Pledges often ring hollow, cluttered with industry jargon and lofty paradigms that serve more as distractions than solutions. When an organization takes a shortsighted vertical approach to their digitalization journey instead of embracing more comprehensive horizontal tactics, even the savviest c-level executives will find themselves perfectly set up for failure.
In their insightful book, Tribal f*cks Up Digital, Klaus Imping and Michael Ciatto offer a no-nonsense look at some of the most common technology traps associated with digital transformations. By understanding how to avoid these pitfalls, readers will better comprehend the negative consequences they may experience when they are blinded by buzzwords or seduced by the appeal of a well-intentioned, yet convoluted business process shortcut.
Below, we discuss the dangers associated with all talk and no action as well as what happens when there is a singular technology focus fueled by trendy axioms.
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Innovation is alluring. While many organizations can adequately state their requirements, outline a business case and evaluate an approach to unilaterally address their current pain points, the true bottlenecks happen when imprudently trying to resolve one legacy-based shortcoming at a time.
Instead of solving for a true end-to-end digital transformation, organizations get trapped in the dangerous "legacy trap”, a metaphorical barrier of inconsistent processes and rudimentary digital tools. So how can these dangerous pitfalls be avoided? Let’s explore a simple three-step approach:
1. Keep it Real: Unmask the genuine issues within your business. Be realistic about what you’re solving for and how this transformation ties back to your strategic objectives and impacts of the gaps you have identified. Crafting a focused problem statement makes your solutions’ requirements more achievable.
2. Roll Up Your Sleeves and Get to Work: Involve contributors from various levels in your organization. By asking folks at multiple levels to be main contributors, change management becomes a collective, collaborative and iterative process. A singular A-team will find themselves working together on the business instead of only considering their individual roles or impacts.
3. Look Out, Not Up: Empower your team to invent a new operating model by thinking through all dimensions and their subsequent consequences — including the overall organization and possibility of rescaling its resources. By surveying the overall comprehensive picture, organizations will soon realize a cross-siloed digital business process transformation requires a 90-degree turn in perspective: from vertical to horizontal.
Tackling Technology Before It Tackles You
It may seem counterintuitive, but when it comes to the digitalization journey, technology is usually not the root issue. Instead, the real stumbling blocks tend to occur within the processes and workflows associated with the operational aspects of the technology.
When organizations do not take the time to understand the actual meaning of the terms, products and processes that define their current business model, that’s when the real trouble begins. In other words, digital transformation garbage in will most definitely equal digital transformation garbage out, especially when concepts do not have substance behind them.
How can this dangerous pitfall be avoided? With good old fashioned critical thinking.
1. Define before you Deliver: Clear definitions prevent misinterpretations. Throwing around buzzwords without clear definition leaves room for different interpretations and misunderstandings. Without definitions, departments may adapt concepts based on their own vision, resulting in Tribal Processes and siloes further being enabled and systemized.
2. Question Everything: If you don’t understand how a technology specifically relates to your business process or concept, it probably doesn’t. Instead of enabling a technology specific concept, question the transformative aspects of how it will transform your business processes. And if it can’t be explained? That should be fair warning you are about to be tackled by technology, falling into the abyss of buzzwords and poor digital adoption experiences.
Success in digital transformations lies in focusing on processes and people. By relying on thoughtful decision-making rather than leaning on cookie cutter technology solutions, the roadmap for avoiding pitfalls will follow. When organizations seek solutions that fit their unique needs rather than forcing their processes into a one-solution-fits-all approach, everyone wins.
So, take off the blinders, become aware of root causes, and break free from mainstream paradigms. It's time to solve your digital transformation challenges!