Lack of understanding and fear of failure in an enterprise setting is a combination that leaves most organizations paralyzed when trying to develop a digital strategy. In a survey conducted at the 2018 Enaxis Leadership Forum, most business leaders viewed digital transformation as a high priority; however, only 54% claimed to be ready to take advantage of it. Leadership knows that digital driven change is inevitable. In today’s evolving environment change comes in tidal waves, resulting in complete overhauls to revenue and operational models alike. The challenge is understanding WHERE to start and HOW to harness disruptive technologies to create a sustainable and successful digital transformation.
The first step is to avoid the two most common pitfalls when setting out on a digital transformation:
1. One size fits all.
Understand that you are unique. There is no standard playbook for digital transformation. The velocity at which digital trends change and new disruptive technologies are introduced is unprecedented, and exponentially increasing. Every organization is built on a combination of activities, services, and capabilities that require their digital strategy to be uniquely shaped and leveraged. It is important to craft your digital strategy around core tenants, and then adjust it to the complex composition of your environment. Understanding the uniqueness of your organization will guide you away from the destined to fail ‘one size fits all’ digital transformation.
2. Fear of failure.
Perfection can’t be planned for, but it can be pursued. Enterprises of all sizes tend to fall into paralysis by analysis due to the institutionalized concept of the fear of failure. Certainly, you want to perform proper due diligence as you lay out your strategy, but it is perfectly reasonable to admit that part of your strategy must be tweaked along the transformation roadmap. Adjusting or curbing goals is not inherent failure – Continuing to pursue the wrong path is failure.
Knowledge of these pitfalls is essential to navigating a program as complex as digital transformation, however, it is not the only consideration. The question becomes, how do you treat a situation that is completely unique to your organization and has an unclear destination, such as implementing a new digital strategy? The answer is in the approach.
Due to the evolving composition of many digital strategies, Agile project management is the best way to manage a digital transformation implementation. The continuous learning concepts embedded within Agile allow for built-in course correction, resulting in long-term cost savings. Agile is rooted in a set of simple values and principles that focus on delivering value and reducing waste. Enterprises leveraging Agile practices are also more likely to achieve their desired outcomes related to digital.
Agile methodology is simple at its core, yet extremely powerful when put into practice properly. Specifically, implementing an Agile methodology requires enterprises to:
The foundation of a successful Agile implementation is built over time and is most often driven from the top down. Agile allows for better management of priorities, as they shift in importance throughout the project lifecycle. Over 87% of Agile users cited the ability to more easily manage changing priorities as a top benefit of Agile. Within a digital transformation, the ability to dynamically shift to the correct priority is critical to a successful implementation.
The required shift in thinking that enables Agile should not be taken lightly, and is largely driven by C-suite buy-in. Tarah Lourens, UK CTO at payday loan specialist Wonga advises her C-suite peers to be clear on accountability. While Agile calls for workers who feel empowered, it also requires clear goals and boundaries. “Empowerment comes with responsibility and this needs to be made clear,” says Lourens. “The boundaries need to be well-defined so everyone understands when they can make a call and when they need to involve others.”
If properly institutionalized, organizations stand to capture several benefits across their organizations that enable successful digital transformations. Organizations find that they can manage changing priorities more effectively, see increased team productivity, and improve visibility across their digital portfolios.
By Cooper Sides, Manager at Enaxis Consulting