Future Tech & InnovationCategory2 min read

The Terror — and Thrill — of Transformational Change

Paula Hodgins

“It’s so hard … can we skip to the good part?”

You’ve probably heard this lyric from AJR on TikTok at some point over the past few months. It’s the soundtrack to countless clips that all follow the same pattern — someone starts out with one thing, then effortlessly segues into another. From pregnancy tests that turn into babies to outdated bathrooms that turn into modern spas, the #skiptothegoodpart tag has racked up more than 140 million views … and counting.

What’s behind the popularity of this trend? A lot more than just a catchy song. It gets at a fundamental truth about how most people feel about change. We like the idea of transformation and the better, brighter outcomes it can create. But the process and work of actually getting there? Not so much.

It makes sense. The prospect of change is designed to make us feel uncomfortable and on edge. Chalk it up to instinct — the result of ancestors who constantly scanned their surroundings for any sign of movement that might threaten their survival.

But like it or not, doing the work of change is a constant — in life and in business. So, how can we get more comfortable with it?

I spend a lot of time thinking about this as part of my work at VMware — because in many ways, our business is change. We help drive digital transformation for our customers, particularly in their push to the cloud. But this is a major transition that a lot of organisations struggle with.

We’ve heard the same story, time and time again. Cloud migrations take too long and are too complex. They demand not just technical changes, but process and support changes that require significant leadership buy-in over the long-term. And the pressure to get it right — right now — is tremendous. The pandemic not only turned five-year plans into one-year plans, but fundamentally changed expectations about how quickly an organisation should be able to pivot in the digital space. It’s no wonder our customers want to skip to the good part.

While we can’t make the process of change quite as easy as TikTok creators make it look, figuring out how digital transformation can be simpler and faster for our customers is a huge priority for VMware. We know it’s not enough to just create great products — we also have to deliver the business outcomes our customers need, on the timelines they want, with the resources they have.

The only way to succeed at doing this is by getting comfortable with change ourselves. We have to constantly push ourselves to innovate and evolve so that we can stay one step ahead of our customers’ needs.

This dual push for change — transforming ourselves so that we can help our customers transform — is a unique challenge. It’s a bit like trying to change a tire while you’re cruising down the highway. And the desire to solve it is what drew me to VMware a little more than a year ago.

I’ve always been drawn to the change process and the opportunity to create, rather than just sustain. And as a leader, it’s my responsibility to help get my team excited about it too — not only for ourselves, but for our customers. So over the next few months, I’ll be sharing my best tips for navigating the terror — and thrill — of transformational change.

Until then … what change would you love to skip to the good part of?