Digital Transformation: The Perils of the “Get Digital Done” Culture | Blog

Posted On February 6, 2019

The “Just-in-time” methodology focuses on achieving an outcome through defined structured processes that also build organizational capabilities. “Somehow-in-time” focuses on somehow achieving an outcome, irrespective of the impact it has on the broader enterprise.

Most enterprises reward leaders who embrace “get it done” approaches. Unfortunately, the ideology is becoming part and parcel of more enterprises’ digital transformation initiatives. And while “get it done” may seem like a glamorous virtue, it is detrimental when it comes to digital.

Get Digital Done Doesn’t Build Organizational Capabilities

Everest Group research suggests that 69 percent of enterprises consider the operating model a huge hindrance to digital transformation. Leaders are in such a hurry to achieve the intended outcomes that they neglect building a solid operating model foundation that can enable the outcomes on a consistent basis across the enterprise. This leaves each digital initiative scampering to somehow find resources, somehow find budgets, and somehow find technologies to get it done. And because no new organization capability – think digital vision, talent, or leadership – is developed – these initiatives do not help build sustainable businesses.

Get Digital Done Rewards the Wrong Behavior and People

Much like enterprises’ fascination with “outcome at all costs” creates poor leaders, digital transformation initiatives are plagued with the wrong incentives for the wrong people. Our research suggests that 73 percent of enterprises are failing to get the intended value from their digital initiatives. The key reason is while the leaders are expected to “somehow” complete them, there is no broader strategic agenda for them to scale it beyond their own fiefdoms. Our research also indicates that while enterprises want to drive digital transformation, 60 percent of them lack a meaningful digital vision. They’re obsessed with showing outcomes, and cut corners to achieve them. They take the easier way out to get quick ROI, instead of getting their hands dirty and addressing their big hairy problems.

Get Digital Done Does not Align People towards Common Goals

Obsession with outcomes makes leaders leverage their workforce as “tools” for a project rather than partners in success. Because the employees are not given a meaningful explanation of the agenda and the impact, they become execution hands rather than people who are aligned towards a common enterprise objective. This ultimately causes the initiative to fail. No wonder our research indicates that 87 percent of enterprises that fail to implement change management plans see their digital initiatives fail.

To succeed in their digital transformation journeys, enterprises must put their “get it done” obsession away in a locked drawer and focus on three critical areas:

  • Build a digital foundation: Although easier said than done, this requires a revamp of internal communication, people incentives, and a shared vision of intended goals. Each business unit should have a digital charter that aligns with the corporate mandate of leading in the tech-disrupted world. And it requires strategic, yet nimbler, choices on technology platforms, market channels, brand positioning, and digital vision.
  • Have realistic timelines: Expectation of quick ROI is understandable. However, a crunched timeline can backfire. Enterprises must work towards a pragmatic timeline, and incentivize their leaders to meet it without bypassing any fundamental processes.
  • Involve different stakeholders: Our research shows that a shocking 82 percent of enterprises believe they lack the culture of collaboration needed to drive digital transformation. That means the initiatives become the responsibility of just one leader or team. And that simply won’t work. Instead of driving everything independently, the leader or team should be an orchestrator of the organization’s capabilities. This is the key reason more enterprises are appointing a Chief Digital Officer, as one of that role’s key responsibilities is serving as the orchestrator. Additionally, the team needs to leverage the organization’s current capabilities, and enhance them for the future. It should build a charter for its digital transformation initiative that includes impact on fundamental organizational capabilities such as talent, business functions, compliance, branding, and people engagement.

In their race to “get it done” and appease their end customers, enterprises have forgotten the art of building organizational capabilities that will sustain them in the future and create meaningful competitive advantage. And they can’t succeed unless they change their approach and ideology.

Does your organization have a “get it done” culture, or has it built the right organizational capabilities to achieve true transformation with digital? Please share with me at [email protected].