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Your Digital Transformation won’t Be Executed in a Presentation

Discovering the right way to lead your Digital Transformation

Note: If you prefer to watch a video, we recommend you checkout the following clip from Better off Ted when they present Jabberwocky.

In today’s business landscape many people throw around buzzwords to sell you a new plan, product or the idea that the person talking is intelligent. Digital Transformation, Business Intelligence (BI) and Artificial Intelligence are gaining clout and search rankings. If you are interested in taking your business to the next level you should turn to a Solution Provider (over a VAR). Read on to avoid the pitfalls of working with someone who says what to do, over working with a firm that knows how to do it. 

Avoid the Common Purchasing Pitfall 

Have you ever met with a consultant with a flashy, streamlined PowerPoint presentation that promised you the moon and the stars and then as soon as you signed on the dotted line, what they promised seemed to be as distant as the next lunar planet? Don’t be embarrassed; Me too. 

You don’t have to blame yourself for making a misled decision, trusting the person who knew how to “talk the talk”. We were ALL poorly taught in university that a pretty presentation was all it took to succeed – here in the business world, it is only getting your foot in the door, not the final grade. 

Presentation Fails

Here is why fancy presentations are not creating value for you or your business: 

  • Presentations say what could and should be done (i.e. they “talk the talk”) 
  • Focuses on “What” over “How” forgetting practicality 
  • They take no accountability in delivering what they say could and should be done
  • Time is spent making the presentation “pretty” instead of another value-added activity like solving the actual problem or testing a solution to “fail forward and fast” i.e. you should pay for content not the container. 
  • When the proposed plan is considered as a deliverable, it creates no real tangible value 

An Example: The Approach of the Car Mechanic 

Uncovering the nonsense of the Strategic Consultant 

If you have a car, then you know that your car goes in for your annual tire change, oil change, alignment and checkup. Likely, you would bring your car to either a dealership or a trusted garage. You speak with mechanic (or the colleague of the mechanic), who is an expert, and tells you what he will do with an estimated cost. When you return to pick up the car, the garage is responsible for delivering on their plan. If there is a problem, or things don’t go as planned, the expectation would be that the mechanic would call proactively and propose a new solution with a budget. 

Here, the plan and work is done by the same company, or even person, which means they can be dynamic in their approach, work on the problem instead of wasting time assuming what the problem is or making an action plan that they have no skills to have. 

Now, imagine going to the mechanic and they tell you to come back once you have an estimate from the Mechanical Strategist. So you go to this other business and since they have operating expenses, you obviously have to pay for their advice. They don’t have any field experience so they give you a handout (another form of a presentation) about what could be wrong and how much fixing what could be wrong cost. If the assumption of the strategist is wrong when you go back to the mechanic, you end up with nothing going in circles, never solving the problem and wasting a lot of your own resources. Why waste your time, money and mental capacity on talking about a plan that clearly cannot be delivered by the person you are talking to? 

It is vital in this day in age since so many people say they are “solution-oriented” but in the end, you need to look at what the end result will be and the value derived from that because the result (value) will only be as good as the implementation (i.e. when the plan is in action). 

So, When Should Presentations be Used? 

I would be remiss if I did not include a disclaimer that I do not hate the PowerPoint brand or presentations in general. I love them as a tool and I have seen them mature from a clunky to elegant product. 

My team is encouraged to use presentations in order to help people get to know our brand or when onboarding each of our key team members though Big Bang University (our two week intensive onboarding process). My marketing team loves a good sales deck, and they love to make things easily digestible with graphics. But let me tell you there is not one animation or transition to be found. Their decks serve as a digest, reminder and visual support – they know that the leading act is the talented people which we employ. 

Presentations are for visual support, reference and even as a reminder but they are NOT the solution. So the next time someone shows you a flashy presentation, ask yourself if they are a mechanic or just throwing out some strategy your way. 

Closing Thoughts

Change, especially a digital transformation for your business processes, will not be derived from a presentation – it takes “sweat-equity” (i.e. actually diving in and doing the work) to truly deliver change for your business lead by someone with the knowhow to get to the finish line. Look for advice from the person or company who knows what they are talking about and ensure they are able to impose their accountability so they can actually deliver what they promise. Bottom line, you don’t have time to waste. Look for a provider that is not avoiding commitment and set their accountability as a criteria of success!

Gabriel Tupula

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