The Transformation Instinct: Nature vs. Nurture

Topics in this article

I recently finished a fantastic read called Factfulness. The book, authored by Finnish statistician Hans Rosling, his son Ola and daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund, focuses on how the world has changed in terms of health and wealth, and the potential for human progress based on fact versus inherent biases. Aside from being a really great way to learn critical thinking skills it shows us that, despite the daily onslaught of bad news, the world is actually getting better. Much better in fact!

As I read the book, many things came to my mind about human progress in terms of IT transformation and multi-cloud—my focus here at Dell Technologies. Throughout history, Hans Rosling tells us, there have been leaders who devised and executed an actionable plan to transform their countries and its people out of poverty. Human progress and transformation, however, is ever-evolving and critical to survival not only in life but business. And I have to say, I can’t help relate how Dell Technologies’ new ProConsult Advisory set of services helps our customers develop an actionable plan for transformation that leverages a unique and proven methodology to get there successfully.

I certainly don’t intend to spoil the excellent book (I really think you should read it!), but I thought it worthwhile to further draw comparison to some of Factfulness’ ideology to technology. There are ten “instincts” covered in the book. Here I’ll discuss three of them, though the others could be applied in different ways.

Turn intuition into strength again. —Ola Rosling

The Destiny Instinct: Transformation “Never” Happens

In the book, the authors describe something called The Destiny Instinct. That is, things are one way and destined to remain that way forever without changing. For many things, whether we’re talking about IT transforming into a service provider, adoption of multi-cloud, or countries getting out of extreme poverty, one thing is true: change does happen, but it often occurs slowly.

There was a commercial created by Qwest in 1999 that shows a man checking into a little motel and asking about the quality of the rooms and whether they serve breakfast. When he asks about entertainment, he is told that all rooms have “every movie ever made in every language anytime day or night.” This commercial aired well before services like YouTube, Netflix and Hulu existed. When I first saw it, I never believed any of it would be possible, but 20 years later we’ve gotten pretty close. Major transformation happens, but it occurs slowly.

Transforming IT or adopting a true multi-cloud architecture isn’t something that happens overnight either. Often it takes many small steps, such as adopting Infrastructure as Code principals or migrating workloads to public clouds, along the way to a full transformation. Most importantly, transformation doesn’t happen without a plan. That’s one of the best parts about ProConsult Advisory – customers get a fully actionable and visual plan for transformation that they can actually see and hold in their hands. It’s something they can hang up in their conference room or IT leaders’ offices and see exactly where they are on their journey.

The Urgency Instinct: Transformation Happens, but it Has to Occur NOW

Another instinct discussed in the book is Urgency. That is, something needs to happen immediately because it’s so important!  Or you’ll miss out! Or, if you don’t transform immediately your company won’t survive!

Do these sound like things you’ve heard before?  If so, I’m not surprised.

Transformation is a process that takes time and you need an actionable plan. Organizations can’t go from primarily running off a single private cloud to suddenly adopting a full multi-cloud architecture complete with standardization, automation, operating model changes, and cost visibility.

If you give in to the Urgency Instinct, you’re more likely to buy whatever a vendor tells you to get your business transformed the fastest. In this case if you rush to transform immediately, you may miss important aspects of how your IT organization and your business operates. Your plan to transform should including taking the time to evaluate the goals of your business, the desired business outcomes you want to achieve, and developing a plan for how to get there. Transformation should happen thoughtfully, not urgently.

Knowing that transformation is a process that takes time, we employ ProConsult Advisory to map out a strategy that covers the next several years and highlights the key changes that will be required to get there. Not only do you get a strategy, but you get the actual business case analysis to go with it that’s critical to gaining consensus and buy-in from all levels of the business—IT cannot transform on its own and needs support from across the business.

If you want to change the world, you have to understand it. —Hans Rosling

The Generalization Instinct: Transformation Happens the Same for Everyone

The last instinct from the book I wanted to talk about is the Generalization Instinct. That is, that change is the same regardless of where it’s happening. If you’re a large pharmaceutical company, do you expect your IT transformation journey to look exactly the same as an automotive company? The answer is obviously no, but the curious thing is that many publications and analysts talk about transformation as if everyone’s journey will be the same. Move workloads to the public cloud. Automate everything.  Adopt containers and microservices. The list goes on and on and the truth is many of them are right for many organizations. But not all of them are right for all organizations.

The best way to transform is to fully understand the needs of your business both today and where it needs to go in the future. Transformation for transformation’s sake doesn’t make sense or solve your organization’s challenges. Take multi-cloud for example – utilizing multiple cloud by itself will not automatically solve all customer challenges. But those customers who adopt multi-cloud and perform an analysis to figure out the right cloud for each of their applications (among other analyses needed) will get the best possible experience.


Crafting a strategy and plan for transformation that is specific to each customer’s business is how ProConsult Advisory is built. We have already worked with customers across all transformation pillars – IT, Workforce, and Application. Recognizing that all customers are different, and no two transformations look the same is a key tenet of ProConsult Advisory, and developing a customized plan is the goal. We want to leave our customers with something that is specific to their business and enables them to act right away.

Have you read Factfulness yet?  Take a listen and a look at how Bill Gates endorses the book.

If you have read the book, leave me a comment on what you thought about it and how you think it can apply to your organization’s transformation journey.

Other Sources

Hans Rosling’s 2006 TedTalk “The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen

Hans and Ola Rosling’s 2014 TedTalk “How Not to Be Ignorant about the World

The Rosling’s Pitch for the Book “Why We Wrote Factfulness

About the Author: Matt Liebowitz

Matt Liebowitz is the Global Multicloud lead for the Dell Technologies Consulting Services Portfolio. He focuses on thought leadership and service development for multicloud, automation and data center related Consulting services. Matt has been named a VMware vExpert every year since 2010 and is a frequent blogger and author on a wide range of cloud related topics. Matt has been a co-author on three virtualization-focused books, including Virtualizing Microsoft Business-critical Applications on VMware vSphere and VMware vSphere Performance. He is also a frequent speaker at the VMware Explore and Dell Technologies World conferences.
Topics in this article