Are Good Business Transformation People Worth Their Weight in Gold?

Are Good Business Transformation People Worth Their Weight in Gold?


Vivek Sood




October 22, 2020

Why we are qualified to Article?

Over the last three decades we have led and worked on more than 500 projects in supply chain transformation in dozens of industries and countries.

VERY FEW PEOPLE KNOW SUPPLY CHAINS LIKE WE DO - Retail, beverages, food, milk, dairy, meat, livestock, explosives, chemicals, cotton, rice, graphite, solar power, natural gas, crude oil, fertilizers, electronics, packaging, glass manufacturing, machine parts, automobiles, industrial goods, mining, etc are just some of the industries where boards and executives have benefited from our proprietary knowledge. 

Since when no one had heard of supply chain, our co-founder Vivek Sood has been considered one of the most authoritative professionals in the field when it comes to the subject of supply chains restructuring in his clients' corporations in Australia, Asia, North America, South America and Europe.

He has written four seminal books about restructuring supply chains to gain massive advantage in business. He also regularly delivers keynote speeches at business schools and conferences such as University of Technology Sydney, Supply Chain Asia, Asian Bankers Forum, APEC Business Advisory Council.

He has been quoted in the authoritative business press and over 100 academic papers written by supply chain researchers around the world. Vivek and his team have examined thousands of supply chains during their projects over the last three decades and helped hundreds of executives build safe, cost effective and sustainable supply chains and careers. 

Business Transformations Track Record is not pretty

Over the past 18 years I have  facilitated, worked on, assisted in, and observed a large number of business transformation projects at a very close quarters. 

As a result, I have seen a countless number of business transformation people in action - many good, some bad, and a few ugly ones.

Luckily, where I was involved, this last category (of a few ugly ones) was identified early enough in all cases - before they could do any real damage to the projects in question.

To contrast the good ones against this last category, and for reader's curious minds, here are a few poignant examples of the ugly ones, that stick in the memory:

  1. There was this very arrogant ex-strategy consulting partner (top-tier big firm) who always believed he knew the answer to every question even before the question was framed. His solution in every problem seemed to be to close the factory and outsource the production. He could not stand taking the second place in any room (except his boss' office)
  2. There was this academic minded researcher who wanted to prove every hypothesis beyond an iota of doubt. It did not matter to him that in the time taken to do so, the data set would be out-of-date every time.  He just could not stand uncertainty.
  3. There was this experienced executive who could only relate all future change to his past experience. If his past experience did not have an example of something he could relate the future to, he could not move into that future. He could not stand unknown.
  4. There was this conference junkie who was at every industry conference and could spout the latest industry speak at the drop of the hat. Only problem was that rarely was it relevant to the situation at hand. He was notorious for handing over half-finished projects to his successors, and moving to greater heights.  He could not stand staying till finish.

I could go on with list for a while more, but I will stop here despite it being cathartic.

Good Business Transformation People Are Rare

I want to focus on the GOOD business transformation people, rather than the other side of the spectrum. It does take a great deal of talent to identify great business transformation people and put them in suitable positions. The rewards accrue both in terms of business success, and talent development.

In this article I will not differentiate too much between 'business transformation personnel' and 'change management staff' or even 'business turnaround specialists'. I mention this only because the distinctions, though subtle, are important. These can only be discussed in another article.

Let us start with defining business transformation - just to be on the same song sheet at the beginning. When the quantum of change in business is so big - either in terms of breadth, or depth, or speed that normal change management strategies would be inadequate we call it a business transformation.

In many companies today we need purest business transformation people to take care of the massive change that is needed.

Recently I was in a meeting where we were discussing the difference between a person who was operating in a 'business as usual' (BAU) and a person who was in a role of  'business transformation' (BT).  

It is worth noting that almost all BAU roles involve a degree of 'change management', yet business transformation is something else altogether.

In this meeting we were discussing the salaries for some new roles coming up, and many people were aghast at the high salaries on offer to business transformation personnel till I outlined the following analogy.

This Analogy Makes It Clearer

Think about a business transformation person as someone who has to log into the hearts and minds of hundreds of suppliers, thousands of employees, and hundreds and thousands of customers, and read the rhythm of these people to hear the discord, and see the unseen blots and know where the current business model is failing. Then they have imagineer a future state business model that will overcome these problems.

Finally, they have to create the massive transformation in the business so that the rhythm sounds much better, and the picture looks much clearer.

This is a harder job than that of a heart surgeon who is performing an open heart surgery on a heart that is live and beating. He is only operating on a single heart.

A good business transformation person is simultaneously  performing the same miracle on a multitude of hearts and minds.

That is the reason why this person deserves to be paid a lot more than a business as usual person.

In contrast, think of the Business as Usual manager as an operator or driver of a machine who can carry out occasional odd repair and maintenance tasks on the machine - but needs a specialist mechanic when a big scale maintenance is required.

Food for Thought - Further Reading

I was about to go into what does it take to be a good business transformation person, and why good business transformation people are so rare - but I will leave those two topics for later articles. Suffice it to say here that if the job is as difficult as it sounds, then it does take enormous amount of training and experience, and a special kind of person who is worth his weight in gold.

September 2020 update 

Here are a few recent articles on these two topics that will answer all the questions left hanging in the last paragraphs of this blogpost:

Supply Chain Mastery

Copyright - These concepts, frameworks and ideas are copyright of GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN GROUP from the time of their creation. Do NOT copy these without permission and proper attribution.


  1. These ideas and concepts will be usually expressed by our thought leaders in multiple forums - conferences, speeches, books, reports, workshops, webinars, videos and training. You may have heard us say the same thing before.
  2. The date shown above the article refers to the day when this article was updated. This blog post or article may have been written anytime prior to that date. 
  3. All anecdotes are based on true stories to highlight the key points of the article - some details are changed to protect identification of the parties involved. 
  4. You are encouraged to comment below - your real identity and email will not be revealed when your comment is displayed.  Insightful comments will be  featured, and will win a copy of one of our books. Please keep the comments relevant, decorous and respectful of everyone. All comments represent opinions of the commentators.

Vivek Sood

Our Quick Notes On Five Flows Of Supply Chain Management

Part of our new “Quick Notes” series – this report answers your most pertinent questions of the topic.

  • What are the five flows of SCM?
  • Why are they important TO YOU?
  • How can you map, track, and optimise these flows to serve YOU?
  • What is the importance of difference between "Supply Chain" and "Value Chain"?
  • What are the stellar case studies of each of the five flows?


USD 20


What Else Exists Besides The Product Flow In The Supply Chain?
How You Measure Success of Your S&OP Determines Success of Your Company?
Are Corporations Effectively Powerless Against The Booming Shipping Container Freight Rates?
  • If business transformation is so difficult, then think about national transformation carried out by the likes of Lee in Singapore, and Mahathir in Malaysia. How difficult is that?

    • Thanks for a great comment.

      Every business transformation is partly a technical exercise, and partly a political exercise. You raise a very valuable point by taking the discussion to Politics and national transformation – which in both these cases was really a massive business transformation. The benefits that accrued to the peoples of both these countries as a result are enormous. To some extent Mr Modi of India is now attempting a similar exercise in India.

  • As a consultant, I have a lot of experience with companies transforming their processes or their programs.

    And today, what’s happening is a lot of companies are looking for a business transformation to maybe go to the cloud or implement a digital strategy, or even implement agile processes. But whether you’re internal or external, there are a lot of challenges that come on when you’re doing a business transformation.

    And some of the challenges you’ll see is maybe a weak sponsor engagement, maybe somebody who’s not really there full-time on the engagement or can really make it a priority.

    • Its nice serenity, It seems that you are having a vast knowledge of business transformation, but in the part of supply chain you can not apply all those of your consultants experience

  • I think quality of transformation in business depends on the situation in the business & new opportunities. How do you categorize transformations into good or bad?

    • A short comment with two excellent points:
      1. Circumstances do indeed make or break business transformations. The key skill is of moulding the circumstances.
      2. What are the criteria for categorisation of business transformation into good and bad? – It is your call, it is your business transformation. How do your define success in each case?

  • Business transformation is a change management strategy which aims to align people, processes, and technology initiatives of a company to its business strategy and vision. As a marketing leader you can help steer a large organization towards transformation. Both external and internal factors can trigger a business transformation. External changes can include new regulations, change in the company’s income stream or funding sources becoming unavailable. Internally, a business can outgrow the skills of the management, the founder may want to exit business without a successor, and the company may develop new products which require marketing.

  • It’s no secret that transformation is one of the biggest challenges facing organisations today, with some grappling with multiple changes at any one time. It is essential. HR needs to partner with senior leaders and effectively communicate with all levels of the organisation to ensure any concerns are addressed immediately before they become widespread issues. It has to ensure senior leaders and all employees are aligned on the strategy and purpose of the organisation.

  • You may have made the decision that your business needs to undergo a transformation, but you need to figure out what needs to change. Before you embark on a business strategy, take a look at the organization’s business model and take into account the needs of your customers. Ascertain whether your organization is meeting their needs. Without a well-thought out plan, a change in your marketing mix may only worsen the issues which are faced by the customers. If your post-service sales is not up to the mark and you launch a new series of digital campaigns, you may end up having a larger section of customers reporting an unsatisfactory experience.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}