ABCs for leading digital transformations

Transformations are those irreversible changes you wish will help your business traverse to next-generation of performance. Digital transformations are business transformations with digital technologies as a lever. When pushed to transformations due to peer-pressure and customer-demands, it becomes a necessity. You are never ready for transformations unless it is inevitable, life-threatening. Only very few pack-leaders jump ahead of the curve and set the path for others to learn, and follow. When they fall, they gather momentum back again and move-ahead with double speed. That makes a big difference.

Though several factors contribute to successful transformations, time and again, three things stand-out-tall. The approach, Belief-System, and Consistency.

Approach, the strategy of transformation – as detail as possible describing fully-well a way of dealing with any situation or problem that comes along the route of transformation becomes the basis. The playbook of transformation is important to build and follow-through. What layers will be covered when and how they get interlaced with the rest, keeping intact the task of running the current business is a very important design element. It should cover all aspects of people, process, product/solution, plant/infrastructure, technology, and partners. Embedding learning and unlearning as part of the migration to new ways-of-working should cover – employees, customers, and collaborators; Suppliers’ supplier to customers’ customer. The strength of weakest ties decides the pace and fragility of your transformation journey.

Belief-system – the very fabric of the company to face and lead changes to remain relevant and significant in the marketplace. An acceptance of the need for change, the toughness of the process and agility to move forward. This is influenced by the leader of the organization. If you are the leader, your belief-system becomes that of the system – the organization. If you are tentative and believe it is going to be a tough journey, same belief gets translated to every step in the process. When you are courageous and show the confidence in the system and people, same gets translated into action at every step. Build a strong participatory leadership style and reinforce it with actions across the transformation journey. When you outsource thinking and ownership of transformation to someone else in the organization or outside, you may be running a risk beyond measure. It is fine to take expert help. But do lead it from the front.

Consistency – keeping the momentum and focus on the quality of transformation is what binds the layers together and accelerate success. You will encounter several occasions forcing you to take decisions to slow-the-process, dodge a few areas of coverage and face resistance from a few key people. How you manage the same and maintain the consistency of implementation across different layers of the organization and external interfaces decides the success of the transformation. Else, you will end-up creating anomalies that require more resources and time for running-the-business. They may also introduce inefficiencies in the system and slow-down the entire business. If you decide to be a hybrid organization, do design so and implement it from the beginning. Let that not be an accidental creation. It is simpler to arrest issues at the design than through the process of building the craft. It is your new craft – exercise every possible action to make it remarkable.

Address these ABCs as quick as possible to make the digital transformation journey itself remarkable.

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