Oct. 12, 2018 | InBrief

Change is at the heart of digital, and the first mile of your journey

Change is at the heart of digital, and the first mile of your journey

West Monroe  released our signature research on an important topic, Digital Leadership. Surveying and curating insights from 407 business leaders on sixteen different elements of digital maturity, this report highlights key characteristics of digitally mature organizations seeking to increase revenue, growth, and profits in today's dynamic markets.

I was proud to contribute to this research as an Organizational Change Management expert and leader in my firm. At the heart of digital is change. As our research stresses, digital is inherently disruptive because it challenges the current ways of thinking and working to engage your customers and run your business. Today's leaders and workforces are in a race to imagine new capabilities and competencies that result in continuous customer loyalty and exceptional employee engagement.

At West Monroe, we define Digital as "applied technology that changes business conditions, creates an adaptive culture, and uses data to scale and grow." Each component of this definition on its own seems to generate a positive reaction. However, you put all three together - technology, culture, and data - and suddenly, that feels like a lot of change to handle at one time.

In my experience supporting clients on a digital journey, their people - employees and customers - are the key to their Digital Transformation success. No matter how much you invest in it, technology alone cannot drive change. It is the people applying that technology that makes change happen. Your people shape your culture to thrive in change or shut down in change. Employees and customers need to understand the value and what is in it for them to go on this journey, and they look to their leaders to give them a sound digital vision and roadmap.

That is why we believe strongly that change management is the "first mile" of every digital transformation journey. Like any journey in life, you must have a clear vision for where you want to go, how you want to progress, and what success looks like after you get there. Companies and leaders can spend a fortune on the latest technologies, but if their people don't understand how this helps them, supports the vision, or how to properly use the tools, a return on investment will never be realized. Enter Digital Change.

To set out on this journey successfully demands deep capabilities in leadership and cultural alignment to a vision for digital. In times of uncertainty and uncharted paths, a workforce will look to its leaders to see the behaviors demonstrated. Without an upfront azimuth check and clarity of both vision and values, your organization could launch in the wrong direction. And faced with the increased pace of change, this could set you back for years.

Digital requires leaders who are comfortable with uncertainty and believe in the power of disruptive technology and day one thinking to keep moving forward. Digital change leaders launch capabilities and help build competencies while charting a new way, along the way. They know they cannot do it all themselves. It takes humility and curiosity and charisma to guide and develop a strategic vision and enlist others to help communicate it across the organization. Leaders must nurture teams of digital achievers.

Digital change leaders help align talent across every business function and geography, spotting opportunities for cross-training and internal innovations. Digital change leaders should be champions of Digital Centers of Excellence, Digital Communities of Practice, and Innovation Labs. These are the places and spaces where experimentation and learning will be celebrated as you grow your future generation of leaders with the 'go-to' knowledge and leading practices. As you think about your journey ahead in digital, lead with change. Reach out to us if you would like to have a conversation about Digital Change.

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