The New Executive Mindset: Intervention, not Transformation

What's wrong with transformation?

When looking at individual management profiles and self-describing narratives, it is hard to find anyone who is not "transforming" something. As such, the branding of oneself as a "transformationist" is losing its relevance.

Additionally, the need for innovative technology as a material driver of consumer-facing organizational revenue is now moving at bullet-train speed. The enabling internal organizational technology team's innovative delivery capability and effectiveness have too often become single points of failure for these organizations—solutions are not being delivered quickly enough, and are sometimes even obsolete before they arrive. This lack of capability to expedite innovative technology-driven solutions negatively affects competitive speed to market and an organization's ability to compete via a differentiated digital experience.

Transformation vs. intervention

CEOs, Boards and shareholders demand innovative technology solutions to maintain and increase the organization's market competitiveness in the digital experience world. The question is how to best deliver these solutions. This is where we must consider the material question of whether to transform or intervene. If we go with transformation, we will apply material time and effort to developing, building and delivering a solution. But if we embrace an interventionist approach, the organizational transformation time burden can be reduced to deliver a faster solution, thus mitigating the delivery time-to-value ratio.

Understanding the time-to-value difference

To illustrate the difference between transformation and intervention, consider this metaphor. Imagine a body's blood flow to be the metaphoric representation of organizational speed to market of innovative technology solutions. Faced with restricted blood flow, a heart surgeon—the classic transformationist—assembles a team, opens the chest and performs a number of time-intensive mechanical processes, for example grafting leg arteries to the heart. By contrast, a medical interventionist opens up clogged "legacy" blood flow using minimally invasive stents; within minutes, the patient's blood flow is enhanced, and the associated bodily functions are markedly improved within days. While the heart surgery might offer a better long-term benefit to continued blood flow, the time and effort required to operate and recover from the procedure are far longer and more costly—and therefore time-to-value is increased. The time-to-value of the interventionist is less costly than that of the heart surgeon.

The new interventionist executive mindset

An executive's traditional perspective of the organization tends to be an internal, top-down view. An executive may instead approach the organization's need to expedite innovation with an interventionist mindset: as a third-party, organizationally disassociated entity. This objective, outward-in view can uncover organization-wide "blood flow" constrictions which require "opening up" to speed up the pace of technological innovation, enabling the organization to remain competitive and successfully differentiated in its market space.

The executive interventionist looks for organizational technology innovation delivery constriction points that are problematic and not prepared for rapid internal change. Using tools at hand, an executive interventionist opens up the necessary innovation blood flow required to keep an organization competitive and differentiated. These tools include outsourcing of data creation, data analytics, legacy system ongoing support, new solution delivery, cloud enablement, evolving security technology—and the list goes on. The interventionist opens up innovative constrictions through third-party solutions that can "bypass" the organization's delivery capability, allowing the organization to keep up with today's bullet-train, technology-driven pace of change.

Traditional outsourcing vs. skill set outsourcing

The traditional view of outsourcing represents "organizational entity" outsourcing, as opposed to "skill-based" outsourcing. Organizational entity outsourcing has often been proven to have a suboptimal outcome, as it simply moves a problematic entity from one organizational legacy construct to another outsourced organization with an equal amount of legacy issues. In essence, this outsourcing model simply pushes the problem from one place to another, resulting in no meaningful value increase.

By contrast, skill-based outsourcing reflects functional outsourcing, as compared to organizational entity outsourcing. An executive interventionist may outsource discrete functions, such as analytical database creation and associated data mining, differentiated digital experience software creation, legacy system data extracts, cloud enablement, biometric security software or any other high value-add functionality. The organization gets all the benefits of working with a lean, fast specialist provider without having to go through the exercise of effecting organizational transformation.

When an interventionist executive sees creation of big data to be a material technology delivery "blood flow" constriction, it is bypassed through outsourcing. When there is a constriction in the creation of software that generates a differentiated digital experience, it is outsourced. This method of outsourcing is precisely targeted to bypass a critical organizational innovative technology blockage, and its successful results can be clearly and easily observed and assessed.

To use another metaphor, traditional outsourcing represents an organizational "shotgun blast," while the executive interventionist uses more of a "sniper rifle" approach. Specific areas of organizational innovation are precisely addressed through bypassing the internal legacy-burdened function to a third party, resulting in measurably rapid, function-based innovation enablement. In this way, the traditional pain and suffering associated with legacy organizational change can be mitigated. Through the application of a few targeted strategic outsourcing providers, an organization can address the need for rapid technology-enabling solutions for the enterprise in months rather than years.


Transformation is losing its relevance in the emerging world of "differentiated digitalized everything." The transformation mindset of internal innovative development simply is no longer able to keep pace with the speed of technology innovation and delivery required in the consumer-facing marketplace.

The executive interventionist opens up and sustains organizational technology innovative blood flow through precisely targeted third-party interventions. These solutions bypass difficult and time-burdened internal organizational blockages, decreasing the time-to-value of innovation. Hence the emergence of the interventionist who enables rapid organizational change at a pace which supports the increasingly expedited delivery of differentiated innovative technology so critical in today's market.