Over engineering the unwanted: A major bottleneck in Digital Transformation

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This post is a result of a Linkedin post I just read so it will probably be short. The picture below was shared by someone as “Lean Boarding pass”. This picture was compared against a conventional boarding pass. The “celebration factor” of the post was that applying lean to the way printed boarding pass are laid out, you can create a printed boarding pass that is much simpler.

First of all, to be fair- it does look much simpler and much easier to interpret. However, that is not the crux. And also, this was just a “illustrative” post, as in, this was not something that has actually been done. The question is- do you need to over engineer something that should not exist at all in this age or is close to being defunct- like a printed boarding pass ?

To me, it is as irritating as mobile check deposit. A”Digital” process that does not eliminate paper checks at all. You still need to take a picture of a paper check. So stupid ! Yes, the processing time has shortened but this has been around for a while now. I was expecting that FinTech experts at leading banks would have come up with some ways ( I can think of one approach using Blockchain but I am not a FinTech expert so can’t vouch it will worl or how impossible it will be to implement) to make it a purely Digital process by now. It is also as irritating as a paper receipt from a CC transaction-that gets printed without me asking for it, more often than not. In this age of Digital banking, those receipts are redundant for those who bank online, yet many locations print them by default. What a waste of paper and Ink !

And the reason I am rambling is because I belive this mindset exists in the way we embark on Digital “Transformation” journey.

Typically, functional leaders at organizations would hire external partners. Then the top leadership needs to see “justification” (read $$$) for the fees the external partners charge. The functional leaders who have hired these external partners then pressurize the external partners to show “quick wins”. Many of these quick wins may come from creating efficiencies in processes, that would anyways be totally transformed or become obsolete in a true Digital transformation (and functional leaders may be made aware of this fact).

So organizations end up spending resources on those “low hanging” fruits in these obsolete processes/methods/org structures. Then they will invest resources again to transform/eliminate them in later stages of transformation. They have over engineered something that should have been left untouched- it was anyways going to be eliminated. The fact is, any initial savings get nullified and in net- you may have actually wasted resources. So essentially, even though it looked like that- there was no “low hanging fruit”.

Don’t develop Lean boarding passes in your Digital transformation journey.

Views expressed my own.

Many may argue that not all people are Digital savy enough for mobile boarding pass. True, but I can think of few other methods for those who are not sure about QR Codes etc. Imagine how much Airlines can simplify their ground operations at arrivals if no one needed a paper boardig pass. In these tough times for the airlines, that would also mean some respite in the form of operating cost efficiencies.

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