Every Enterprise Transformation is Rooted in Empathy

Almost every organization today is undergoing some form of digital transformation. It could be to deliver better experiences to the customers (speed to value), improve flow within a value stream (flow modernization), or implement better ways of working for a remote workforce (reduce manual toil). While there are different approaches to each of these outcomes, at its core, every enterprise transformation is effectively rooted in empathy.

The origin story of almost every transformation effort starts with reducing pain for humanity. Uber started with the goal of lessening a customer’s pain of reaching their destination. Instacart, DoorDash, and GrubHub became essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic as they aimed to deliver groceries and food to people who feared exposure. Similarly, telemedicine and virtual hospital appointments helped reduce the stress and anxiety of visiting a hospital and risking exposure. The transformation of the travel and hospitality industries was rooted in implementing sanitization protocols and contactless experiences for travelers for reduced exposure vectors.

This pain reduction is not limited to customers alone. Several organizations have taken a step back to rethink and reimagine how they work in this digital-first, contactless, hybrid world. Investment in collaboration and workflow tools such as conferencing and networking platforms, end-user computing, and distributed software development have triggered workforce transformations. Regardless of whether the pain is experienced by customers (external) or by the workforce (internal), an enterprise transformation aims to reduce some form of pain in an environment (one could also consider it as reducing entropy, but that is a deeper conversation, probably as a spirited dialogue!).

Now, in order to reduce this pain, an organization needs to find change agents – people passionate about reducing or eliminating the identified pain. These like-minded people become the team that will drive transformational success and ensures that it can be sustained. When appropriately equipped, enabled, and entrusted, this team becomes a juggernaut and outcome-obsessed. They start delivering value not only for the customers or end-users but also internally for the workforce and the organization overall, thereby providing value to the customers, workforce, stakeholders, enterprise, and even to the shareholders through their actions, innovation, and perseverance.

Now, because this transformation team consists of like-minded people with a passion and they know that they are delivering consistent value, that validation gives them a purpose. In addition, the mere fact that they are reducing pain and delivering value motivates the team to persevere and overcome hurdles along the way along the transformation journey. Since there is significant emphasis on reducing pain for humans, it is distinctly evident that an enterprise transformation is deeply rooted in empathy.

In addition to this, there is a beautiful outcome that must be underscored. Every member of the transformation team is genuinely invested in reducing the pain that other humans are experiencing. They have an emotional connection with the impacted people and are motivated to take practical actions to relieve this pain. This makes the team members compassionate empaths as they not only feel the pain that others are undergoing but are doing something about it.  

So if you are part of the team driving an enterprise transformation to reduce pain and improve the human quality of life, a huge thank you for being a compassionate empath and driving transformation through empathy.

Dr. Gautham Pallapa

Dr. Gautham Pallapa is a Senior Executive Advisor for VMware. He works with C-Suite and executives at Global 2000 enterprise customers in transforming their strategy, processes, technologies, culture, and people to achieve their objectives and business outcomes. His mantra is "Transform with Empathy" and has successfully led several business transformations and cloud modernization efforts in various industry verticals. Gautham is an agile coach, a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, a SAFe Agilist, and an Ambassador for the DevOps Institute. He writes/talks/works on transformation, elevating humans, helping underprivileged people, and giving back to the community. Gautham was awarded the 2018 Tech leader of the year by AIM for his contributions. He has an upcoming book called "Leading with Empathy" which explores these topics in detail.

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