Anders Lange – The road from digital transformation to digital strategy (Part 1)

Business, Know-how Sharing, Marketing, People

I want to talk about how you get from digital transformation to digital strategy because, as many think, it is not the same: digital transformation is what happens before you get to digital strategy. Transformation is where you prepare your company for what it means to have and execute a digital strategy without major issues. Therefore, the better prepared you are, the better you can execute. Digital transformation involves seven key elements to be successful: Experience, people, Change, Innovation or lack of, leadership, culture and Education

1. Experience

We all know that experience is needed to lead the digital transformation, but what type of experience? This is a very important question to ask the management team, because the experience must reflect the need of your engine more then anything else. I do not say this lightly, but experience with digital transformation is not necessary what is needed. Digital transformation is no different then any other transformation process, so just remember if you have someone within your company who has the respect and knowledge to lead a new transformation, he or she might be the best choice.

2. People 

Digital transformation is an organizational transformation as well. The transformation begins with the people around you, so start by looking to your right, what you are about to do might cost that person his or her job. At least that is what a lot of people within the organization will think.

It will be even more obvious when you start looking into how you are currently build as organization. You will break down old jobs and create new ones. You will change department structures and that will make people think about their job and current situation. Respect the people and create an atmosphere of clear communication and trust just because their have earned it.

You can implement anything you like, but without the people to support those implementations, they will not be used. You need to create ambassadors within every department that will be affected, no matter how big or how small. It is also important you identify who is not your fan and is likely to work against you or, worse, do nothing at all.

People will always be the key driver to transformation, and they need you to show them respect and a forum to communicate.

3. Change

The one constant in the world is change. Do not try to fight it, it is a guaranteed lost battle and a lost war. Build your company around change and make that a natural state of business. It is already part of your business, one can see it every day and can feel it when walking through the halls of the company. It is natural for people to switch jobs or to be laid off. People get promoted, but also get demoted.  You see it in the IT system that you are using, from the larger systems like ERP or minor E-mail programs. Change is already part of your company, so do not hide from it. Create systems that help and support your management and employees to handle and be prepared for the changes. Create an employee council, so you can understand how the change affected your employees on short and long term. Build a culture for change, your employees and management already live in change, so help them adapt to it and learn.

4. Innovation or lack of

Let’s just start by saying innovation is not transformation; with that said, we split innovation in two categories: internal and external innovation.

“The introduction of new products and services that add value to the organization” – Kevin McFarthing

Now let’s kill the myth that says innovation is about being a front runner or always using the latest software, because that is not true. Innovation is about bringing new things to the consumer or organization.

Talking about internal innovation, we refer to product and services that are not necessarily innovative in the world perspective, but for you as a company.

External innovation is when you bring something new to the world. It might be new products, functions or services that are currently not part of the world. It could also be new ways of doing things internally in the organizational or functions that have never been seen or done.

Why are we talking about those to type of innovations? Well, because there is always a risk when it comes of digital transformation. When we are operating an internal innovation, we have tons of cases to build ROI or own cases on. It means the risk is small because we can draw from others’ experience. When we then talk about external, we are talking about bringing services, products or process to the world, and that brings the transformation in a higher group of risk.

Think about what type of innovation you bring to the world. It will affect your risk and how you will address your transformation.

5. Leadership

Like anything else, leadership needs to be in front. With the right leaders in the management team, transformation goes a lot easier. Leaders are like the oil that makes everything run right.

Choosing the right person to lead your transformation is a key factor, but what matters more, leadership or experience? We would rather work with someone that is a great leader and can make things happen within the organization. Experience can help guide the project but that is why you have someone outside the organization, like consultants, to help you. The leader is better just because he can align the organization for the transformation.

You need to find the natural leaders within your organization and make them part of your transformation process. Why natural leaders and not authority leaders? Well, it is simple, authority leaders might not be the best leaders and, in the worst case, they are the ones that will work against you. Natural leaders will create for the transformation a natural backup that will last longer.

6. Culture

Culture includes everything you just read. It is the people you work with every day and interact with. The way people talk and act. It is the symbols within your company. It is how your organization acts when it comes to change and how willing it is to adapt to the changes. I could spent all day talking about what cultures is, but I do not have the time, nor is it relevant right now.

Let’s keep it simple: culture is how the wheels or gears are turning and how it all is put together. You need to have a culture that is fit for change and transformation. You might have to adapt your transformation to the culture just because culture is so complex.

7. Education

Digital transformation, and transformation in general, is truly a journey of education. For every step you take on your journey, you need to share information and what is learned with the rest of the organization. Education is the way to break down barriers and create common goals. Education drives knowledge, understanding and unity. Set up systems that will allow you to share information and educate your organization about what has happened, what is going to happen and what is the result. Focus on the human side of the change more the financial.

About Anders:

Anders Holmberg Lange is the Co-Founder of Entername, a company with the core belief that strategy should be simple, understandable and evolving. Designing 360 digital campaigns and leading selected clients from digital transformation to digital excellence in Marketing, business and sales.

Anders has been working with major global brands the last 15 years, taking them from digital transformation to digital strategy to digital excellence and delivering double digits growth rates across the board. He worked in industries like fashion, banking, entertainment and for leisure companies. No matter there were fortune 500 companies or startups, Anders was always building around a gamification approach creating win-win strategies.