A huge thank you to over 30 of you who voted and commented on this LinkedIn poll about digital transformation difficulties between November 9 and 16, 2020. Unsurprisingly 80% of respondents indicated developing a digital mindset was most difficult.
Some of the mindset comments I found most helpful included:
- Steve Rush on the Importance of Mindset: “Another way to think about mindset is the mental lenses we wear…Mindsets give us our thinking – out thinking creates behaviours and activities which determine our success.”
- David Bowen on the Importance of Seeing Data as a Share Resource: Part of a digital mindset that needs to evolve to support more comprehensive data foundations is “seeing all data as a share resource and having systems to manage it as such.”
- Justin Brown on “Relentless Messaging” as a Critical Building Blocks of a Digital Mindset: “If the broader team only hears digital as a buzzword in quarterly presentations, it’s a lost cause. I think digital should be a constant drum beat throughout an organization, tied to tangible, visible projects.”
There were also helpful comments on how to drive effective digital transformation, including:
- Emily McAuliffe on Honest Two-Way Communication: “A change-management plan with thorough, two-way communications support is critical, and it must be launched long before the change rolls out.” This is especially important when digital transformation “can present a certain fear that other changes may not. ‘Will this digital transformation replace me?'”
- Gustav Toppenberg on Business Use Cases First: One accelerator of digital transformation is “thoroughly understanding the business use case and digital implications to the customer journey and values stream first and then determining the technology solutions afterwards.”
- Jay Boyle on Recognizing the Limits of Digital Tools like Artificial Intelligence (AI): “AI is a great tool for interpolation. i.e. if you have built a product or service in the past and delivered that quantity it will do a good job at predicting all of the variables. Where AI comes up short is in extrapolation. Can it pinpoint the bottlenecks that are preventing your firm from producing and delivering something you have never built before at the price and time you promise it? The computer is often not going to give you the answer. The answer is going to come from walking the shop floor.”
Finally, I appreciate comments from those who went against the majority viewpoint to reminded us of the importance of strategy:
- Josh Summers – “I see that I’m in the minority by choosing “Strategy” here, but in my opinion, a lot of the mindset changes and business activity require a strong vision for the future. Leaders who haven’t developed a strong digital strategy based on customer data, employee feedback and collaboration with IT are flying blind. Without this vision, it’s going to be hard to convince anybody to change their mindset.”
- Ron Okenfuss “I get the mindset comments but I have seen a lot of initiative and digital innovation bump up against an undefined strategy and stall and conversely, I have seen clear leadership on digital transformation strategy empower and mobilize huge organizations to let the mindset grow and thrive.”
Although the majority of poll respondents indicated mindset is the most difficult piece of digital transformation to develop, it is important to keep in mind our research has found all three pieces are critical. As this Thunderbird Knowledge Network article captures clearly
“To demystify digital transformation, it must be broken into specific company activities which support a unique set of 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) strategies,” the researchers explained in an overview of their work. “Such 4IR strategies must be built upon employee capabilities, which enable firms to ‘take advantage of emerging digital possibilities’ or what the MIT Center for Digital Business calls ‘Digital Dexterity.’”
The Big Picture
What fuels digital transformation? Our research has found three key pieces to demystify digital transformation. First, a broader digital vision (to lead our industry in digital transformation, for example) must be broken into specific business activities (examples could include sourcing, sales and training), which provide practical support for the company’s digital strategies (such as reducing costs, increasing sales or upskill employees). All of these key company activities are supported by employees’ ability to develop and use digital-specific capabilities or what we identified as a “digital mindset” capabilities in our research.
As a visual learner, I have found this draft illustration helpful to capture how all three of these pieces hold a successful digital transformation together.
Do any of the above comments from the LinkedIn poll especially resonate with you?
Do you have anything to add to the illustration above?