How to Get Digital Transformation Right
You speak frequently, at these conferences about digital transformation you're. Constantly, talking to CIOs, and IT leaders, about, their, digital transformation, journeys not, only at the conference's but in one on one call inquiry. Calls or one-on-ones here where. Are they what are some of the issues that they're dealing with right now you. Know, the. Answer to that is actually really surprising, because I would say the opening line, that I get and any inquiry, or any conversation with a client about 95 percent of the time is, Mary. We are undergoing a digital. Transformation or some version you know like a big change a cultural transformation, something and I always respond, you know that's rad what, are you transforming. Into and, then. There's sort of a pregnant, pause you, know like the. Worst answer we ever got so that question was you know we're transforming, into the. Transformation. Which. I know sounds crazy but but, people get really subdued in all the detail of that and it can be hard to keep your eye on the goal the North Star the vision what you're trying to do so, kind of the basic, thing that a lot of clients are struggling with is what. Are we what. Do we want to be when we grow up and why and can we give a message that other people really feel without. That they get transformation, fatigue you know I don't know why we're doing this it's, a long haul I feel like we're always trying with some new initiative, etc so I'd say that's one of the biggest struggles right now and why do you think it's so hard for them to get it right so the first piece you're saying is they may not even realize a bigger picture of why they're doing they jump in yeah. Then there's this bigger you, know what, am i transforming, into but then then why do they get stuck and why are we here, these, digital. Transformations. That fail or stall ya aren't even really proving it out yeah so our data does show that there's a widening, gap between digital. Ambition. And execution, and, that's a problem and people can feel that as fatigue and I think one. Of the things that characterizes a transformation. Is that it's like a collection, of discrete. Initiatives, that are all really hard each one of them I could. Spend my whole life just doing, that thing so in, an IT context. A typical, transformation, might be we. Are moving to digital product management we, are doing an agile transformation. We, are moving to public cloud we, are adopting a common data strategy we. Are doing a customer experience journey you know that's five things and they're all really. Hard, and so people get subsumed, in the complexity, of that and, it can feel really long and laborious and, like you're on this great treadmill, chipping, away at something and you never quite get to a success. Or something, you can really hold on to and say we're there or we've reached, something important, and so I think I think that's where the fatigue comes in right, would you consider those different types of transformations. Or different components. Of transformation, in general well, I think first of all the word is, problematic, right like. Everyone. Says they're on some kind of transformation, some, people might be inventing, whole new businesses, and some, people might be doing an ERP upgrade man, they're using the word transformation, for all of those things all right so yeah so the first thing is really clarifying.
What. Are you trying to be and. Whatever, that is, making. Sure that you have a compelling message associated. With it because if not it's the people beneath the people I talked to who actually have to do the changing, and, a lot of the times transformations. Are characterized, by a hundred. And eighty degrees shift in, behavior we. Used to be command and control now. We want, you to be free and demonstrate. Ownership and feel, accountable and be engaged. And take a risk right and I think executives, underestimate, the degree to which that is hard and dissonant, for people who've, lived their careers feeling, like I have to ask permission I have to get approval if, I stick my neck out I might get my head chopped off and now you want me to be free how does that look how did what does that mean, and so there's sort of not, enough specificity, for people to actually make. A change or take, a step in the direction you want I'm, a culture, change which, you write a lot about in your research and culture hat so I'm going to talk about that a little bit because. Within. These discrete, initiatives. There. You. Know there's some different techniques that that. Leaders, can use right to help with the cultural, transformation yeah, so what can I think, of this is if you think of a transformation, as books on a shelf okay you've got a bunch of books you've got all these discrete initiatives, you know move to a public cloud and digital products management, and agile transformation, and rather all books on a shelf and, it. Can be useful to think of two bookends and a roof for, that that are I would call these the three, magical. Ingredients, that you need for any transformation, to work okay and the, first one is having, a really clear North Star, or end, goal, or vision or. Mission or whatever your, whatever. Your vocabulary is understanding. What you are transforming, into and why and being. Able to tell someone in under two minutes in a way that they care about, right that's ingredient, number one and most most, organizations, really can't do that so you. Know what you don't want is a bunch of corporate, speech right, you know like you don't want what. A client should never do is say, oh you, know Mary this is our transformation, message we are. Transforming. Into a digital first organization, ready for the challenges of the 21st century exploiting. Our ecosystem, of partners in order to deliver agile customer centric innovations, everywhere something, something something synergies. You know like no, that. Doesn't work that's just a bunch of corporate speaker it's all the right word it's it's not wrong it's, just not motivating. Nobody ever got out of bed for corporate speak so that's the and, that's also now talking about the value to the organization. Exactly. Using, booking the business terms right okay, so, what about the second. Ingredient. Yeah yeah. So yeah, booking number one which is you have to have a reason for doing this what do we want to be when we grow up what's the North Star and the rule there the, takeaway is no, corporate speak real words give me something I can hold on, to okay but, then even. If you have that it's kind of too far away for people to connect their day-to-day to so, okay we, want to be the number one in customer experience or whatever that is I don't. Know how that connects to what I do every, day right, and, so one of the things that can help with that is this, roof on top of those books which is. Principles. Which I totally get sounds really boring okay and it sounds great you know analyst II but what I mean are, guardrails.
Rules, Of the game this is how this. Is gonna work these are thresholds. We go up to this line and no further this thing is more important than this other thing because what, can happen is if, it's mushy and you. Have it like a bunch of nice sounding, aphorisms, you. Know like oh we have a principle that there's, no I in team like. That's not bad, that's not wrong that's fine but, that doesn't help someone make a decision, so I think the, next step is can. You give me a clear, principle, that helps, me on the ground maybe four levels, away from, management. Make. A decision, between I don't know speed, and quality or agility. And security, or short term and long term or innovative. Risk-taking, versus, status, quo making sure everything is safe you know these are real decisions, that people have to make and usually there aren't really good principles, associated. With which, one should I prioritize, when and that's when you get all you know what I should do we should have 17,000. Meetings about this and keep, on having the same argument all the time and that's what decelerates, transformations. And least good deed can. You help us with some examples, of good and bad principles, because, I get, the I in team and that sort of thing that I think to make it really concrete, yeah it would be helpful to hear some more all right so here's um -. Typical, principles that I hear all the time that, are. Just really not very good okay so one is oh you, know Mary we have a principle we, want to delight, our customers okay. It. Sounds reasonable but what do I do with that what is delight me and it's totally ambiguous you know it's does. That mean add functionality, does, it mean make it easier does, it mean make it faster does it mean make it cheaper I don't know if, you want to know what happens when you have an unclear principle, just, take out a remote control for a television okay, you got it real control like. Do. You know Heather how, to use each, button, on, your remote control. Don't. Admit it if you know this but it's, not good that's very geeky right nobody, really knows how to use all the buttons and that's because of a design principle, that was really mushy someone. Decided we should fit in all of the buttons we possibly, can when really we don't want that right that's what happens when you don't have something clear. So. Delighting. The customer is you know nice sounding, but, it's not clear I don't know what to do next right or here's another one in. I T we, aim to be high. Value, low cost. Okay. Well you know okay great, that's nice but, again it's like a nice sounding, aphorism, I don't know what to do with that I can't figure, out what decisions, have to be made right so, a good test of whether you have a good principle is could. The opposite be true for somebody else like, is there an anti principle if there is no alternative to what your, it's. Not worth saying, so like would anybody, go out and say oh you. Know what we really, our, principle is we really want to anger our customers, realize what work that, is what we wanted right or oh no we, have a principle that we want to be high, cost low value. Like, of course not right no one would say no but, there's no alternative to what you're saying it's probably not very good so for example a way to make the delight, the customer principal, better would be, if. You're between alternatives, choose the one that is easiest, for the end user okay. Now we know what to do that specific. Yeah exactly, or an architecture, principle you know bad one. Our architecture aims to be flexible and secure well, you know great. And I want to lose weight and eat chocolate you know that's not that helpful it's, better than our. Architecture, games to be flexible insecure but if it comes right down to it we, will prioritize, security, all, right so now we don't have to have 17 meetings about this I know what. Helps it has to happen and that accelerates. Everything which. Matters so, the principles, have, that little, extra specificity. Yes that, adds a bit of priority, exactly. It's hierarchical, it's, now that makes it hard it, requires courage why, are there so many anemic, principles, because. They're, great for anybody who wants to do whatever they want and sound good mm-hmm, right but, if you really want people to make a good decision in a coherent, way across. All those discrete initiatives, you, have to do something courageous, which is say this, thing is more important than this other thing even though they're both important, right and that's that's really tough that's why they're rare right but that drives actual.
Transformation, And change yeah, and it accelerates, it. Accelerates, it and that matters because our. Team goes around and talks to executive, leadership teams all over the place all, over the world and I have literally never met a CEO, who, said to me Mary, you. Know our biggest problem, is the, transformation, is just going too fast you know like I just wish it would slow they're not ever saying, that right and so anything is going to accelerate the change is, a good thing and, putting clear, markers, and guardrails, in the, past so people know it's this not that really helps as opposed to picking from a buffet we want to be agile and secure and efficient. And operationally. Excellent and that's not useful right, right. So, these and opportunities. That we've been talking about in the keynote here are good but to add them into your actual plans. You need some of these principles at that specificity, yeah and I acted on and I think the and the, and opportunities, and the principles are about what the customer wants, the everything, customer, you know we have to design something for a bunch of competing. Possibly. Contrary. Characteristics. And that is reality but, internally. What will help with that is I think a little bit of prioritization. In guiding, people you, know if we're choosing between alternatives, choose the one that makes the boat go faster not, choose, the one that makes the growth boat go faster and is also secure and safe and cheap and high quality and you know that's right that's hard now. Imagine, we have these principles in place and we're moving forward but there's another area, that you write a lot about which. Is culture yes, and culture, is hard to move right, because it's embedded and, people, are used to working the way they've been working yes, and as you transform, you're often creating business models, that are unfamiliar, and, I you know requires. Change management when it comes to people you. Know people are hard to yeah transform, yes maybe harder than tech you know business or technical our, culture, hacking and some, of the techniques that you've written, about in your research, yeah that so the. Thing if we think of those books on the Shelf right all the big all the big initiatives that were undertaking, we've got the first thing which is what do we want to be when we grow up in Hawaii and is that compelling is, that something that's not corporate speaking people really know the. Second thing is there other principles to guide the effort right but, then even, if you have that which would be a flying leap for most organizations right, even if you drive gotten you get an A+ you. Still have words on a page okay it's a slick PowerPoint, presentation, at this point maybe you've stood up and said it in a town hall it's. Not real yet and, that is where the third ingredient comes in on the other side which is culture. Hacking hack the culture to, make all of this change you want real. Visceral. Immediate. Tangible, now. And. So the thing about culture, hacking is it's not all the heavy lifting boil, the ocean change, which you. Have to do you, have to do that too but. I think, leaders, systematically. Leave on the table the, smaller actions that, could have just as big an impact but. Are left on the table because they're small so. I like hacking like taking a small, portion. Of the of the culture where you say this, point of the culture is vulnerable. To change open to change let's hack that for example meetings. Emails. Town, homes communications. Of any kind the intranet the. Layout of an office the layout of an event those, are all ways of hacking. Towards what you want, so. If you want everything, to be about the customer experience that, needs to be inserted into real meetings, in people's day-to-day so like a typical hack well not a typical hack one.
Hack That I saw for a Swedish manufacturing, company was. A VP. Of customer experience walks, into a, meeting room with. An egg timer you know like the plastic primer, okay. Sets. It to 15 minutes sits it on the table. And. Everyone goes ah sir why do you have that and he goes don't worry about this just frizzy 15. Minutes in the, timer goes off and. The. VP of customer experience gets, up to leave and everyone in the room is like but Sir we had an hour with you we were really hoping to discuss. Some more things and he says I have. Been in this meeting for 15 minutes no, one's yet use the word customer I'm, struggling to see the value all, right good, no I'm not suggesting everybody, do that that could be potentially, suicidal in, certain cultures all right so you have to be brave, but not foolish, in culture, hacking it's a double-edged sword but. That's, what I mean about instantiating. This idea, out, there abstract. We're gonna culture we're, gonna be customer. Focused or, we're gonna be focused, on the customer experience into. Real meetings, because if you don't insert, it right it'll just stay as some theoretical, aspiration. That doesn't become true I like. That courageous but foolish, attack. To share with us, let's. Hear Mary's top three hacks believer. It hacks okay so this is gonna show that I really I'm kind of mean, at heart okay this, is like a hacker, rage it's not Forge yes, possibly these are mold okay so here's what so, mean. It imagine you have a meeting culture, where people, are really siloed, okay, and they're not really collaborating. Very well and, in meetings people aren't really paying attention to other people's stuff okay, so, you, said I have to fix that and, you. Could start the meeting go remember guys what we want to be as collaborative. And, engaged and not siloed and you know that might work or you, could do a hack this, is a real hack that was done leader. The meeting stands up and says new, rule, the. Note taker for this meeting will, be named. At the end of the meter. Which. Is like so me because, you have to afraid attention in order, to take the notes right and you won't know if you're the one who's gonna be taking the notes until, the end so, that's, kind of a favorite one of mine even though it's me, other. Ones I like, rituals. Rules. Because, they happen to perpetuate, themselves over, time so little changes that instantiate. The, identity, you're looking for so there's. A cio in the UK who. Every. Time they were all co-located, which makes this easier okay every, time that. A, they. Move to a new system, the. Team would take a piece of physical piece of the old system. And, would. Go. Outside, dig. A hole, bury. It cover. It up with dirt literally, literally, and then and then go in and have tea and cake and this is like there's a thing they did right and it was so much better than going remember, we're really innovative really good right it was just a way of marking, this. Has happened we, need to celebrate the success this is a ritual we do you know it's not gonna be useful, rules. Are really good because they're self-sustaining, like an. Innovation, director, who said you, can work on any idea you want I have one rule you are not allowed. To ask me for approval, you are, not allowed not, it's ok be free go for it take ownership like, you're not allowed I'm going to not, allow it I'm gonna assume you have good judgment and what you're working on is good for the company right, as it puts it into your, authority. Yeah. Change. That says when, I talk about ownership and accountability and, taking, the initiative and going forth and trying I mean this right. I mean don't come and ask me for approval just go do it right so making it real and tangible and visceral for people that's great, yeah we, are about to take questions for, Mary so if you have any post them in the comment section, and she's.
Gonna Take them okay so. We got your top culture, hacks which is great, where. Where. Do companies go wrong with culture hacking, when, they don't get it right or, they take the wrong approach okay, so companies. Get it wrong a lot. Here's. A great culture fact a great culture hacked should be actionable that means it should be easy to share okay, hopefully it goes viral because what you want is to hurt to propagate itself without you having to do it every time okay it, should be low, effort. Okay. No effort means you should be able to design and execute a hack in under 48 hours in like 95%, of cases okay really this, is where clients go wrong they program mom it's right yes they over they do overkill, right they do heavy lifting instead, of what this is supposed to be is is, easy. Low. Various entry in vast quick, as the counterpoint, to all the heavy lifting you have to do so. So. You know I've had a lot of clients will come up and say Mary. We, have a great hack we, are going to redesign our enterprise, architecture, you, know which is that's, like a great, idea that raise worthy laudable good not, a hack right all right we are going to transformation that's a total transformation in and of itself right that's hard it's long or we're. Gonna come up with a whole new performance, management system like okay that's a great idea probably, necessary not. A hack right or we're, gonna redesign our corporate governance again, high. Effort that's a lot of people a lot of time so where, companies, get it wrong a lot and and. It public sector agencies and everybody is basically. Kind. Of becoming mushy about low effort versus high effort change yeah and they do things that are too big yeah it's, good to keep in mind yeah. I think when you think back sometimes, you think oh I'm gonna have to sit down and plan this and three, to six months from now and butthat quick rapid, yeah. Yeah. And there is another way they go wrong which is um. They. Don't have a shared common goal so, they'll use this and kind of weaponize, it so they'll say.
This. Actually happened to me one time I was talking about culture hacking with a client and they, came back and said I'm so, glad you told me about hacking meri I'm just gonna go fire those ten people you. Know, Mary said Mary from Carter's they'd be like no no no you're not allowed to do illegal things you're not allowed to skip, due process, right what you want is is. Some. Shared common, goal that everybody is hacking two wards it's not permission to skip the rules sure, right so that's the other thing that people can get, wrong and that can be fairly toxic you know if you're having to push a personal, agenda that is not a shared pool that. Can actually end up blowing, up in your face more, than helping, got, it okay. You ready for some viewer questions yes. All right Lam from France asks, what, are the main reasons, for a failure in two transformations. Oh gosh. There's so many main. Reasons. For a failure and digital transformation, okay number one a lack, of definition, about what we are transforming, into as I said at the beginning okay. Here's. The test I think you need to pass it's. A hard test but it's a simple test okay if, you're crafting, a message about. Digital, transformation, and you, want it to be clear and sticky enough for people to actually care you, need to be able to do these five things okay, number one tell. Me what you're transforming into and why is the number two can, you tell me that in under two minutes, number, three can, you do that using no corporate speak like real words right, number, four, can, you do that in a way that is comprehensible. And motivating. To the frontline, not. To the leadership team they're, paid to think about this to. The frontline the people who have to actually do the changing, right and, finally, would. Your peers say roughly what you just said, even. If they use different words so you know it's okay if the. Department of Finance is using a language of numbers or the. Department of HR, is using the language of talent acquisition and performance management that's okay what. Is not okay is cultural. Schizophrenia you know we're doing this to be more secure oh no, wait we're agile oh no wait more innovative oh no wait more digital oh no wait more operationally, excellent right because, that trickles, down to the lower levels and they just collectively, shrug and go right.
They Don't really seem to know what they want so that's permission, to do wait for it what, I did yesterday right, so, that's a reason for failure that is a fundamental. If, you don't have that you can't really you can't really get out of the gate. Another. One is equating. Complicated. With, worthy, you. Know like in order for this to be worthy it has to be really complicated you. Know I have to show a lot of Chevron's. And a 300 slide deck and, there has to be like a you know lots, and lots of spreadsheets, right I think a lot of corporate. Cultures. Equate. Complicated. With worthy like I've been gonna show this to my manager it's got a show that I was diligent and thus it has to be really really complicated, and I think that slows down execution. And people lose the plot and then lose the motivation and, then yeah, you know it just loses steam they don't get it back to that two minutes and be able to rely on it so that they can read article eight exactly, exactly okay, question. Two we Carlos, from Norway asks, does culture hacking have to be run by a jar no. Culture, hacking does not have to be run by HR I talked to loads of clients and all sorts of domains who, are hacking where. It from wherever they are now, the, larger, stuff it really does matter when. You're up against a systemic obstacle, okay a systemic, obstacle, cannot be hacked okay. So so. What's. An example right, a systemic obstacle, is something that is built into the model okay. For example if. You're in a law firm and. Someone. Comes up with this big transformation. Message that is we are gonna collaborate and co-create, okay. And. The. Lawyers are billing by the hour, everybody's, billing by the hour you. Are not going to get the collaboration, in co-creation you want it's, not because people are evil cycles, they don't want to it's because it's a systemic obstacles, built into the model they build by the hour they can't write, and, so where, you find a systemic obstacle, you often have to involve HR, or other departments, in order to and, hacking, won't help, without but.
Certainly Hacking can start in any part of the organization. It's just it'll often uncover these larger obstacles that then yes you need to have you, know a lot of collaboration, with other other areas interesting. So. What would be your final, piece of advice for. Organizations. As they're looking on looking. At taking on a digital, transformation to. Just get started in what in in finding, that North Star determining. Their purpose and then. Articulating. It into sentence and it sounds obvious it's not easy if it was easy one way people would do it and are any of us should we've ever worked on a mission statement or any of that isn't, so painful, yes it's so hard in it in it and it can feel exasperated. And exhausting, my, advice is start, before you're ready. Before. You're ready like. If you're roughly 75%, of the way start. Try, it socialize. It just get started because I think, companies are overthinking. A lot of this and. Some. Things you need to overthink you know if you're running a nuclear power plant I'm hoping you're gonna really, think, about it before you you, do but a lot of what, organizations. Do is. Doesn't. Need that much planning, and so or. At least not as much as people are using so I think my advice would be start before you feel ready because. If you wait you're probably gonna be late right. Okay. I can't say too this one because we did get another one in Hydra, from Morocco, asks, is enterprise, architecture, still a good idea for digital teams oh my gosh that's such an unfair. Okay enterprise, architecture and digital transformation, is that a good idea, okay, so. Enterprise. Architecture is another one of those terms that is, really big it, means all sorts of things dollars to people so for some people it's actual, like, it's akin to business strategy and the underlying processes, and how they're gonna work right for other people it's choosing, a set of technical standards that are gonna help scale and keep, the systems performant, okay so it's one of those dangerous terms that can be really, really. Vague. Right. I. Guess. More than enterprise architecture, what I think matters or where I think where I think this question is going is what, about pace of change like can you really bake in a bunch, of things that are going. To potentially. Hinder the pace of change and make it impossible to innovate or go outside the boundaries or, do something new and there, I think it really matters that you, recognize, different. Different. Paces in different degrees so, some, things. Are. Reversible. And if they're super reversible, just, try them right. Don't this is a bit like this, would be like real architecture, okay if you're if you're building a house a good. Architect will sit down and say Heather. I want you to think about how. You're gonna move around this house like, what. Is it gonna look like to, move around this house because. You. Need to be thinking. A lot about where you want outlets electrical. Outlets right because after the fact it's gonna be really difficult for you to sit down on yourself and go oh I want, to charge my phone here and I don't have an outlet that's gonna be extremely, expensive, hard to reverse okay on, the other hand. If. You were having an eight hour long discussion about paint on the walls like what color it should be a good architect is gonna say Heather. Just. Choose wine cuz we can repaint, it, I might cost a little bit of money but it's not that, hard to reverse right, and so, I think the thing to distinguish, the. Really important thing to distinguish between our, reversible.
And Non reversible decisions, you know outlet, decisions, and paint on the wall decision so you're not taking everything and treating it like an outlet decision because that'll get in the way of digital transformation and, everything has to be examined. To the nth degree and this is why I say start. Before you're ready a lot, of the decisions are paint on the walls decisions, you can reverse them so get going that's, great thank, you so much more pleasure okay really quickly how. Many IT Gartner, IT symposia, have you attended this. Is going to age me dramatically, but I gotta say. Dozens. And dozens I, want I don't know maybe. Yeah. Like 45. Where, you, are we tell each of us what. New city should our conference this team think of launching woman. Well. This. Is like a personal choice but I'm kind of in love with blue depeche so maybe that would be a good place. That's. A good like the best and finally. What's your one piece of advice for attendees to get the most out if Gardner at a symposium axe back okay, Gardner right II suppose New Mexico my piece of advice is very practical, bring. A sweater. Oh yes literally a 10 degree difference, between rooms outside inside, bring, a shawl bring a sweater you will need it you will thank me that's, my advice that's, great Mary, this has been terrific thank you so much thank you for your time pleasure thank you for joining us, visit. Us I'm smarter with gardener for live coverage will be having it all week during garden IT symposium, Expo thanks for joining us. You. You.