The 3 critical steps to starting effective digital transformation in your company

Digital transformation is no longer optional. It’s not going away, in fact it’s accelerating, and if you are part of a leadership team you need to make it one of your strategic priorities.

But unfortunately, it’s gotten a bad name. There are not currently many business terms that cause as much confusion and apprehension. And it’s easy to understand why. Digital is moving at such a pace that most of us find it just a struggle to survive in the digital world, let alone keep up. And it’s leaving no industry behind, which just elicits more worry as no one feels they are immune. Then throw in the word “Transformation” and the brain starts to downward spiral with fear. People associate transformation with change, which for most means complex, costly and unsettling.

Now put it in the context of your workplace, which has hundreds of employees, legacy ways of working, long-standing products and services and processes from a begone day. No wonder it scares the living daylights out of most leadership teams.

So where the hell do you start?

The following 3 steps will help lay a good foundation for the road ahead:

1) Know where your leaders are now

You need to get your leadership team on the same page. Start by asking each of them the following question:

“What does being digital mean for our company?”

I promise you you’ll get a different answer from everyone. But at least you’ve got yourself a starting point and a greater understanding of the challenge ahead.

Then create discussion forums for cross-discipline leadership teams to talk through what it means and what it potentially looks like. It’s important to emphasise that true transformation is not creating one digital product or getting all the staff iPads. It is something that permeates through everything you do.

2) Understand the priorities and focus on your “One Thing” first

For those of you that know me, you’ll know I’m a huge believer in practising “The One Thing” philosophy, put forward by Gary Keller.

Not all action in life is equal, so find the action that will have the biggest impact and the best results and start with that first. Then move on to the next area that will have the biggest positive impact.

So ask your team the following focusing question:

“What is the one thing we can do to transform our organisation, from a company that does some digital things, into a truly digital organisation, such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

This should start a brainstorming process with lots of ideas, from which you can filter down to the one that will have the most impact.

To help you start you on the right track, you should split the ideas into three key areas:

a) Operational Efficiencies
This involves exploring new technologies or digital processes that will help reduce time and resources.

b) Customer Engagement
You need to understand the customer journeys and look at what touchpoints you can simplify or add value too, in order to gain more insight, build greater brand affinity and ultimately drive increased engagement and revenue.

c) Business Model
Could you be doing something else with your knowledge or the data you collate that will bring about true innovation? How could you do business entirely differently in order to create new value through digital?

3) Secure alignment from the leadership team

Once you have your strategy, and your “One Thing” starting point, it’s critical to get alignment from the team that need to live and breathe it. Digital transformation costs money and time. The change process takes a toll on the staff. And you will get things wrong and have to go back to the drawing board. Digital Transformation is hard enough as it is, but if you don’t have your leadership team onboard, you’ve lost before you even begin.

So agree on the vision and the priorities then start the process of buy-in from the rest of the staff. They are looking for a clear picture and a positive “we can do this” from their senior teams. It makes them feel more secure about the journey ahead and it gives you a greater chance of obtaining their buy-in. In turn this will give you a greater chance of turning your new digital vision into a reality.

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