Lindsay Herbert FAQ 5: What do other roles think Digital Transformation means?

FAQ 5: What do other roles think Digital Transformation means?

Lindsay Herbert, keynote speaker and author of the acclaimed book ‘Digital Transformation’ continues her series answering frequently asked questions on the subject of digital transformation.

Here Lindsay answers the question,

“What do people in different roles mean when they talk about ‘Digital Transformation? For the most part, they definitely aren’t talking about the true definition of Digital Transformation, which is to become more adaptive to change itself!”


“Hi, everyone. Today’s Friday answered question is related to a slide I often present so I should explain that first! I show a slide with a table on it that says people who talk about Digital Transformation and then what they really mean.

It gets a bit of a laugh and a lot of people nodding along because the main point of that slide is to say that no-one agrees on the definition of Digital Transformation. And if everyone is talking about it at a meeting, no-one is actually agreeing with one another, because they all have a different idea in their heads, even if they’re all nodding along and deciding to embark on this journey together. There is actually no consensus.

So the question is, on that slide I don’t talk about the Head of HR and what do they mean when they talk about Digital Transformation. Or the CDO (the Chief Digital Officer), what do they mean? And I think for the HR Director and the Chief Digital Officer, for any other kind of role that can exist within a company, when anyone is talking about Digital Transformation, unless they have been enlightened about its real definition, really what they mean is just whatever is most directly applicable to their specific role and how their role is measured.

And this is where it’s really important for people firstly to stop using the term “Digital Transformation”, because it’s very unlikely no-one really knows the actual meaning but secondly, that you stop thinking about transformation in terms of your own individual area, what’s under your control, your department, your role and instead start thinking it broadly as

  • “Why does the company you work for exist?”
  • “Who is it meant to serve?”
  • “How can you be better connected with those external audiences?” and
  • “How can you find different ways of fulfilling that core mission, solving that core problem?”


…which will probably involve not just going outside your department and your role but going outside your organisation as well.

But the other thing too is there are a lot of different steps and approaches that you can take for doing this and breaking yourself out of that siloed thinking, so definitely start reaching out, start learning more and stop thinking so much about the narrow definition that your role tends to put you in.

Thank you!”


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