This is part 2 of a 4-part series on organizational transformation.

When embarking on any type of journey, preparation and readiness are prerequisites for success. Whether it is planning for a trip, training for an athletic event, or transforming a business, one must first assess whether all the necessary pieces are in place to execute the plan and achieve the desired objective. Without this type of assessment, a critical part of the equation might be overlooked, resulting in the intended result and benefits not being fully realized.

Consider the marathon runner. This type of athlete does not begin an effort of this scale without the proper focus. Is he or she following an appropriate training plan for this type of event? Does his or her diet align with what is needed for the required level of energy and stamina? And perhaps most importantly, is the athlete’s overall health sufficient to undertake this type of endeavor? If the runner is not focusing on these aspects, the outcome may be disappointing.

Just like the marathon runner, organizations that wish to embark on a journey as significant as transforming their business models or underlying strategies, must ensure they are focusing on all the necessary aspects to be successful. A digital transformation is a perfect example of a highly disruptive change effort that requires organizations to have a sharp focus and consider all variables at play, including people, processes, and technology. While implementing a digital transformation is a different type of marathon, it nevertheless requires a proper ‘health check’ to ensure overall readiness.

In the previous installment of this blog series, People Powering Digital Transformation we focused on the importance of organizational and people-related aspects of executing a successful digital transformation initiative, but when assessing an organization’s overall health or readiness for this type of transformation, the people-factor is often overlooked. Too frequently, an organization surmises that if they have done the proper research and development, and made the appropriate investments in the latest technology, that they are ready to be part of the increasingly popular digital revolution, only to later realize that many of the necessary factors are not as well-defined or mature as necessary.

So, how do you know if you have considered all the organizational aspects to make your digital transformation successful? Are you assuming you have a healthy organizational structure and workforce in place for digital success? Well, open wide and say “ah”. Consider the following before giving yourself a clean bill of digital health.


  • Is there a clearly defined, digital strategy in place?
    Business scholars, subject matter experts, and many executives across industries are spending significant time and resources trying to define precisely what is meant by a “digital transformation” and perhaps more importantly in today’s competitive business climate, what it will mean in the future. An organization must have a clear vision in place of what it hopes to accomplish in this space, and a clear understanding of its intended digital end state.

      • Define your digital objectives.
        Are you truly trying to advance to the next level of digital sophistication and be an industry leader in disruptive technologies and innovation, or are you simply trying to improve a given process via technology? For example, are you implementing a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) tool that is far more advanced than your current system, hopefully leading to a decrease manual processes, increased efficiency, and improved operations? If so, this may be an important technological improvement, but will it truly transform how your organization accesses and uses data? Carefully consider and document your true digital strategic objectives so that you can effectively assess whether a given initiative (and the required time and resources) aligns with the organization’s objectives.


      • Ensure knowledge and understanding of the digital strategy and objectives.
        As with any change effort, those impacted by a new digital initiative must be aware of, and understand, the objectives behind the endeavor, if they are expected to participate in the process, much less rapidly accept and adopt new ways of working. Develop a communication plan covering everyone affected by the change, including messages that reiterate the overall benefits of the project to the employee, as well to the entire business. Additionally, provide a roadmap that outlines the timeline and milestones, so people can prepare accordingly. It is also important to build in a feedback mechanism so employees feel safe in providing comments or feedback regarding a new strategic digital initiative.


      • Are the “right” people in place?
        Ensure that you have an effective team in place to drive a successful digital transformation. For example, do you have digital “champions” that will own the process, approve deliverables, address risks and issues, and escalate roadblocks to executive leadership when necessary? Conversely, do not forget the value of dissenting opinions; an effective team must also include people who are not afraid to challenge ideas and the process, along the way.

        •  At the outset of your digital journey, evaluate the relevant stakeholders to assess their level of influence, as well as their level of buy-in to the new digital policies. This will assist with communications, risk mitigation, and in identifying possible barriers to acceptance.
        • Formally document everyone’s roles and responsibilities regarding new digital initiatives. Is everyone aware of their responsibilities? Who is ultimately accountable?


    • Does your team have the “right” capabilities to execute your digital goals? 
      As discussed in the first blog in these series, having strong digital capability goes beyond technology infrastructure; it is also ensuring that employees are ready, willing, and most importantly, able to become productive members of a digital workforce.  As Steve Jobs said, “Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them.”

      • Encourage innovative thinking among your team members. What does the front-end of innovation at your organization look like? Is there a formal process in place for new idea generation, and how is this encouraged? Can new ideas come from anyone?
      • Is training in place to maintain employees’ knowledge of the latest digital tools, skills, and risks?

Now, ask yourself again: Are you focusing on the necessary organizational aspects for a successful and sustainable digital transformation? Do you consider the status of your readiness for this type of journey to be “healthy?” If you answered “yes” to most of the questions above, chances are you’re in good shape for the organizational aspects of digital transformation.  If many of the questions leave you scratching your head – not to worry; stay tuned for the next two blogs in this series, where we will dive deeper and discuss the importance of leadership and organizational design in driving digital success.

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