I originally signed up for a half marathon. The 13.1-mile distance felt manageable, unlike the massive effort I imagined a full marathon would require. There was just one problem: I’ve never been good at doing things halfway.
With the idea of the big race nagging at me, I decided to push my training — week by week, my runs getting longer and more frequent. Before I knew it, I felt confident enough to take on the full 26.2 miles—something that only a few months before felt impossible.
What does running a marathon have to do with business? More than you think — especially when you’re in the business of transformation.
I spend a lot of time talking with VMware’s customers. Just about all of them tell me the same thing: Their company’s future success depends on having a resilient, nimble digital foundation. They’re looking for platforms and tools that can thrive amid uncertainty and flex to meet evolving demands.
Now, my team and I know most of these needs can be met by embracing multi-cloud solutions, which have customer choice and flexibility baked into their architecture. But we also know the process of implementing multi-cloud comes with its own complexity. It’s a major commitment, one that requires time, skills, and resources over the long-term. In the face of that marathon, the lure of half-measures can be strong.
In this environment, my team’s job becomes two-fold: creating a vision for the future that is compelling enough to inspire action, while also charting a realistic path to get there that feels manageable. How do we do it? The same way I eventually ran my marathon.
Learn to Love the Process
As soon as I signed up for my race, I knew I needed to make a plan. Training isn’t something you can procrastinate on. It requires consistent effort over the long-term. So, I started mapping out what the next few months would look like: the weekly mileage I would need to hit, the time it would take, the days I would run.
Broken up into smaller pieces, the impossible starts to become possible. That’s why creating a process is so important to the success of any digital transformation. When my team starts working with a customer, we spend a lot of time upfront thinking about the business outcomes they’re trying to achieve and the most efficient way of getting there. We’re also constantly looking for ways to improve our own processes so that it’s easy for our clients to onboard, find information and best practices, and get value from our services as soon as possible.
Focus on Short-term Wins
Training for a marathon is a marathon in itself — one that can feel overwhelming when you’re just starting out. That’s why I didn’t think about running 26.2 miles at first. Instead, I focused on hitting better times in my hill and speed work. I pushed to run one mile faster than the week before.
Small wins have a way of boosting your confidence and keeping you motivated over the long-term. That’s why my team and I often work with our customers to identify what workloads make the most sense to move to the cloud and in what order. By executing on specific use cases that create big value early on, we can build momentum for the larger-scale transformation we’re working towards. These customer wins also have the added benefit of keeping our own team motivated because we can see just how much our work moves the needle.
Lean on Your Team
When I think back to my marathon training, one factor above all others contributed to my success: I wasn’t doing it alone. I was part of a running club that helped me keep showing up, even on the bad days. I once took a bad fall during one of my long runs, and I probably would have packed it in for the day if I’d been on my own. But my team was with me, and they inspired me to keep going. I ended up running another 10 miles.
When you’re surrounded by people you trust, just about anything is possible. I remind my team about this all the time. We’re there to be partners to our customers in their digital transformation journeys, as well as partners for each other as we do it. This is especially important when the unexpected occurs. Setbacks are inevitable when you’re trying to do big things. But they don’t have to derail progress toward bigger goals — a fact that’s a lot easier to focus on when you’re surrounded by a team that’s as invested in your success as you are.
When the day finally came and I completed my marathon, it was exhilarating. I couldn’t believe what I had achieved and how far I’d come. That’s the feeling I wish for every one of VMware’s customers when they work with us to. And my team and I are committed to delivering it.