Transformation debt is the accumulation of changes that haven’t been implemented by the organisation to realise agility.
In other words it is the implied cost of additional rework caused by adopting an easy solution over the right but tough to implement solutions.
In many an agile transformation journey, the management or the transformation team/committee tends to behave like the proverbial ostrich burying it’s head in the sand when faced with difficult decision making.
When an organization takes the low risk approach to transformation by experimenting on a team or a business unit, the focus is almost always only the engineering team. These experiments are almost always devised based on the age-old bias that left to themselves people tend to do nothing. So the transformations are hardly goal-oriented but rather a framework compliance plan that is micro-managed with traditional metrics. It is mostly a half-hearted local optimisation experiment completely ignoring the human, systemic and cultural underpinning of transformation.
The transformation debt accumulation ranges from not having coordinated with the Human Resource (time to rename it to Human Capital) team to redefine the JD of the middle management, changing the traditional metrics and the rewards & recognition programs that promote competitive culture rather than collaborative culture, not wanting to initiate communication that might upset someone or just living by the adage don’t fix it if it ain’t broken.
Transformation debts unlike other kinds of debts have paved way for a weak and shaky foundation for the Organization 2.0 that was envisioned. The transformation debt similar to other debts has the innate behaviour of demanding its pound of flesh at the most inopportune time that can paralyse the entire organization if not ring it’s death knell.
How much Transformational Debt has your organisation incurred?