Digital Leaders Blog

Digital Leaders (12)

Digital Nation Round Table

I have been invited to participate in a Scottish Business Insider/BT Digital Nation Round Table this coming Friday, being held at the University of Strathclyde's new Technology Innovation Centre (TIC). 

A number of challenging questions have been presented to provide focus to the discussion.

Friends and colleagues will know that I have strong views on most of the issues listed below which I will be expressing on the day.

I would be interested in your own thoughts and comments which I will be happy to communicate to the group.

If you would like to comment, please do so on Linkedin at Digital Nation Round Table.

  • Is Scotland's digital ambition/strategy ambitious enough? What can we learn from other small countries?
  • How can we keep pace with digital disruption in the economy?
  • Is the focus too narrow, does a digital agenda need to be driven out across the policy spectrum?
  • What should digital transformation in the public sector look like?
  • Are national targets required and what metrics can be used to measure progress?
  • Is it deliverable? What are the barriers and how can they be overcome?
  • What cultural shift or behavioural change is needed to bring about the scale of reform needed?
  • How do we instil trust with the public at large on how the public sector manages cyber resilience and the use of personal data?
  • Is the pace of change fast enough? How do we ensure no one is left behind?

An edited transcript of the Round Table will appear in the March/April issue of Insider.

Thanks and take care.

ps - my own thoughts on the questions listed above have been expressed in a number of previous blog posts - please see https://www.linkedin.com/in/drjimhamill/detail/recent-activity/posts/

Jim H

 

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Another excellent article from Brian Solis and one very relevant to our ‘Leading Digital Change’ 2018 Masterclass series.

The core theme of the article can be summarised as follows:

  • Digital transformation is more than just digital. It is about modernising and future-proofing your organisation. First and foremost, successful digital transformation is about people and culture, not technology.
  • Many organisations continue to struggle with implementing successful change programmes. Digital change agents have a critical role to play in accelerating progress - the unsung heroes of every successful digital transformation.
  • The challenge is whether executives can find and empower them to bring the organisation together around unified digital initiatives.

The traits of a digital change agent, as explained by Brian, are highly relevant to Future Digital Leaders.

  • Change agents are early adopters of digital, wishing to help their companies modernise.
  • They may start as digital advocates developing over time into experienced business transformers.
  • They have the courage to step outside the ‘norm’, helping others to modernise and innovation.
  • The work done by digital change agents may lead to uncoordinated, disjointed efforts across the organisation, but this will establish a solid foundation for more formal initiatives to gain momentum.
  • Change agents act as catalysts helping to push forward the transformation agenda. However, while some may be born leaders, many are reluctant agents of change, lacking the management expertise to handle obstacles to progress, especially the political and cultural aspects of organisational life.

The article identifies four main types of digital change agent as summarised in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1: Digital Change Agents

Source: Solis, 2018

The full article can be accessed here - Change Agents: The unsung heroes of digital transformation

Highly recommended reading for Future Digital Leaders.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Jim H

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The 8 Types of Company Culture


Our previous blog post argued that people, organisation and culture NOT technology have become the main barriers to successful digital transformation. Many digital change initiatives faiI because of an over-emphasis on technology at the expense of people.

In the interesting video below, researchers from Harvard Business School present eight types of organisational culture with implications for digital change. management. Please click on the image to view the video.

Source: The 8 Types of Company Culture

Take care.

Jim H

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Key Questions for Digital Leaders

“CEOs and their teams are now much more aware of the impact of digital technology on their businesses. However, most struggle in successfully implementing digital transformation. The challenge for many large firms is not so much where to put the investment (The What) but more on how they adapt their organisations to gain competitive positions (The How).”

Source: Didier Bonnet (2017)

As we move from the WHY to the HOW of transformation for the digital era, it is critical for organisations to follow a planned, strategic approach to ‘getting there’; a strategic approach fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives. An approach recognising that successful transformation is first and foremost about people - customers, employees, partners and other stakeholders. Technology is a key enabler of change, but on its own it is not enough.

‘Stop and Reflect’ Questions for Digital Leaders

November will be a busy month for us delivering Executive Programmes in Digital Leadership in Iceland, Italy, Malta and Edinburgh.

In preparing for these sessions, we have updated our ‘Transformation Toolkit’ to take account of the rapid pace of digital change taking place.

Session participants will work through a number of ‘Stop and Reflect Exercises’ covering the key steps involved in developing, implementing and proactively managing a digital transformation strategy for their own organisation.

In total, there are 25 top level questions to be addressed across five main topic categories:

Digital Landscape Analysis

Hyper awareness of the digital landscape, the disruptive technologies and associated societal changes reshaping your industry, is a key trait of a successful digital leader.

  • What are the key technologies and societal changes threatening to disrupt your industry?
  • How big will the impact be (‘the size of the bang’) and over what time-period will your industry be disrupted (‘the length of the fuse)?
  • How will digital disruption impact on your own organisation – opportunities and threats?
  • What progress has been made in responding - how big is the ‘gap’ between your organisation’s current level of digital maturity and where you should be?
  • How are similar organisations responding, who is ‘leading digital’ in your industry, who is the exemplar of best practice?

‘External’ Digital

In an era of constantly connected, empowered customers, adopting an ‘outside in’ customer-led approach is critical to successful transformation. Unfortunately, too many organisations have focused on digitising rather than transforming existing processes, thereby failing to meet the rising expectations of Gen C (the constantly connected generation).

  • Have you mapped the customer journey with your organisation?
  • How well are you currently using technology to deliver exceptional customer experiences at ‘Key Moments of Truth’ in the customer relationship; what scope for improvement exists?
  • Benchmarked against accepted best practice, what progress has your organisation made in social media marketing, real time customer engagement and social customer service; what scope for improvement exists?
  • Has your organisation implemented best practice Content Marketing?
  • What progress has been made in delivering actionable insight from social media listening, customer data and predictive analytics (is your organisation GDPR compliant)?

‘Internal’ Digital

Current and emerging digital technologies provide exciting opportunities for organisations to rethink the way they operated, the way they work, breaking free from the limits imposed by outdated legacy systems. Embedding technology at the core of everything your organisation does can streamline internal systems and processes, improve efficiency, reduce costs, becoming a more agile, fast-moving data driven business, ‘fit-for-purpose’ in a digital age.

  • Have you mapped the main productivity busters, bottlenecks and frustrations in your organisation?
  • What scope exists for leveraging current and emerging technologies for overcoming these bottlenecks, building Digital Operating Advantage (improved systems, processes, efficiency, costs, speed of response, data etc)?
  • How well is your organisation utilising enterprise social tools for reducing the burden of excessive e-mail, supporting collaboration and knowledge sharing, internally and externally with business partners?
  • What progress has been made in deriving actionable insight from the wealth of data held by your organisation; do staff have access to modern, visual-based, self-service Business Intelligence software, or are your BI needs still centrally controlled by IT?
  • Does your organisation suffer from a legacy IT problem, a legacy management problem or both?

Strategy and Performance Measurement

There will be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the digital age. ‘Winners’ will be those organisations who leverage the full potential of digital technology for driving competitive advantage in at least five key areas: engaging and connecting with customers; building digital operating advantage; deriving actionable insight from data; supporting collaboration and knowledge sharing; business transformation.

  • Does your organisation have an agreed vision and strategy for the digital era; what is it?
  • What are the main objectives, KPIs and targets to be achieved from your digital strategy?
  • Which priority customer segments (including internal customers) are critical to delivering your overall business and digital strategy objectives?
  • What are the key digital actions and initiatives your organisation needs to implement to achieve agreed goals and objectives; how will these be prioritised and matched with resource availability?
  • How will digital performance and organisational impact be measured?

Implementation and Digital Leadership

As we move from the WHY to the HOW of digital transformation, greater attention is now being paid to implementation issues, especially the main barriers and obstacles standing in the way of effective change; how these can be overcome. There is growing acceptance that the main change barriers are organisational, people and cultural related rather than technological; legacy management thinking rather than legacy technology.

  • What are the main obstacles and barriers to successful transformation in your own organisation?
  • What plans are in place to overcome these?
  • Who is ‘leading digital’; do you have a strong transformation leader at the top of the organisation?
  • How will you organise for change?
  • Is your approach to portfolio, programme and project management ‘fit-for-purpose’ in an era of turbulent change?

I look forward to meeting everyone at our forthcoming sessions.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome. I am sure that others may wish to add to this list of questions.

Jim H

Ps – we still have a couple of places available on our Edinburgh Digital Leaders Masterclass. Details here if you would like to attend. Just let me know if you have any queries. Take care. Jim H

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The key to the success – or otherwise – of the government’s digital transformation agenda lies in the gap between how strategy is conceived in Westminster, and how it is realised across Whitehall departments, local councils, and providers of front line public services.

Industry body techUK works with government entities – and the commercial partners who deliver their technology, many of whom are members of the trade association – across the length and breadth of the public sector, from Downing Street through to parish councils.

The organisation has four dedicated public sector programmes: central government; local government; health and social care; and defence. PublicTechnology caught up with techUK’s head of programme for public services, Owen Spottiswoode, to get his thoughts on all aspects of public sector technology, as well as where the government is getting it right – and where it can improve.

Read the full article here

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A new report from the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an initiative of IMD Business School and Cisco, has identified four competencies and three behaviours that business leaders need in order to excel in an era of digital disruption.

The report entiled Redefining Leadership for a Digital Age, presents findings from a global survey of more than 1,000 executives across 20 different sectors.

The vast majority of leaders agree that they are caught in a technology-change vortex that is drawing in whole industries and creating disruption on an unprecedented scale. 92% of those surveyed stated that they are feeling the effects of digital disruption, with one-third rating the impact of digital disruption on their companies as "very significant."

Despite the quickening pace of digital innovation, less than 15% of leaders said that they were "very prepared" to meet the demands of a digitally-disrupted business environment. The majority of participants (almost 80%) indicated that they were "starting preparations" or were "fairly prepared" to tackle digital disruption. Less than 20% of respondents indicated that digital technologies such as analytics, mobile and social media are fully integrated into their organisations with 30% of respondents either rarely or only occasionally using digital tools and technologies

In terms of digital leadership, the report outlines the following "HAVE" competencies as the most important success criteria for senior executives facing a landscape characterised by digital disruption:

  • Humble - In an age of rapid change, knowing what you don't know can be as valuable in a business context as knowing what you do. Digital leaders need a measure of humility, and a willingness to seek diverse inputs both from within and outside their organisations.
  • Adaptable - In a complex and changing environment, an ability to adapt is critical. The global reach of digital technologies has opened up new frontiers for organisations, shrinking once insurmountable continental divides and erasing traditional boundaries between territories. Dealing with the cultural and business impacts of this requires adaptability.
  • Visionary - In times of profound disruption, clear-eyed and rational direction finding is needed. Having a clear vision, even in the absence of detailed plans, is a core competency for digital leaders.
  • Engaged - Painting visions for the future, successfully communicating these visions and being adaptable enough to change them, requires constant engagement with stakeholders. This broad-based desire to explore, discover, learn and discuss with others is as much a mind-set, as it is a definable set of business-focused activities or behaviours

These digitally-engaged executives are called "Agile Leaders" - those who have adapted and evolved their practise for an environment continuously disrupted by digital technologies and business models.

Nearly half (42%) of those identified as Agile Leaders said that they were making more informed business decisions as the result of well-directed data gathering, effective analysis and good judgement.

The three key behaviours which allowed Agile Leaders to successfully navigate disruptive environments are:

  • Hyperawareness: They are constantly scanning internal and external environments for opportunities and threats.
  • Informed decision-making: They make use of data and information to make evidence-based decisions.
  • Fast execution: They are able to move quickly, often valuing speed over perfection.

The report identified the following additional practices that Agile Leaders adopt in a digitally-disrupted business environment:

  • 26% of Agile Leaders use digital tools and technologies frequently, compared with just 7% of non-Agile Leaders
  • 32% of Agile Leaders seek disruptive approaches to deal with challenges (1% non-Agile Leaders)
  • 28% of Agile Leaders use virtual networks and forums (1% non-Agile Leaders)
  • 76% of Agile Leaders encourage their team to challenge their observations and opinions (19.4% non-Agile Leaders)
  • 27% of Agile Leaders make use of business simulations or scenarios to support decisions (1% non-Agile Leaders)
  • 26% of Agile Leaders take risks to speed up execution (4% non-Agile Leaders)

You can access the full report here

The above findings are bound to stimulate detailed debate in our forthcoming Digital Leadership Executive Programmes.

As always, feedback and comment are very welcome.

Jim H

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The UK likes to think of itself as being a world class digital nation. The preamble to this month’s launch of the UK Government’s Transformation Strategy stated:

“The UK Government is one of the most digitally advanced in the world………We have developed the award-winning and internationally renowned GOV.UK - and have opened its code, which has been reused by governments around the world. The Government Digital Service (GDS) has led the digital transformation of government and is a model that is being copied internationally”.

Are we justified in engaging in such ‘happy back-slapping’? Are we really a world class digital nation? If not, who are the leading digital nations around the world? What progress have different countries made in transforming digitally?

Below, we present a short summary of recent research in this area.

The Most Tech-Savvy Governments

Ben Gummer’s claim, quoted above, is based on a 2016 United Nations E-Government Survey which positioned the UK in pole position in terms of both e-government development and e-participation as shown in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: E-Government Development and E-Participation Index

Source: United Nations 2016

The UN rankings are based on three main criteria ‘that allow people to benefit from online services and information’ - adequacy of telecommunication infrastructure, the ability of human resources to promote and use ICT and the availability of online services and content.

In an era of rapid digital change and digital disruption, with rising citizen expectations, is the provision of online services and information still a useful measure of digital advancement? Surely the availability of services online is a ‘table stake’ keeping us in the game. It is no longer an indicator of digital leadership?

The World Economic Forum

A different picture emerges from the World Economic Forum (WEF) which uses a broader range of factors to rank countries on a Network Readiness Index. Ten key pillars of network readiness are assessed - political and regulatory environment; business and innovation environment; infrastructure and affordability; skills; individual usage; business usage; Government usage; economic impacts; social impacts; and e-participation – see here for a detailed explanation of the criteria used.

The most ‘tech savvy’ government, according to WEF, is Singapore followed by the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. When compared with the UN study above, WEF ranks the UK only in tenth position, lower than countries such as Qatar, Malaysia, Estonia and others.

Figure 2: Most Tech-Savvy Governments

With recent announcements in the last few weeks, it is almost certain that Singapore and the UAE will retain their leadership positions for the foreseeable future.

Singapore puts 2017 budget focus on digital transformation - Government sets aside S$2.4 billion over four years to execute a nationwide plan to "transform" the local economy and help enterprises "go digital".

Sheikh Mohammed directs government departments to place Dubai 10 years ahead of all other cities with launch of the 10X vision. "All Government entities to embrace out-of-the-box, future oriented exponential thinking with the aim of being 10 years ahead of all other cities in embracing disruptive innovation".

Harnessing Digital

In terms of countries harnessing the potential of digital technologies for increased competitiveness and well-being, Singapore remains in pole position followed by Finland, Sweden, Norway and the US.

Figure 3: Top 10 Countries Harnessing Digital Technology

While the UK sits in 8th place, the main conclusions of the report make for depressing reading.

According to WEF, the seven countries ahead of the UK are leading the field in terms of ICT investment – they are all 'enthusiastic adopters' currently deriving a wide ranging economic benefits from being digital.

‘These seven nations are in the strongest position to capitalise on the next wave of digital disruption. The breakaway of these seven economies is significant for other nations given the role that networked readiness is likely to play as the world transitions to the Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

The UK ranks in only 16th position in terms of the ‘Business Usage Index’; 14th in terms of ‘Firm Level ICT Adoption’ (the readiness of businesses to adopt new technology); 18th position in terms of the number of patent applications made per million of population; and in 10th position for ‘Capacity to Innovate’.

For investment in ‘Staff Training’, the UK ranks as 21st in the world. We are ranked in 24th position for ‘Overall Skills Development’; 21st position for the ‘Quality of our Education System’; and in 46th position for the ‘Quality of our Math and Science Education’ - a shocking indictment of our willingness to invest in training and people development.

A World Class Digital Nation and the envy of others? I think not!

Falling Behind

Two other studies provide evidence that the UK is falling behind many of our international competitors in key measures of digital readiness.

The EU 2016 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) ranked the UK above the EU average in key measures such as connectivity, digital skills and the integration of digital technology. However, we are growing more slowly than the average. Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland are leading the way, while Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Malta, Austria and Portugal are the fastest growing.

This supports the key findings of a 2015 study published in the Harvard Business Review. The study entitled Where the Digital Economy Is Moving the Fastest evaluated the pace of digital change across countries, perhaps the most important measure in an era of rapid digital disruption.

Four main types of country were identified:

  • Stand Out countries with the high levels of digital development in the past and who continue to remain on an upward trajectory.
  • Stall Out countries who have achieved a high level of evolution in the past but are losing momentum and risk falling behind.
  • Break Out countries with the potential to develop strong digital economies. Though their overall score is still low, they are moving upward and are poised to become Stand Out countries in the future.
  • Watch Out countries who face significant opportunities and challenges, with low scores on both current level and upward motion of their DEI. Some may be able to overcome limitations with clever innovations and stopgap measures, while others seem to be stuck.

As shown in Figure 4 below, the UK is in danger of becoming a ‘Stall Out’ country. This is even before our growing obsession with BITs (Brexit, Immigration, Trump), rather than Bytes, which threatens to Relegate Digital to Side Show Status.

One of the main conclusions of the Harvard paper is highly relevant here:

“Most Western and Northern European countries, Australia, and Japan have been Stalling Out. The only way they can jump-start their recovery is to follow what Stand Out countries do best: redouble on innovation and continue to seek markets beyond domestic borders. Stall Out countries are also aging. Attracting talented, young immigrants can help revive innovation quickly”.

Figure 4: The Digital Evolution Index

The UAE

As a measure of how well an economy is using information and communications technologies to boost competitiveness and well-being, it will be very interesting to watch the position of the UAE over the next few years. Dubai, in particular, is rapidly emerging as a world class digital nation.

Key milestones over the last five years have included:

  • 2011 - introduction of e-payment cards for government services
  • 2011 - e-voting introduced
  • 2013 - all government services to be available through mobile devices and apps
  • 2013 - Smart Government launched – aim to become the world’s smartest city
  • 2014 - Happiness Index launched to measure the happiness and satisfaction of the public with digital public services – aim to be the world’s happiest city
  • Feb 2016 - 1,000 new digital initiatives launched to embrace the Internet of Things
  • May 2016 - world’s first 3D printed office block opened - vision of being a world leader in 3D printing technology
  • April 2016 - 25% of all transportation in Dubai to be smart and driverless by 2030
  • October 2016 - Dubai mandates Blockchain only Government documents by 2020
  • May 2016 - Dubai government services score 89% on the Happiness Index
  • Nov 2016 – become a world leader in Industry 4.0

We could now add to this list, the 10X initiative mentioned above.

See also – Innovating for a New Future in the United Arab Emirates

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Take care.

Jim H

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Ok I know that leadership cannot be ‘taught’, but this Spring I will be 'facilitating' Digital Leadership programmes in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Edinburgh, Glasgow and online in virtual learning land.

With over 30 different nationalities participating across the various locations, it is critical that a global perspective is adopted.

So what progress have different countries around the world made in transforming digitally?

The Most Tech-Savvy Governments

Two of the destinations being visited, the UAE and Bahrain, are listed in the top three countries worldwide in terms of having the ‘most tech-savvy’ governments, according to the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (see here for a short summary).

In pole position is Singapore, a country I have long admired since my many visits there between 1993 and 1996 as Academic Direct of the Strathclyde Business School Masters in International Marketing programme delivered on a Distance Learning basis. Course management and administration was delivered through a combination of fax, telephone and courier delivery of course material. If only we had ubiquitous Internet access then :-)

The UK sits in tenth position lower than countries such as Qatar, Malaysia, Estonia and others.

Figure 1: Most Tech-Savvy Governments

With recent announcements over the last week or so, it is almost certain that Singapore and the UAE will retain their digital leadership positions for the foreseeable future.

Singapore puts 2017 budget focus on digital transformation - Government sets aside S$2.4 billion over four years to execute a nationwide plan to "transform" the local economy and help enterprises "go digital".

Sheikh Mohammed directs government departments to place Dubai 10 years ahead of all other cities with launch of the 10X vision. "All Government entities to embrace out-of-the-box, future oriented exponential thinking with the aim of being 10 years ahead of all other cities in embracing disruptive innovation".

 Harnessing Digital

While it looks as if I may be “teaching” digital leadership to those who are already leading digital, at least as far as the government sector is concerned, a different picture emerges for the economy as a whole.

The countries best harnessing the full potential of digital technology according to WEF are listed below. Dubai and Bahrain are ranked only in 26th and 28th positon respectively. Singapore retains its No.1 spot.

Figure 2: Top 10 Countries Harnessing Digital Technology

As a measure of how well an economy is using information and communications technologies to boost competitiveness and well-being, it will be very interesting to watch the position of Dubai, in particular, over the next few years.

In a previous blog post, we showed how Dubai is rapidly emerging as a world class digital nation. Key milestones over the last five years have included:

  • 2011 - introduction of e-payment cards for government services
  • 2011 - e-voting introduced
  • 2013 - all government services to be available through mobile devices and apps
  • 2013 - Smart Government launched – aim to become the world’s smartest city
  • 2014 - Happiness Index launched to measure the happiness and satisfaction of the public with digital public services – aim to be the world’s happiest city
  • Feb 2016 - 1,000 new digital initiatives launched to embrace the Internet of Things
  • May 2016 - world’s first 3D printed office block opened - vision of being a world leader in 3D printing technology
  • April 2016 - 25% of all transportation in Dubai to be smart and driverless by 2030
  • October 2016 - Dubai mandates Blockchain only Government documents by 2020
  • May 2016 - Dubai government services score 89% on the Happiness Index
  • Nov 2016 – become a world leader in Industry 4.0

Add to this, the 10X initiative mentioned above.

The UK/Scotland

In the UK/Scotland, we like to think of ourselves as being a world class digital nation. For example, the preamble to this month’s launch of the UK Government’s Transformation Strategy stated:

“The UK Government is one of the most digitally advanced in the world…….The Government Digital Service (GDS) has led the digital transformation of government and is a model that is being copied internationally”.

The evidence presented above would suggest that while good progress has been made, we are far from being a world class digital nation. It is too early to engage in such happy back-slapping.

There is growing evidence that the UK is falling behind many of our international competitors in several key measures of digital readiness such as connectivity, digital skills and the integration of digital technology – see the EU 2016 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). While the UK score remains above the EU average, it is growing more slowly than the average. Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland are leading the way, while Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Malta, Austria and Portugal are the fastest growing.

An earlier 2015 study published in the Harvard Business Review arrived at a similar conclusion - Where the Digital Economy Is Moving the Fastest.

The study identified four main types of country in terms of digital capacity:

  • Stand Out countries with high levels of digital development in the past and who continue to remain on an upward trajectory.
  • Stall Out countries who have achieved a high level of evolution in the past but are losing momentum and risk falling behind.
  • Break Out countries with the potential to develop strong digital economies. Though their overall score is still low, they are moving upward and are poised to become Stand Out countries in the future.
  • Watch Out countries who face significant opportunities and challenges, with low scores on both current level and upward motion of their Digital Evolution Index. Some may be able to overcome limitations with clever innovations and stopgap measures, while others seem to be stuck.

 Figure 3: The Digital Evolution Index

In the UK, there is a real danger that our growing obsession with BITs (Brexit, Immigration and Trump) rather than Bytes will drive the UK into a digital ‘Stall Out’ – see our previous blog post Don’t Let Brexit Relegate Digital to Side Show Status.

One of the main conclusions of the Harvard paper is highly relevant here:

“Most Western and Northern European countries, Australia, and Japan have been Stalling Out. The only way they can jump-start their recovery is to follow what Stand Out countries do best: redouble on innovation and continue to seek markets beyond domestic borders. Stall Out countries are also aging. Attracting talented, young immigrants can help revive innovation quickly”.

Unfortunately, we are going completely in the opposite direction.

Food for thought?

All comments and feedback welcome.

Take care.

Jim H

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Managing Digital Transformation

A recent article in the MITSloan Management Review has warned against looking for quick fixes when it comes to managing digital transformation.

In particular, three ‘superficial’ fixes should be avoided at all costs:

  • Avoid creating a transformation office unconnected to the rest of the organization: This will only create a culture of “cool kids” isolated from the rest of the workforce; as well as dismissing individuals already doing valuable transformation work elsewhere in the organization.
  • Avoid digitizing processes without rethinking the organization’s business model: Focusing solely on IT misses the point. A rapidly changing world requires new business models. Meaningful improvement must include transforming how the organization operates not just digitizing existing processes.
  • Avoid just hiring a lone “chief ________officer”: This pins the entire hopes of the organization on one individual. The reality is that organizational transformation is everyone’s responsibility.

Rather than looking for ‘quick fixes’, the article argues that there are three meaningful strategies that will deliver results:

  • Reward delivering results differently and better: Instead of striving to change organizational cultures head-on (an impossible task), the C-suite should actively support and reward those parts of the existing organization already delivering results differently and better. This will act as a catalyst for change.
  • Adapt organizational values and goals to the changing world, don’t just change mission statements: Focus on being nimble and adaptive to achieve agreed outcomes. Delivering results differently and better will ultimately transform organizational cultures.
  • Champion everyone across the organization to be positive change agents: Meaningful change happens across an organization when everyone realizes that anyone can become a change agent. There should be no need to be formally approved as an agent of change.

The six bullet points raised above have major implications for digital transformation initiatives across a broad range of sectors, including the public sector.

You can access the full article here.

Take care.

Jim H

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As digital leaders, it is imperative that we keep up-to-date with current leading-edge thinking in an era characterised by turbulent digital change and digital disruption. Our Digital Leadership Insight series provides an annotated summary of the most recent and insightful reports covering the broad themes of digital disruption, digital transformation and digital leadership.

For the inaugural July edition, we review over 25 papers, books and reports on the ‘State of Digital 2016’.

Five main conclusions emerge from the publications reviewed below:

  • There is now general acceptance across most organisations of the need to transform digitally.
  • While no industry, no organisation, no individual is immune from the threat of being disrupted, there is a growing gap between ‘leading digital’ companies and the rest. 
  • Soft leadership skills, not just technology, are critical to successful transformation.
  • There will be winners and losers in the digital race. A strong positive correlation exists between digital maturity and underlying financial performance.
  • There will be winners and losers too at a governmental and national economy level. Leading digital nations are strongly positioned to capitalise on the next wave of digital disruption. 

You can download Digital Leadership Insights Vol. 1: The State of Digital 2016 here - Digital%20Leadership%20Insights%20Vol%201%20July%202016.pdf

We hope you find the Insight series to be useful. We are always open to suggestions on how to improve this.

Insights Vol. 2, to be published early September, will summarise recent research covering the labour market and employment impact of digital disruption.

Take care.

Jim H

Details of our next Digital Leaders Masterclass in association with the University of Edinburgh Business School can be found here. You can register an interest in attending here.

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Five key propositions emerge from the growing volume of publications on digital disruption and digital transformation.

1. In an era of pervasive digital change, no industry, no organisation, no individual is immune from the threat of being disrupted. Our FSB Digital Disruption Report from December 2015 listed a broad range of sectors under threat. The question is no longer whether your industry will be affected.  The only pertinent questions to ask now are how severe will the impact be (‘bang’) and over what time scale will this take place (‘fuse’) - see our previous post Will Your Industry Be Disrupted, also the Deloitte report entitled Short Fuse: Big Bang.

2. Most organisations remain woefully ill-prepared for the coming digital tsunami. The pace of digital change is taking place at a much faster rate than our ability to adapt. Various reports have warned of a growing ‘strategic gap’ between the digital progress being made by most organisations and where they should be to remain competitive. The challenge is not just a technology one. A wide range of internal barriers need to be overcome before successful digital transformation can take place - especially organisational, people and cultural barriers.

3. There is a growing need for a new breed of senior executive - Digital Business Leaders. Senior executives who can combine high level business knowledge, experience and understanding with the ability to develop digital transformation strategies fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives. Executives with the personal skills and confidence to drive organisational change. Almost every report on digital disruption published over the last three years has pointed to the lack of digital leadership and skills being major barriers to change.

4. The days of the business leader who knows nothing about technology (often proudly claiming that they know nothing about it) are numbered. In an era of rapid digital change and digital disruption, how can anyone claim to be ‘leading’ without understanding how technology is impacting on their industry, their organisation? Is it time to call time on non-digital leaders unwilling to adapt.

5. The growing need for Digital Business Leaders raises important implications for our education, skills development and executive education systems. While there is a growing recognition of the need for digital transformation, current industry leaders (with a few exceptions) lack the digital knowledge, understanding and confidence to drive change. Younger managers (digital natives) may have the technology skills and confidence required but lack the high level strategic understanding of how to fully align digital technology to support core business goals. Technologists, CIOs and others may be very good at what they do but may lack the leadership skills to drive change.

The core challenge facing all of our organisations is this - how do we prepare future leaders for the twin demands of management and digital technology?

Does our management development and education system require a complete reboot?

As always, feedback and comments are very welcome.

Dr Jim Hamill

Full details of our next Digital Leaders Masterclass in association with the University of Edinburgh Business School can be found here. You can register an interest in attending here.

 

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Digital leaders in the public sector need to address top-down, rigid management hierarchies that stifle innovation according to a recent briefing note from Socitm, the organisation for public sector IT professionals.

For digital transformation to be effective, Councils need to embrace new ways of working. The 'status quo' is not an option. Digital leaders need to embrace new thinking and quickly.

The briefing note argues that traditional top-down management hierarchies are unlikely to work well in the digital age and stifle innovation. Digital leaders need to establish a culture of change and improvement, managing teams by outcomes rather than inputs.

Old constraints about when and where work should be done are often inconsistent with new digital thinking and ways of working. They are born of rigid hierarchies and top-down command and control. Employees should be treated as valued, responsible and well-motivated adults.

The note also argues that digital leaders need to develop the skills to 'sell' digital ideas to relevant service managers and to advise leaders to embrace agile working.

Socitm acknowledges that many of their recommendations do not fit easily with the 'conservative' public sector. However, this needs to change if local authorities are to provide services that can cope with increasing demand.

You can read the full article here.

Hopefully these issues will be discussed further during the Socitm Scotland 2016 Conference taking place in November.

As always, comment and feedback are very welcome.

Jim H

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