response to your question?

      As cheesy as it sounds in romantic movies "moments are short". It is great to live in the moment and benefit from "lazy nerves" getting used to external stimulus. But at the same time it makes it hard to constantly transform. 

      Author's profile photo Gia-Thi Nguyen
      Gia-Thi Nguyen
      Blog Post Author

      I love it. I don't know the scientific answer, yet love the feedback you gave.

      Spoiling a future episode of Tea with Thi, I oversimplify as following.

      The answer is somewhere along the instant gratification vs delayed satisfaction. I can binge 6 to 8 episodes of Lord of The Rings: The Rings of Power, but not watch one movie like The Return of the Ring (theatrical version is sufficient...)

      Or even simpler - because of the lack of time machines.

      We can live in the moment while ignoring the future. We can live in some weird expected future while ignoring the present. We can ponder about the past and have learned nothing of it in the moment to create a better future. We are phasing out of reality.

      So yes, we are bad at change, because we have not become friends with reality, yet. One of my favorite TED Talks by Emily Levine (RIP), here.


      The "linguistic/semantic" answer "Why are we so bad at it" goes along these bullets by the way:

      • how do we define bad? If it is empirically, it isn't that bad
      • who defines bad? you are always your toughest coach (think self-assessing your own foreign language skills)
      • where does "bad" live, if you can change it anyhow? Just because I wrote "wierd" wrong once, doesn't mean I will write it wrong all my life


      The biological / neuroscience answer goes along the SCARF (another future episodes) Model and our Reptilian Brain (--> spoil the content here)

      And unfortunately, there is also a historian's sociological answer, google Jedwabne and towards the question, "Why did it happen?" there were hundreds of papers, articles, studies... the most famous compelling one had only 3 words in it, which were:


      So here you have it - a rhetorical question answered from many different points of views! We got a long way ahead of us, ... und das ist auch gut so!