What did you see?  The world is divided into two groups of people; those who see “Opportunity is Now Here” and those who see “Opportunity is Nowhere”.  Were you even paying attention?!

Alternatives  hosted a Think Tank on September 12th  “Managing cultural change required to become a truly digital organisation”  which was moderated by Niamh Scannell and Marina Meehan; experts in cultural transformation.

Fear, lack of understanding and poor communication were identified as the three most common barriers to becoming a truly digital organisation.   All agreed that there was not an Executive Board in existence that didn’t believe in the importance in digital transformation but there is a huge difference between the CEO who sees it as an exciting opportunity and those who see it as a challenge to overcome.

Leaders at the head of the organisation must “lead from the mountain”, clearly outlining the mission and energising the organisation. The importance of focus and commitment was passionately discussed; you will need to do this again and again, you may need to change your language or approach, but you’ll have to stick with it and maintain energy. Finding “Leaders Without Title” – “Opportunity-is-Now- Here-types” at all levels of your organisation who will approach the mission with optimism and belief – can transform your culture. They need to be celebrated and encouraged. And similarly, those who are negative and unhelpful must to be challenged.

Sharing results along the journey is essential.  Applaud the small wins. Be open about failure, without fear, and celebrate the learnings. Remember your colleagues (particularly your CEO) are time poor. Make it succinct and use simple language. Talking of your CEO, remember to use their language. If share price is what he/she cares about, how could this result translate into improved share price? 

Forget ‘Education’. Whatever you do, don’t use a trainer or a classroom! Millennials instinctively understand micro-learning and organisations should follow their example. Learning should be continuous, interactive, bite-size and peer-to-peer.

Think about how you learn yourself; nuggets revealed on Twitter or LinkedIn, two excellent points a speaker made, something someone mentioned in a meeting (or an Alternatives Think Tank!)   and find ways to encourage your teams to share with each other.

Ironically, the organisations that need to embrace digital transformation the fastest,  where transaction and acquisitions have already  migrated (e.g. finance, utilities, media) tend to be the more traditional businesses. This presents a major challenge, with traditional structures and value systems and long tenures. Digital leaders will need to balance the benefits of a centralised team in harnessing creativity and learning against the benefits of embedding team members throughout the business. 

This is a journey. The mission is not the end. Transformation is infinite. Opportunity is Now Here.


Vivien McKechnie