Digital Leaders Blog

Digital Leaders (20)

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The rationale underlying launch of our 'Leading Digital' programme four years ago was that a new breed of senior executive was urgently required - leaders of change for the digital era; executives who combine high level business knowledge, experience and understanding with the ability to implement digital supported transformation strategies fully aligned with and supportive of agreed business goals and objectives. Executives with the personal skills and confidence to drive organisational change.

New evidence that we are facing a crisis of digital leadership, not just digital skills, has emerged from a recent study by MIT SMR and Cognizant on the Future of Leadership in the Digital Economy

The study, based on a…

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1529820676?profile=RESIZE_710xA 'must read’ for participants on our ‘Leadership for the Digital Era’ programmes, from Steve Denning author of ‘The Age of Agile’.

The Dominant Model Of 20th Century Organizations: Bureaucracy

If we look at 20th Century organisations, we can see that a bureaucratic mindset was dominant. The organizational world was seen as vertical. Its natural habitat was the tall buildings in places like New York. Strategy gets set at the top, as Gary Hamel often explains. Power trickles down. Big leaders appoint little leaders. Individuals compete for promotion. Compensation correlates with rank. Tasks are assigned. Managers assess performance. Rules…

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How Different is Digital Leadership?

1420425387?profile=RESIZE_710xWe have been arguing for four years now that a new breed of senior executive is required, Digital Business Leaders - 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.

But how different is this new breed of leader? Does the leadership handbook need to be completely rewritten for the digital age? Or do the essentials of leadership stay the same even in an era of rapid digital disruption?

A joint research project between MITSloan Management Review and Deloitte sheds…

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1418043871?profile=RESIZE_710xHaving board members with experience in digital business is the new financial performance differentiator according to research published in the Spring Edition of the  MITSloan Management Review.

Based on a comprehensive machine learning analysis of the digital know-how of all the boards of US listed businesses, the study found that companies whose boards of directors have 'digital savvy' outperform others.

'Digital savvy' was defined as an "understanding, developed through experience and education, of the impact that emerging technologies will have on business success over the next decade". 

Interesting variations emerged across industries, with boards of directors in some sectors being significantly more 'digital savvy' than others. …

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As we move from the WHY to the HOW of digital transformation, a balanced approach is required to overcome the numerous obstacles standing in the way of effective change management. Technology on its own is not enough.

Two of the main obstacles to successful digital transformation, identified in most recent research studies, are people and culture.

This 2018 paper from BCG argues that transformation requires a tectonic change in the activities performed by employees, their individual behaviours and the ways they interact with others inside and outside the organisation. Traditional ways of working are incompatible with digital transformation.

As well as acknowledging digital transformation as the fundamental, strategic paradigm shift it is, leaders must instill a culture that supports change.

Embedding a…

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Capgemini's recent report Understanding Digital Mastery Today is required reading for anyone invloved in leading digital transformation programmes.

You are not alone in the barriers and obstacles you face!

Based on an extenisve survey of 1,300 executives in over 750 global organisations, the research concludes that many are finding their digital transformation journeys a real struggle. Only a minority of the organisations surveyed have the digital (39%) and managerial (35%) capacities needed to make their digital transformation successful.

Worringly, there has been a significant decline in organisations' general readiness for digital transformation compared to an identical survey carried out six years…

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Leadership in a Digital Era

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The changes brought about by the Internet over the last twenty years are nothing compared to what is coming over the next few years. A convergence of disruptive technologies, combined with the rapid emergence of a new generation of constantly connected, empowered customers and employees (Gen C), is threatening to reshape markets faster than at any time in history.

No industry, no organisation is immune from the threat of being disrupted; just ask your local taxi driver (Uber) or Guest House owner (Airbnb). With labour markets being transformed by artificial intelligence and automation, no individual is immune. 375 million people worldwide may have to switch occupation category by 2030 according to one study (…

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Football fans (soccer to our North American friends) should find the two videos below to be of interest.

How Bayern Munchen uses digital technology to enhance the fan experience at the Allianz Arena.

A big thank you to 'Gunner' fan Mohammed AlGhazali from the Strathclyde Business School MBA programme (Bahrain) for showing me these during the recent Digital Leaders workshop in Abu Dhabi.

Having experienced every senior football ground in Scotland, annually for the last 50 plus years, the only thing i can add is 'if only'.

Take care.

Jim H…

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Digital Nation Round Table

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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…
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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.…
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The 8 Types of Company Culture


1486046?profile=RESIZE_480x480Our 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.…

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Key Questions for Digital Leaders

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“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…

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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…

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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…

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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?…

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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…

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Managing Digital Transformation

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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.…
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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…
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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 …

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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…

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