Honing vs. Sharpening

Do you know when to realign an existing resource versus replacing it with a new one?

There’s a difference between honing and sharpening a knife. Honing is where one realigns the teeth of a blade while sharpening strips away the metal in favor a new teeth. You generally hone a good kitchen knife every day and sharpen it once a year. Your digital enterprise transformation should be thought of in the same way.

Transformation begins with honing. You work with what you have and realign the teeth of your blade so that each one works in tandem with the next to produce an edge. People often confuse the two and think that rough metal pole that comes with your knife set is a sharpener. It’s actually a honing steel and is designed to leave your teeth intact but keep them all working smoothly on a day to day basis.

You can also apply this idea to the importance of understanding your tools as well. Your enterprise may already be running platforms like SAP, Sharepoint, Workday, Eloqua, etc. which are a great stack of tools when implemented to play to their strengths and downplay their business weaknesses. If you implement these tools in a piecemeal or purely technology-driven fashion without this consideration you can cut your business off at the knees.

You generally hone a good kitchen knife every day and sharpen it once a year. Your digital enterprise transformation should be thought of in the same way.

So you start your transformation by honing. In many if not most cases there are “better” tools out there but you can’t migrate everything at once so you hone what you have and “sharpen” your tools once a year by replacing an old implementation or platform every cycle in phases while slowly honing the key ones you can’t live without.