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Ready For Digital Transformation, So Who To Lead The Journey?

It’s no longer just about business, it’s about technological change, mindset & culture.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

The Malaysian government just released the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint and one particular area that captured my attention is having 100% civil servants to possess digital literacy to improve public service delivery.

Of course there many more outcomes they are looking at but that is not the topic I am going to elaborate further on. 

I am an advocator of Digital Transformation but not so much as how the technologies are taking over our lives but more as how people are going to evolve. Besides innovative solutions and technologies, COVID-19 joins the innovators in becoming the push factor for transformation.

During the outbreak, companies, leaders and employees start scrambling for change. The happenings are unprecedented, budgeting is not factored in, processes are not ready, leaders need new ideas to grow their business, they start to think as to how to manage and measure performances and outputs; how to comply with regulatory governance and manage their control and many more. 

Many suffered the consequences of such unplanned change that cause them to miss milestones, particularly budget being overrun. In which case the employees are definitely impacted. We can’t deny the fact that employees are one of the crucial components of change.  

Never a day, leaders stop talking about digital transformation and their growth plan. Change is inevitable and it is a good sign that strategic vision being announced by the top. However, when such messages being disseminated to the ground level that is where the challenges occur. While some may look forward to the change, but there are also some having resistance to change and hence the change process will be the major barrier for transformation.

Strategically, change will impact the organizational people, processes, products (technologies) and even their strategic partners (the strategic 4Ps).  But changes do not only happen during the stage of implementation. Change starts from day zero, during the planning stage; day one, when onboarding the change process and day two, when the business starts to stabilize. But how do you do that?

Let me share one of my many experiences. I was very enthusiastic to run my first workshop ongoing digital. I had a few key senior leaders to share their vision during the opening. The team that attended the workshop felt energized with the digitalization initiative and they came up with a strategic plan for an innovative solution to improve business growth.

However, the eventual result of their initiative was dropped off before it even rolls-out. What happens, why was it dropped off? It dropped off because that was not the senior leaders’ priorities even though they voice their support for digitalization. The team started to despair, business continues as usual.

In another scenario, a COO of an organization was struggling to lead the change as his leaders did not execute his strategic plan. At the same time, they send all the different levels of employees to change training. I still remember, the trainer then showed the video on “who move my cheese” but on the ground, the employee can’t grasp the change that was forthcoming. Hence, the COO with his perseverance went onto the ground personally to work along-side the project team to execute the change.

From the above scenarios, I read Jabil’s COVID-19’s update, companies with more than 100 employees experienced barrier change, ranges from employees pushback to lack of expertise to lead digitalization. But who are really equipped to lead and drive transformation journey?

There are many people who argued that CHRO should lead the transformation, others who felt the CIO or CDO should take the lead. In reality, transformation starts from all towers, may it be CHRO, CDO, CIO, COO etc.

I read an article on Schneider Electric’s transformation. Their CIO, Elizabeth Hackenson lead the transformation journey by spending 20% of her day interacting with all tower leaders and participate in their project meetings. She believes in transparency, openness in discussing difficult topics so all are able to focus on the journey at large.

At the end of the day, the foundation of transformation starts from the top, leaders need to lead the digital journey, employees need to think digital and everyone needs to govern digital by being accountable.

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Written By

Elsie Low is passionate about change mindset and an advocator of Digital Transformation and the Gig Economy. She believes that setting the pace with the right strategy and mindset is at the forefront to embark on their digital journey. Connect with here on LinkedIn.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Simon Low

    21st February 2021 at 11:02 am

    Well written article and straight to the point what most corporations and leaders failed to execute the digital transformation. Turned out just talk with no real action.

    The digital transformation is like another paradigm shift, only true leader who has a long term vision that go beyond his/her personal objective can see success.

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