Hans Dijckmans

For a digital transformation that rocks

Companies undergoing a digital transformation should start investing a lot more in relational mechanisms in order to create close bonds between teams and people who are collaborating. After all, new tech means there are new skills to learn and that can put quite a burden on the organization as a whole.

New skills, short timeframe

Digital transformation often requires cutting-edge technology, and therefore comes with a significant need for new IT skills such as business process engineering, service design, APIs, and cloud computing. Professional IT workers often need to learn all this in a short space of time, and digital transformation inherently means shorter feature release cycles with fewer people. All these factors put quite a lot of stress on the organization, resulting in additional pressure from management on the “IT worker bees”.

Countering incivility

Given these circumstances, a lot of managers tend to end up in incivility – even though the article “The price of incivility” by Christine Porath and Christine Pearson clearly shows that this management style is very counterproductive. Organizations therefore need to arm themselves against this phenomenon.

Firstly, companies need to bring team members closer by investing in relational mechanisms such as offsite team events and regular delivery celebrations. This enables people to get to know each other outside the day-to-day work context. You’ll also need to put reporting processes in place that chastise incivility to reinforce the idea that it’s unacceptable behavior within the company. These measures should make the company’s digital transformation process significantly more successful.

Up to speed and aligned

It would also be better for companies to stop focusing on and emphasizing the perfect design and small-scale implementation of cutting-edge technologies, methodologies, or architectural styles. Instead, it’s better to encourage the entire workforce to embrace new concepts and ensure they reach the required level of knowledge and skills as soon as possible.

Eyes on the prize when exploring innovation

Every now and then a new technology, methodology, or architectural style buzzword makes its rounds within the organization. We’ve all heard about SOA, APIs, microservices, cloud computing, SCRUM, agile, and the like. A relatively small team is often then given an open mandate to start playing with these new concepts without any clearly defined objectives. Consequently, they are dragged so deep into this new, better world that they often forget about their most important objective: learning about the new concepts and investigating how the rest of the organization can benefit from the knowledge and skills they have obtained in the most efficient way.

 

These teams often end up behaving like scouts being send out to discover, but not coming back to explain what they’ve seen. Organizations should be stricter about their expectations and clearer about the outcomes when proclaiming such an exploratory mandate. This approach should offer a higher success rate when rolling out innovations across the entire organization.

Put digital thought leaders in charge

Finally, enterprises should put more digital thought leaders in the company’s strategic driving seat. The current market direction towards a digital economy comes with a whole new method for business (process) engineering. Digital transformation is all about adopting cutting-edge technology and learning how to govern and manage it using a lean operating model with agile (delivery) methodologies.

Conventional board room members often lack the knowledge and skills to gain a clear view of the organizational and operational bigger picture for streamlining the consecutive processes up until the delivery of the targeted customer experience and services. That’s where these digital thought leaders come into play. They can help the board room understand that serious investments are required in a digital foundation in order to realize the targeted benefits. A digitally knowledgeable CIO and/or COO – with support from a mature CIO/COO office consisting of architects and business and technical experts – should be a big step forward in driving the company’s strategy towards success.