The Declaration of Digital Transformation Success

How do you achieve digital transformation success? Some might answer that it varies, since no two success stories are quite the same. Failed projects, however, seem to posses all too many commonalities, which actually implies that we should be able to arrive at some principles for success as well. Or at the very least for avoiding complete failure. Right?

But what are those principles? During the first day of the J. Boye Aarhus 16 conference, a group of digital leaders discussed what a framework for digital transformation success might look like. It was misty outside, but they didn’t notice. They talked, drank coffee, ate cookies and voted their way towards five principles that will move any digital project a great distance towards success.

1. Leadership

We must fearlessly step forward and lead the way, helping our existing leaders understand the critical need for consistent involvement in ongoing Digital Transformation.

Leaders:

  • Must create and communicate the purpose, vision, and values of the organization early and often, as transformation unfolds.

  • Should maintain alignment with the needs of customers and the organization’s goals across the organization and among senior leaders.

  • Must secure appropriate resources necessary for Digital Transformation and tend to the care and development of scarce, critical, digital talent.

  • Should empower frontline resources to make decisions, yet stay involved with the process throughout.

  • Allocation of budget should consider the ongoing development of digital.

2. Customer Centricity

Digital Transformation must be lead with obsessive attention to the needs of customers, which are constantly evolving. As such, we must create a culture of continuous reflection and improvement, communicating with real customers to understand who they are and what their needs are.

Digital Leaders must:

  • Put ourselves in our customer’s shoes

  • Map their journey with the brad

  • Understand and champion their needs

3. Strategy

An agile execution team must be grounded with the strategy and values of the organization.

Key considerations:

  • Start by fully understanding the problem and gather detailed requirements

  • Define success with a broad group of stakeholders and be specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and time bound (S.M.A.R.T.)

  • Understand competitor efforts in the same space and seek out relevant trends and technology

4. Organizational Change

Digital Transformation is not simply the purchase of new technology. As new solutions are adopted, new roles may be needed. It is necessary to understand the impact on the organization.

Key considerations:

  • We must budget for training and enablement

  • Leverage internal communication to improve efficiency and awareness

  • Understand and shape a culture of change to head off fear and unrest

  • Change management is nothing new, seek outside guidance for best results

  • New processes and ways of working may be needed

5. Agility

In a time of accelerating change the old, linear way of managing projects is no longer effective. Large scale Digital Transformation requires an agile approach to be able to react to potential changes in customer requirements, technology, and business needs.

Agility includes:

  • A willingness to fail — while capturing learnings

  • Ongoing measurement and optimization

  • Managing delivery teams as necessary to succeed

  • Empowering the delivery team to make critical decisions

Thanks to the contributors

The creators of this manifesto who came together at the 12th J. Boye conference in Aarhus, Denmark and created this on November 1, 2016 are:

More insights from the J. Boye Aarhus 16 conference

I’ve also shared some of my learnings from the 2 conference tracks I moderated. See