The Value of a Maturity Model

Course-correcting transformation by continually detecting deviation

Course-correcting transformation by continually detecting deviation
Photo by Samuel Foster on Unsplash

Our previous post discussed change vs. transformation and highlighted the importance of embracing and driving true transformation within your organization. In this post, we will explore maturity models and why they are vital for a successful business transformation.

Maturity Levels

Maturity models are usually a matrix with different maturity levels and dimensions. There are many digital transformation maturity models available in the market, and here are a few we identified as valuable references.

The essential steps for an enterprise embarking on a transformation are: 

  • Select a maturity model that fits into the organization’s domain or need
  • Map where the organization currently stand on the maturity continuum (current state
  • Outline where they want to be (aspirational state). 

The goal is that the organization revisits the value model at regular intervals and pivots or perseveres as needed to adjust. Unfortunately, this critical step falls by the wayside in many transformations, causing organizations to deviate from their aspirational state and not recognizing it until it is too late. We like to use the analogy of a GPS device to underscore the value of using the maturity model as a guidance mechanism for a business transformation.

Most of the time, we get help from a GPS device when driving unless we drive in our hometown. Thus, GPS is an excellent parallel to understand the usage of the maturity model. 

The GPS device has become a guiding beacon and an essential part of our lives wherever we commute. Keying the destination has become an involuntary action for many of us, demonstrating the value of being assured that we will reach our desired destination (end state). Regardless of where we are, the GPS device will look up the path based on the current location (as long as there is connectivity). For a business transformation, this is akin to looking at the current maturity stage by running an assessment and defining the immediate maturity level the organization would like to advance into.  

However, blindly following the GPS will not help you successfully travel and reach the destination. There are other conditions and considerations you have to fulfill.

  • The type of the vehicle and the condition of the vehicle matters a lot on a successful journey. It is similar to the technology stack, features, and frameworks we use in digital transformation. 
  • Not every highway has the same conditions – road conditions contribute immensely to the safety and experience of the journey in addition to the time it takes to travel. Organizational structure, culture, process, and heritage play a similar and vital role in mapping this parallel to the digital journey. 
  • When you hit the road, it is not only your vehicle traveling; there are many others around you. You have to keep an eye on other vehicles and their movement. This is homogeneous to the market conditions and competition we have in the business world. 
  • Having a good driver helps to have a safe journey as well as travel on time. Likewise, having a great digital strategist to lead the transformation impacts the outcome considerably. 
  • People inside the vehicle and their behavior matter a lot as well. I’m sure you have experienced how difficult it is to back up the vehicle when siblings are arguing in the back seats or passengers distracting you when you are trying to enter or exit freeways. 

Similarly, transformational change agents need to manage, motivate, and inspire others in the organization along the journey. They need to ensure alignment and excitement for the final destination and keep them appropriately occupied, enabled, and productive during the digital transformation journey.  

Therefore, the maturity model will guide the organization and help reroute and put the organization back on track in the event of deviation from the expected path, just as a GPS does, but note that this is only one of the essential tools to transform your organization.

So, how do we detect if the digital initiative on the right track? We must ensure enough touchpoints to assess, measure, and evaluate the signals of transformation or change.  Regular review sessions are a proven approach. However, review sessions have to be structured at each level. We have three operating levels for any successful business transformation—Strategy, Portfolio, and Product/Initiative level.

Business Value Connectivity within an Organization

At a minimum, we need to have three levels of touchpoints for measuring the flow of business value within the organization. For example, a digital steering committee (DSC), an architecture review board (ARB), and a product roadmap review (or growth board if an initiative). 

Once we detect that the organization is changing or transforming through reviews and using the maturity model as a guideline, we must verify the progress made. Verification has to be conducted at both business and technology levels. Flow efficiency, mean time to detect (MTTD), and mean time to repair (MTTR) are the parameters that help to verify the technical enhancements. Business progress and the flow of business value within the organization need to be measured through organizational connectivity from strategy down to the product or initiatives that drive value. 

An organization undertaking a transformation needs to measure the flow of both technical and business value to enable pivot or persevere decisions to achieve the aspirational state. In the next post, we will be looking at business architecture, a crucial component in connecting strategy with products and initiatives that generate business value for an organization.

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.