Digital Transformation – Guiding Principles

Digital Transformation is an evolving journey – a journey without end. The Guiding Principles below are intended to help organizations successfully navigate that that journey.

  1. Culture and Mindset: Digital transformation is about much more than technology – it is fundamentally about culture and mindset and requires moving beyond a technology mindset to a business value mindset.
  2. Value: The primary focus of digital transformation is on outcomes that create and sustain value for a broad range of stakeholders including organizations and people who are involved in or affected by the outcomes.
  3. Triple Bottom Line: Digital transformation’s reach goes beyond business and financial measures – it impacts, and its performance and value will be measured against the 3 dimensions of the Triple Bottom Line1: social, environmental, and economic.
  4. Continuous change: Realizing the potential value of digital transformation will require ongoing and fundamental changes to the nature and purpose of organizations, including, but not limited to their governance, business models, processes, people skills, and organization structure.
  5. Reducing complexity: Digital Transformation requires an obsession with simplicity and reducing complexity – transcending traditional roles and hierarchies, dismantling bureaucracy, and getting things done collaboratively, and flexibly through teamwork and responsible autonomy.
  6. Leadership as a behavior: Digital transformation requires recognizing that leadership is a behavior that must be nurtured, empowered and rewarded throughout an organization, with leadership at the top creating an innovation-minded culture that fosters creative thinking, agility and speed based on a solid foundation of trust and empowerment.
  7. Decision making: Digital transformation will require ongoing and fundamental changes in traditional roles and hierarchies as information becomes available to anyone, anytime, anywhere enabling a more data-driven, flexible, and adaptable decision-making process – one which embraces openness and transparency and is focused on evidence rather than hierarchy and ego.
  8. Agility: Digital transformation requires the capability to rapidly adapt and up-scale or pivot depending on progress towards desired outcomes.
  9. Unlearning: Unlearning is critical for digital transformation – it’s not what you know, but what you’re willing to unlearn, that will hold the key to successful digital transformation.
  10. Ethical use of technology: Digital technology is itself neutral. When used ethically, it can contribute to positive outcomes for stakeholders. However, when used unethically, either accidentally or deliberately, its use can cause great harm. Organizations and society must be constantly aware of, and pro-actively guard against such misuse.

1 Source: John Elkington, “Towards the Sustainable Corporation: Win-Win-Win Business Strategies for Sustainable Development,” California Management Review 36, no.2 (1994): 90-100. Also see Elkington’s “rethink” in BR, June 25, 2018 25-years-ago-icoined-the-phrase-triple-bottom-line-heres-why-im-giving-up-on-it (the title is misleading).

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