Arguably, if you are clutching a digital transformation Gantt chart as your ticket to market dominance by year 20-20, you have spectacularly missed the point. This is because the journey is longer than you think with several checkpoints far in between.
There are enough battle scars to convince one that investing in an ambitious digital transformation plan without first immersing the employees in the digital lifestyle posits a huge quicksand. Let’s keep it simple, the first step to transforming digitally is to set a threshold on employee knowledge and adoption on the projects the organization seeks to execute. The second is to embrace a smart collaborative wherein employees begin to creatively compete on innovative ways of improving on what exists and in the process building hard-earned consensus.
The third step is to acknowledge that digital adoption especially of the Millennials should not be done at the expense of the traditionalists and humanists who are largely within the baby-boomer and Gen X group.
The obvious truth is that a digital transformation plan that does not figure out how to sort out the analogue compliments who constitute the organic repository of the institution could spell doom to the plan. It is unlikely that many traditionalists who still call the shots within the organization are very comfortable with the compelling frequency of downloading new apps, updating the same and indeed multi-screening across different devices.
Institutions seeking digital transformation must first improve their appetite for failure. Most senior executives are aware of the “zero- tolerance” mantra which has been mainstreamed in many corporate circles in Africa in the notorious acronym “On Your Own” (OYO) which literarily means take your risk and sink alone if it fails. Digital transformation should primarily be about putting technology in the hands of people to help them build excitement for themselves and a better experience for customers. By extension, it means redefining organizational structures and rethinking the strategic role of skills and talent needed in the workplace. As 3M’s legendary Chairman William Mcknight once said, “The best and hardest work is done in the spirit of adventure and challenge….mistakes will be made.”