Welcome everyone, to our ninth episode of the Agile shorts.
I like that. We just were talking about blooper reels too. Weren't we?
Yeah, exactly, we were. The music is catchy, I just couldn't help it. Again, welcome. My name is Kumar Dattatreyan and I'm one of the founders at Agile Meridian joined by Michael Jebber and Jolly Rajan. And we're back. And today we're going to be talking about our story, our digital transformation story, and specifically really about the effect the pandemic had on us at Agile Meridian. The three of us, and the way we engage with our clients, the way we engage with the coaching that we do, the training that we do, and how we've transformed ourselves. We'll start there. And so I think what I'll do is turn this over to either Mike or Jolly. What would you like to share about our digital transformation story?
Go ahead, Jolly. I'll give you the floor.
Oh, thanks Mike. I know Kumar and Mike have spent a ton of money on it here. I have it. I'm still tiptoeing into gear territory, but I can totally understand why they did that. And I would probably get that at some point. This has fundamentally changed, especially the life of people like Kumar, Mike and myself, because we are traveling consultants. And we used to be traveling consultants. We used to be on the road all the time. We used to be at client sites and we don't do any of that anymore. We are at home most of the time and on the phone and on Zoom calls, whether that is with family or with our clients. What we have found is that we have to manage our time a lot better.
That's the first thing I realized. What used to be like five minute conversations, is now half an hour phone call or a Zoom call. The effort that it takes to get a change message out there, is much more than what it used to be. Whereas we could get away with repeating once or twice, we have to do that many, many times now, many, many different sets of people, so that the change message kind of settles in. All of those have multiplied the effort that you have to put into this much more than what we used to. And I think that's a big impact on my life personally.
Yeah. I felt it too. And like you said, yeah, there's a lot of equipment involved in this and that didn't happen overnight. And certainly it was hard to get. I mean, you couldn't get anything. It was all back ordered and months away. But as time went by, to the same thing, I noticed that we just needed different things. And to your point, always being on the road, we always valued that in-person experience. And the return that you got on the time that you spent was just massive in terms of when we had to convert to this. A, we didn't have the tools, because really all of us are kind of really about humans first, process and approach second, and then tools third. And so tools were at the back of our mind, right?
We were always kind of, "Tools last, we'll hold off on that." Well, we needed those to be able to operate. And to your point, what I've noticed is it takes... I had to schedule more time, I had to bank on more time to get the same message across, to get the same results on this. The technology definitely came along over the year and certainly the setup now is... I never thought I'd be running a setup like this, or even doing these types of broadcasts. But it's really impacted the effectiveness and the amount of time and effort that it takes to be effective with individuals and with teams and working with them as much as it is all of the tools.
Once the tools were set up, it did make it easier, but it really was still about the people. And how do we overcome... The challenge was how do you make that? How do you try to create that effectiveness that you have on site as much as you can without being there? Right. And I think we're still trying to get better at that. It's still an effort to constantly improve on those types of things.
Yeah, I totally agree. I mean our digital transformation story, if you can call it that, was really fueled by the pandemic and I'm sure it's had a similar effect on every company out there, every organization out there that... Your main sources of interacting with your customers has disappeared. You can't be... Think about the early days of the pandemic. You know, you couldn't go to a restaurant, everything was carry out or delivered, and still is. And to a large extent, people are afraid to go into a restaurant and sit down and eat. Well for us, Agile coaches, that thrive on that human interaction, where all you needed was a pack of stickies and a Sharpie. You could do anything with a pack of stickies and a Sharpie. Well those tools are gone.
You know, the analog tools that we used to use have to be replaced by digital equivalence. We're using things like Miro and Mural and all these stuff, and I've got this fancy camera that's looking at me and capturing my image, and I've got lights and multiple monitors and a green screen that I use sometimes for recording. And I had no idea that... Well, I knew they existed, but I never had to use them before. But Now we do. To your point, Mike and Jolly, it's about how do we connect with people in a way, in this digital environment, that feels more or less as if we were in person with them? And I mean, I would say this is certainly less deal, but it it's the best we can do, you know? I would say like what... The other question I have... The next question, I should say is, what have you all noticed about digital transformation working with your clients, my clients, our clients? What have you noticed about the people and the things that they're going through?
The interesting thing is you mentioned something just a minute ago, Kumar. The best that we can do. What's interesting is, is I go back to my years of doing this on site and sometimes it's very difficult for some individuals and some clients to kind of understand the approach and the process of how we were going through this and the whole idea of iterative and dynamic development, continuous improvement, and this whole thing of, "Do the best you can do now. Take those learnings and then do even better the next time and constantly improve." And what was interesting, I noticed at first was, that message was actually easier to get across to folks, and they got it faster. It was like, aha moments almost instantly, or they finished your sentences the first time you met them, because they're actually dealing with that all day long and not just at their work environment, wiping off your groceries at home.
And how do you deal with a dog in the room all the time? Like we were just talking about a few minutes ago, right? These things were like, "Well, do the best you can do." And people started kind of letting down their guard about what was professional, or what was acceptable and what was real good work? Well, real good work is the outcomes. And that's what the three of us have been talking to companies about for years now. But it was very hard to exemplify in an office setting when they were already successful or they'd been around for 80 years, and there's this kind of corporate ivory, four wall culture around them that didn't permit any disruptiveness or it muted the disruptiveness. And I think that part was actually a little bit of a benefit because now you could start talking about those things in a meaningful way, much faster. Now it took longer to get through the work, but they got it sooner, and they knew what you were going after, faster. At least in my experience.
Yeah. And one of the things that I noticed is, and Mike, Kumar and I are working on putting up this and this is just context, Mike. We are putting up the on demand version of our leadership class. And one of the things that Mike and I are working on, pairing on right now, is a Kotter Change model. Right? And when I was looking at it, couple of things stood out really, really well for me, which is under communicating the vision was one of the problems that Kotter mentioned.
And the problem right now is, in this remote environment, all of those problems have been kind of magnified a little bit. Companies and organizations are actively trying to solve those problems because a light has been shined or shone on that issue. Right? That issue has been magnified a little bit, so now companies are forced to address it, rather than just assuming that it'll be solved by repetition or whatnot. Now we are taking different approaches to solving a problem that maybe existed a while ago, but nobody really cared about.
Yeah, those are really good points. The effect that it's had on people and organizations, how people interact with each other and things that were easy before are no longer easy. Right? And especially highlighted by sort of these change models that are in our course, that we talk about that we used to teach in a classroom in front of a live audience with stickies and flip charts and whiteboards and all the that. Now it's a completely different modality. It's on demand. And I will admit I was one of the people that were like, "Oh my God, no, I'm never going to do remote training. It cannot possibly work." And for the past year, almost a year and a half, we've been doing remote live trainings. And now we've digitized our content to the point where people can just do it on their own.
You know, that's our story and I'm sure that every company out there has, maybe not a similar story, but a story of how this pandemic has changed the way they operate. They couldn't have predicted. Just changed the way they operate. And to the point that you made, Jolly, about the Kotter Change model, that requires some foresight in thinking, you got to think ahead of several steps. And start to execute on your vision. Well, no one saw this coming, so I don't know what advice or guidance would you all give to folks in times such as these, and not that we're going to have a pandemic every 10 years. We might, but just in general, what would you say to people about digital transformation?
Yeah, I mean, going back to that Kotter model, don't underestimate the power of the vision that you have for that transformation, and don't underestimate the challenge that you'll have in communicating that vision to your team, especially in a pandemic remote world that we are in right now. Even if the pandemic goes away in the, let's say the next six months, a year, the work environment changes that we have gone through in the last year and a half, is not going to go away. A lot of that is going to remain. And I don't think working from home has turned out to be the awesomeness that we thought about before, because sometimes now there is no beginning to the day and no end to the day. It just bleeds into your sleep almost.
I don't know whether that is a good thing necessarily, but it's not going to go way. Companies are probably going to try and save money by having people offsite or employees are going to self select out of the office environment. Regardless, you have to keep in mind that what you experienced now, and the actions that you took to get in front of it, is going to be there even after we, hopefully, most of us get vaccinated and we start going back to work. So keep doing what you have done during this time, keep yourself at the front of this rather than work your way to the back again.
Yeah. I think this may have prepared a lot of folks that maybe weren't going to be prepared for when a day came in their organizational life cycle, where they were faced with "Adjust to this or disappear," type situations. Right. I think to your point, we did a segment, I can't remember if it was the last segment or two segments ago, around adaptable capabilities... To your point point Jolly, you're going to have to now take what you used to do pre pandemic, what you found valuable, take those valuable things forward, what you found valuable during the height of this pandemic session, which is going to continue in some way, shape or form for quite some time, and always grab the things that work for you and see if there's a way to carry that forward and add it to the other things that work well for you. Constantly inspect and adapt to these types of things.
You really have to build adaptable capabilities. And so, pandemic or no pandemic depending on how compressed disruption gets, or how deeper disruptive disruption gets, building that capability to be dynamically observant and giving yourself the capability to pivot with value and with that vision. Have your vision be adaptable, as well as executable. At the same time, you combine the best of those two things, and what it will be next year won't be what it is five years from now. And that's okay. And expect it to change and expect to commit time. And this is where the time suck is, a big part of it, to building that out. And to making sure that that's a part of your DNA, it's a part of your culture. We talk about digital transformation. It's transforming to an environment, a world that is highly disruptive. It's not just about data and analytics and technology. It's about the ability to pivot with the changes in the movement successfully in making it an advantage, instead of just a keep myself afloat type of activity,
Right. You certainly want to attempt to thrive from these disruptions and look for, "Okay, where are the opportunities, where are the new niches in the marketplace to exploit and explore?" And as you mentioned, Jolly, it's about staying ahead of the curve rather than being caught unaware with this huge wave crashing down on you, because you weren't prepared for it. All really good stuff. Well, we have a couple of viewers. If you have any questions or you want to share your thoughts on how digital transformation has affected you in the past year, year and a half due to the pandemic, please add your comments to the thread. We will attempt to answer them. Even after this video short is over, which we are fast approaching the end of. We're at about 15 minutes. We try to keep this to about 15 minutes. Are there any other closing thoughts Jolly or Mike, before we go?
I love tech.
I love tech too. [crosstalk 00:16:12] kind of nerd.
It is kind of fun. Yeah, yeah that part of it's fun. I am looking forward though. I even had conversations with folks about, "Hey, when you're able to travel again, or when we're working on site again, would you be interested in...? People are looking forward in this way. Look forward to, even if you don't know when it's going to happen, just look forward to it and say, "When can I start blending in the things that used to work well for me with what I've learned now, and how am I going to make that available for everyone in the best way possible?"
Yeah. That's great advice. And with that, unless I don't see any other comments here, we're going to bid you farewell until we meet again in two weeks. And our topic in two weeks is going to be on feedback, and it's going to be a fun topic. We might go a little longer. We're going to demonstrate how you give feedback as a feedback giver, and also how you receive it. How do you receive feedback? And so it can be a stressful conversation for both sides of the party. And so we're going to do a little play acting and see if we can give you some tips on how to give and receive feedback at the same time. All right. Until then, see you all later.