This week I had the privilege of being a guest panelist at the Stratosphere Digital Transformation conference in Denver Colorado. It was so great to meet so many people who are now embarking on their own digital transformation journeys as well as a few of us seasoned veterans who have been doing it for a while that were there to share our experiences, triumphs and lessons learned. There were a bunch of questions that were asked during our panel discussion. The one that sticks out the most for me was around ERP-based transformations and the question was (and I am paraphrasing), “If folks have been implementing these ERP transformation initiatives for 20 years or so now, then how come you still hear all of the horror stories around being over budget, late, not delivering as expected and lawsuits against the software and implementation providers?” It was a great question and one that brought about a spirited conversation during the session and throughout the remainder of the conference. There are a variety of reasons why these situations still happen today and I will probably be writing on a bunch of them over the next few weeks or so. As for my response during the conference I responded to the question from the lens of the implementation itself. In my opinion, a major reason why large-scale transformation initiatives are late, over-budget and don’t achieve the objectives for which they were originally chartered is due to the operational inefficiencies and disconnects that occur amongst all of the moving (human) parts within the project organization trying to implement these initiatives. These types of initiatives can be ginormous—with 100, 200, 300 or more people all trying to work for the greater good of the implementation. These initiatives are run by very good, smart and capable people who have years of experience doing this type of work. The problems come in leading these resources, all the resources, to make sure they are going in the right direction and that collectively each of the groups that make up the resources knows what the other groups are doing and how they are all inter-related. This is where things usually tend to fall apart. Though, as a project organization, we all (usually) know the big picture and the strategic direction the program is heading, we lose the connections in the details. All of these groups of resources are working really hard all trying to deliver great value in their domain of expertise, but things tend to get lost in translation at the granular level and the intersection points where all of these groups need to be aligned. For years this is has been left up to the Program Management Office (PMO) and the dozens of assistance that are trying to gather details, have meetings, and if the planets align, catch the mis-alignments that may occur across the groups. The reality is that approach simply does not work. There are so many nuances that get missed that impact so many other groups that drive disconnects, delays and frustrations the closer you get to the finish line. What’s really frustrating—given our new focus on “Digital Transformation” is that there hasn’t been a Digital Transformation on how we (as practitioners) implement Digital Transformations. Every program I go on uses the same basic set of tools that were used when I started in transformative consulting more than 25 years ago. The only thing that has really changed is that we have moved from file server technology to SharePoint to capture all of our project documentation and maybe used some remedial governance lists to manage risks, issues and actions. I shared my opinion that until we improve our digital capabilities in the implementation of our transformative programs we will continue to have the same results of being delayed, over-budget, disconnected and falling short of our original goals and objectives. These thoughts and comments truly resonated with the seasoned veterans at the conference—all agreeing that this is a major problem that needs to be addressed. So, what do you guys think? For those of you who help clients with their digital transformation efforts do you see this as an underlying problem and a key reason for these types of failures. I welcome your thoughts and feedback. Before signing off, I want to personally thank Eric Kimberling from Third-Stage Consulting for allowing me to participate at this conference. I truly had a great time, met great people and already looking forward to the next Stratosphere Conference!