Hi Mum! Said Dad

Posted by Craig Wills

There is no denying that digital transformation is a hot topic.

A quick Google search will return a million comprehensive reports, webinars and fancy diagrams on the subject.

So much of the writing is grounded in high level theory and for many CDO’s, digital transformation feels like an unwieldy 10-headed beast; spitting acronyms, platitudes and Airbnb case studies all over their bewildered faces.

Despite all the great writing on the topic, how to approach a digital transformation project is still a major challenge for many.

The name itself is the first blocker — it’s just too great to fathom. “Tell the kids l love them, I am embarking on a digital transformation project, I’m not sure when I’ll be back”.

To help you return safely from your transformation mission, I have detailed my top 10 winning factors for successful implementation:

  1. Forget technology — (well… for now) Digital transformation is not a technology problem. The business opportunity should lead the thinking; technology is just your enabler. Start with the business opportunity or problem, the market context and people — nail that, and only then turn the focus to technology.
  2. Set goals — Start with the wider business goal, operating context and the expected impact of transformation.
  3. Make them measurable — Link the overarching rationale and desired outcomes to measurable ROI. If you want continued support beyond the initial excitement, you will need to anchor the initiative to an outcome that feeds the life blood of the business. For most, that’ll be financial.
  4. Think cross-business — You will need the skills and foresight to see how the opportunity manifests itself across facets of the business — for instance, what’s required of the call centre, logistics, physical store or your employees for the transformation initiative to work.
  5. Set a plan for stakeholder management — Navigating stakeholders across the business is fundamental to success. This could mean getting buy in, fostering collaboration, putting a plan in place to collect and mitigate potential blockers, or even just getting agreement on the goal. The more digital savvy amongst you will need to consider how you frame the info for the varied levels of digital understanding or confidence.
  6. Focus on leadership — Leadership is just as important as digital knowledge. You will be gunning for cross functional outcomes to effect real change; leading this process in traditional silo business structures requires planning and strong leadership.
  7. Get permission — Get the authority to effect change. You will need to drive past that very senior board director and their assertions that if their 16 year old daughter isn’t doing it, it’s not a real digital trend.
  8. Earn permission — From my experience, the authority given as the project owner at the onset is a limited time offer. To go the full distance, authority needs to be won through test and learn early on. Get your hands on some data to support the direction — whether analytics from live products, prototyping, surveys, focus groups etc. Data galvanises ongoing support and keeps a strong hold on permission.
  9. Formalise sharing — Transformation projects are almost always polarising, taking stakeholders and sponsors along for the journey helps to de-risk missing any information that may diminish the effectiveness of the project.
  10. Don’t let it snowball — Most successful projects will see secondary stakeholders wake up to how the initiative could be extended to support their own goal. Always resist the temptation to address loosely related problems as you progress. Avoid the snowball and focus on one business problem at a time.

Hopefully you found my top 10 winning factors helpful.

Every business will have its own operating context and challenges but when you break it down, focus on the business rationale and avoid the temptation to tackle it all at once — it doesn’t have to be so complicated.

If you’d like to chat more about digital transformation, give me a shout, or just come down to the Chief Digital Officer Forum in London, on April 14th, and listen to a panel of digital leaders discuss the highs and lows of transformation.

Originally published at www.himumsaiddad.com.