Ultimately for Digital Transformation to be successful within your organisation you must firstly have the capability to develop a good strategy and, secondly, have the skills to execute it. With Harvard Business School quoting only 8% of business leaders are ‘very effective’ at strategy development and execution together (and 63% rated as either neutral or worse at either strategy or execution) it is no wonder why A LOT of Digital Transformations are not successful.
Coming from a sporting background I can relate to this… as it all comes down to capability. In pre-season you would assess your squad and quantify their capability. Then as a senior figure within the club you develop a strategy to hit ‘realistic goals’ in line with your capability. There is no point setting out on the journey to win the double (the cup and league) as your performance would always reflect your capabilities and you would be destined to fail. If you did want to win the double you will need to get in additional skills!
When thinking about your business performance (and operations) does it have the capability for digital transformation? Do you have the strategy and execution skills to perform a successful digital transformation?
There are many reasons to start your Digital Transformation and this may cause your CEO’s or sponsors to decide for change, but please consider that the development path your business has been on to date; and the operations you have set-up, are NOT the same as the path and skills needed to get to your desired destination (Digital Transformation). Don’t start your Digital Transformation here.
Graham Ruddick (a digital genius at Comotion) often tells the joke about the Irish taxi driver:
A lost traveller asks an Irish taxi driver “How do I get to Dublin?” The Irish taxi driver replies “I wouldn’t start from here”
The operational skills you have in your business are not the same as the ones needed for TRUE digital transformation; businesses often make the critical mistake that their team can easily adapt and perform transformational tasks. Businesses often overestimate their current operational and leadership skills and underestimate the requirements for digital transformation.
Jonny Wilkinson was the greatest fly-half of all time; and he dedicated thousands of hours honing his skills and performing at the highest level in Rugby Union for years. He won the World Cup, he won the European Cup and he won the hearts of both the English and French rugby community (no mean feat) but if you think you can stick him in the front-row at hooker and think he could do the same, then you would be very wrong. The front-row have their own rules and standards, they have their own code of conduct and they can be very ‘disruptive’.
Digital Transformations are complex and there are numerous reports by big global companies about their huge calamities and failings because they approached it like a ‘business as usual’ change project…and set-up with the same mind-set: “We have a great team; we can perform a digital transformation – easy.” The biggest challenge for Digital Transformation success is NOT the digital technology, but addressing your businesses ‘transformational maturity’ in senior level executives and managers.
This maturity spreads across:
– Your culture
– Your leadership
– Your digital business model
– Useful data
– Your ability for rapid deployment
– Your thought leadership
– Embracing new technology
– Innovation and transformation management
– Your skills and strategy
– Change governance
Notice how this does not include the selling skills of a tech company’s account manager selling you a new system to improve existing operations. Your business, senior executives and managers require a major upgrade to increase the likeliness of success. You need to leave behind the outdated ‘best practices’ developed in the pre-digital era.
A big danger is having false confidence. You develop your team and strategy over pre-season and then get stuck in. You start the first game with vigour, determination, enthusiasm, (and loads of budget). You get stuck into the opposition and tackle the first challenge that comes your way. The second challenge comes quickly after, followed by the third, fourth and fifth.
The lack of understanding and the requirement of new skills to face these challenges requires much more energy and much more people to tackle the challenges. You go in at halftime beaten-up, bruised and knackered – but still in the game. You come out for the second half and the pace quickens and the challenges get bigger. By the 63rd minute you run out of puff (and budget) as you spent the wrong amount of energy in the wrong areas of the pitch. Sound like anything you experienced before?
Top Digital Transformation take-away:
Before you start any digital transformation take the time to set your objectives (before you choose the technology) … then take the time to draw out a well-considered strategy (remember most executives are either ‘neutral or worse’ at developing effective strategies) … and then assess your current level of ‘digital transformation maturity’ to see if you can hit your goals.
Look at the bullet list above and analyse your capabilities. If you are falling short on any skills to hit your objectives then you need to hit the training field or the transfer market. All the best with your transformation journey.
Scott Hodson – Digital Transformation Consultant