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Digital Transformation - Inevitable or Choice?

Digital Transformation – Inevitable or Choice?

We work with senior leaders and change teams all over the world. Profiling, coaching and supporting the development of digital age leadership.

Helping leaders and change cohorts in their ability to competency drive and actively participate in digital transformation (DX) at an organisational level, ensuring that it is positioned as people focussed and not technology, data, product or service focussed.

Working with hundreds and hundreds of leaders across industry and geography, one major factor- and I think a worrying factor – has emerged from our data. Too many leaders believe digital transformation is a choice, a business decision to be agreed to (or not); dependant on the level of success (or not) their business, product or service achieves against the business strategy, target and/or user need. If there is no burning platform why change, right!?

The majority of leaders believe digital transformation is a choice, a business decision to be agreed to or not.

Whilst many leaders agree digital transformation is important and something that would be beneficial to the business and customer, too few still associate digital transformation as something related to a set of projects and programmes.

What does this tell us? It suggests that, in reality, digital transformation by definition is still being buried within the confines of projects and programmes; burdening project and programme teams with huge delivery pressures that may not be properly supported which, in turn, renders many digital transformation efforts as siloed and limited to addressing digital shift that isn’t fully end to end or applied to the entire system.

Digital transformation has become so synonymous with technology, data, product & service change and we’ve missed the nuance that makes it different and unique to transformation efforts from previous decades. That nuance is that it’s happening everywhere around us whether we like it or not!

We have to start breaking down the walls between business as usual and digital transformation. They are one and the same in many respects. Even without new technology, newly designed ways of working, products or services being tested and piloted by project or innovation teams, we need to start shifting our thinking and ways of working right here, right now in what we are doing within the tiniest moments of our daily routine.

That way we’ll have a chance at encouraging the emergence of culture nurtured on being prepared for the inevitability and constancy of change. Cultural readiness comes before anything else, it’s not part of a strategy, plan or change management push after the fact – it needs to be in – and at the heart of – our business as usual environments.

For example, few people would argue that the growing number of millennials in the workplace, is not creating some sort of cultural friction or disconnect with the organisations’ current operational machinery and cultural norms.

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Does your digital transformation need repositioning?

Whether you are already in the middle of a ‘digital transformation’ or building your strategy – perhaps it’s time to stop and take a big serious retrospective look at your positioning, your metrics, your communication and your leadership involvement. And ask yourself these four things as an example:

1) Is your positioning of digital transformation something you are doing within a project/programme environment only to be ‘rolled’ out or ‘deployed’ across your business when it’s time, after you’ve designed, after you’ve tested and after you’ve piloted?

2) Are your metrics fixated on delivering ‘stuff’ on time and on budget with few tangible measurements of success directly linked to impact? e.g. mapping the effect of a behavioural shift in your target audiences as a direct result of your new technology or design? When I say mapping – I really mean a hard core measurement!

3) Is your communication focussed on us and them: talking about the benefits of the ‘new shiny stuff that we are bringing to you’ type of thing?

4) Is your leadership engagement in digital transformation little beyond being a passive authorising authority or at best a programme sponsor?

If you honestly answered yes to just 2 out of the 4 questions above – your digital transformation is likely to be understood as something which is being done to the business, or with the business despite all your best efforts and despite your intent and aspirations.

Some of the answer lies in the Power of One

Start to think about the many things you do in a day, a week even a month, all the many decisions you make and actions you take. Pick one and think about how that decision or action would play out if you were at home and the person you were interacting with was a friend, a son, a sister, a partner – not a colleague or a customer.

Using The Dilyn Way framework and approach, we work with leaders breaking down their daily habits and actions and rebuild them even before a new technology has arrived, which does something magical. When new technologies, new digital initiatives arrive – the mindset and behaviours are already waiting to embrace the change.

Even more magical, because the framework focusses on the leaders of a business/organisation as a priority; over time, teams and the wider workforce start to follow the leadership behaviours. Those reading this article who work in people services will know well that culture shifts mainly by looking up.

And if a culture looks up and sees the manager or the leader behaving in ways contrary to the shiny new digital transformation promise – what’s the likelihood of shift? I’ll leave you to answer that question yourself…

It’s time folks. It’s time to reposition and admit that digital transformation is something that’s happening organically within our systems as well as across all those project and initiatives we’ve got happening. Together, and only together, can digital transformation really succeed.

Change the way your leaders think and behave, to change your culture, to prepare for your change projects, your transformation programmes and innovation efforts that are working damn hard to breath new life into what you do and who you are.

If you would like to know more about The Dilyn Way and how it can accelerate your digital transformation efforts or if you would like to know more about what the profile of a leader in a digital age looks like – my virtual door is always open!

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