Monthly Archives: June 2011


A pilgrim on a motorcycle

I have just spent a week driving my motorcycle through the beautiful byways of Burgundy; hiking up small mountains in the mid-day sun and discovering hitherto unknown facts about myself, mankind and ancient history.  And while many people may not see this as an appealing way to pass the time; one person’s idea of a holiday can be very different from another.

2016-11-17T08:24:55+00:000 Comments

Why do we make things so complex?

I was talking with an experienced SAP implementation manager the other day and he told me that the simpler we make our business processes, the more complex the technology becomes to support them.  This made no sense to me at first but after some reflection it became clearer.

The more we wish to standardize and simplify our business processes, the more we need to automate what goes on behind the scenes.  It’s a bit like taking cash out of the wall. Today we can do it from any bank’s dispenser in almost any country we like.  For us it couldn’t be simpler and yet, behind the scenes a whole raft of highly complex processes is taking place.  There are even powerful IT behavior analytics systems constantly running in the background simulating our normal bank card usage; sometimes this result in us receiving strange, intrusive phone calls verifying where we are and if everything is OK. I had this once while on a motorbike holiday in Spain. Apparently my card was being used 1000’s of kilometers away by a gambling syndicate and the stakes were getting higher by the minute!

And while scientists at CERN are trying to verify Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity, one of his directives remains true: ‘make everything as simple as possible but not simpler’.

I find that in so many aspects in life, there is beauty to be found in complexity but only when it has been already made as simple as humanly possible, anything else is just a mess.

So when it comes to trying to make our existing business processes more efficient (simpler); configuring our ERP systems to support the new simplified processes may be tough but in my eyes, getting the organization committed to working in the new way and to remain so, is much, much tougher. But then again I would say that, wouldn’t I? Because no one likes to think that their job is less complex than someone else’s, do they? 

Have a good week


2011-06-21T00:50:31+00:000 Comments

Why change managers make the best child minders

Imagine you are happily married, your children have grown up and left home and you are enjoying a quiet Sunday together with your partner when the phone rings and Sally, a family acquaintance, asks if you can look after Jack, her three year old son for a couple of days, while she goes up north to visit her mother in hospital.

A change manager in this situation has little difficulty, beyond the inconvenience of having one’s life interrupted.  He makes a quick activity/time chart spread over 48 hours (with an additional 12 hour grey zone, for contingencies).  He divides the chart into awake and asleep times, based upon an internet article on ‘normal sleeping habits for three year olds’. He breaks the chart down again into feeding times and washing times and divides the remainder into convenient blocks of 12 minute and 45 minute intervals.  The 12 minute chunks are for short term entertainment or diversion activities.  The 45 minute slots are for longer periods such as video’s and children’s TV, walks with the push chair (weather permitting), visits to the park and aimless car journeys etc. 

After several brainstorming sessions with his wife, games, toys and activities are thought up that fit into either of the two time slots.  These are written onto cards and arranged on the time intervals on the chart.  Short intermediary time slots, are left open for transitional periods between one activity to another.  Ideas such as baking a cake, that require very specific components and/or additional preparation are marked with a star, to be sure they are prepared upfront and not over-looked.

The secret to the change manager’s natural skills in child minding is not their emotional intelligence but their almost super-natural ability to anticipate ‘everything’ including the need for having first aid kits on hand in case of minor accidents and grazes etc.  However, our change manager also requires a communication strategy towards the various stakeholders: Sally, her Mum in hospital, the people not chosen to look after Jack but think they should have been, Jack himself, his partner (especially needed for light relief at high stress points), friends, relatives and all those with whom they had made other plans that now need to be cancelled.

Once the communication strategy is formed (the how and when and which media channels the communication will take shape in: face to face, phone, video, photography, e-mails, get well cards, hugs etc.), A communication plan is needed.  This will be prepared along with some key communications, just in case on the ground activity or exhaustion levels prohibit it later on.  “Dear Sally, Jack is having a lovely time, he’s just finished baking you a cake, ready for when you come home…”.  “Dear Sally, please don’t worry, Jack’s having a great time… yes he did fall in the fish pond but the fish are fine and he’s breathing normally again”. 

So apart from the logistics and the strategic planning (for which one obviously needs a project manager, the CM’s wife) all the other components are ready and in place.  “No worries Sally, we’d simply love to have Jack.  No it wouldn’t be any trouble at all, when are you bringing him over? …  This afternoon?  OK no worries, I think we have everything covered, hang on a minute, my wife is trying to say something – I tell you what I will hand her the phone, see you, bye!”

Have a nice week,


2011-06-14T00:39:55+00:000 Comments