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Building a continuous transformation culture will be key to survival!

We are in January 2023, and the world (read all developed countries) is going through a recession. As a result, job losses are being reported from the US and impacting the world from where these jobs are being done.


To put the focus on tech companies, the world's top four tech giants have cut close to 51000 jobs (source https://www.reuters.com/business/google-parent-lay-off-12000-workers-memo-2023-01-20/).


Google's parent Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) is cutting about 12,000 jobs as it faces "a different economic reality", it said in a staff memo, doubling down on artificial intelligence (AI) and axing staff who support experimental projects. The job cuts affect 6% of its workforce and follow thousands of layoffs at tech giants including Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Meta Platforms Inc (META.O) who are downsizing after a pandemic-led hiring spree that has led them to become flabby in a weak economy because of these excessive hirings.


The point here is: you don't discover a bad strategy one fine day. Bad strategies manifest in bad decisions and the corrections to the bad strategies were always waiting to happen and they happened (now) indeed.


There can be bad decisions or assumptions made, but if you are agile and continuously improving and transforming, as an organisation, these decisions would have been handled better faster and without much collateral damage.

A culture of continuous transformation helps companies keep adjusting and re-adjusting strategies all the time with proper tracking of ROIs and not resort to adhoc mass actions like what we are seeing now.


ITIL's continuous improvement model is one of the easy and practical frameworks to adopt and evaluate where you are (current state) vs where you wanted to go (Vision). To ensure that you have momentum going it's always good to measure metrics and re-adjust your plans all the time.


The ITIL continue improvement model can be used as a high-level guide to support improvement initiatives. The model supports an iterative approach to improvement, dividing work into manageable pieces with separate goals that can be achieved incrementally.


While most companies do this exercise of laying off people (and jobs) when they are forced to, this situation and its impact could have been avoided (or at least minimised) had they been doing this evaluation continually. They could have avoided the collateral damage they inflicted on all the affected people and their families.


A simple example to illustrate this point is if the companies had no change in their vision or purpose, how could they have gone on a hiring spree? Also, it was not as though these tech companies did not see AI coming their way. While all of us allude to the fact that the covid 19 pandemic was a once-in-a-lifetime black swan event, the companies did have the option of re-purposing themselves which we did not see clearly from any of these four tech giants. However, all of them without exception have gone ahead and hired people indiscriminately.


Building a culture of a continuous improvement mindset (and continuously transforming orgs) is something that all organizations (not just tech companies) need to think about and implement as part of their sustainability strategy. The world (has been through and) will continuously go through disruptions over the next decade and beyond. Building resiliency through continuous transformation strategies is the only way to survive these disruptions in an organised way.


Ravishankar Gopalan

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