11 Jan

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 3) Develop Vision & Strategy

Vision and Strategy

Vision and Strategy

Once Sense of Urgency and guiding coalition has been created for Digital Transformation we need to ensure that we have vision and strategy in place. Vision & Strategy provides Why & How to ensure that the end result of Digital Transformation is successfully delivered.

Vision refers to a picture of the future with some implicit or explicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future.

Here are some of the best and widely known vision statements.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.


Tesla’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Importance of Vision:

  1. Clarifies the general direction of change to ensure that everyone is moving ion the right direction.
  2. Motivates to take action in right direction. Motivation is the most important ingredient for the success of any change.
  3. Coordinates the action of different people. It provides autonomy to Individuals and teams and while reducing conflicts.

“An ineffective vision may be worse than no vision at all”- John P. Kotter

It is very important to spend time and energy to create an effective vision. Effective Vision is imaginable, desirable, feasible, flexible, focused and can be communicated.

It is able to convey a picture of what the future will look like. It should be deeply rooted in the reality of product or service markets and also appeal and serve well to the long-term interests of enterprise stakeholders. If it is not feasible it is a pipe dream hence should consist of realistic and attainable goals. At the same time it should be general enough to allow individual initiatives and alternative responses in light of changing conditions.

If you look at example mission statements on the top you can see how easy it is to communicate and successfully explain them within five minutes. These are clear enough to provide guidance in decision-making and ensuring all projects are done in support of the vision.

Some famous quotes on Creating Vision:

“Developing a good vision is an exercise of both the head and the heart, it takes sometime, it always involves a group of people, and it is tough to do well.” – John P. Kotter

“Vision is never created in a single meeting. The activity takes months, sometimes years”  – John P. Kotter

Strategy provides both logic and first level of detail to show how a vision can be accomplished.

A good digital strategy provides a clear guidance on:

  1. Current state
  2. Competitive and Industry Analysis
  3. Roadmap that defines high-level initiatives
  4. High-level timeline
  5. Required Investment
  6. Benefits & ROI

It is important to keep in mind that even a digital transformation is just not about technology. The strategy for any digital transformation should cover the following  four areas:

  1. Technology
  2. Projects
  3. People
  4. Processes and People Enablement

Tools to build Strategy: I have tried many tools in the market but every time I have settled back with the basic tools like Excel, Word and PowerPoint.

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world. – Joel A. Barker

15 Nov

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 2) Build a Guiding Coalition

Guiding Coalition

Building a Guiding Coalition

Assemble a diverse alliance of enthusiastic people with power, credibility and influence to think, design and support digital transformation. This alliance is what John Kotter refers to as build a guiding coalition.

It is a Coalition and not a Team for digital transformation

Coalition is a combination or alliance, especially a temporary one between persons, factions, states, etc . This alliance has a wide representation from
  • different silos/business divisions/departments
  • diverse background and different expertise
  • different organizational levels
The digital transformation coalition mostly starts small and becomes bigger over few months.

The coalition is to guide the digital transformation

This group should have the intellectual ability to design the digital transformation. The individuals should be able to understand the need for digital transformation. They should be able to help you create strategic vision. Members will share excitement with others and make them interested in this effort. They are the change agents that will help you enlist the volunteer army for the change.
“You win by working hard, making tough decisions and building coalitions” – John Engler

Perfect candidates for digital transformation guiding coalition

  1. Early Adopters: These individuals are opinion leaders who listen to new ideas and are open to trying them. They are socially connected in the organization and have credibility. They are key to adoption of digital transformation due to credibility and influence.
  2. Executive Stakeholders: It is critical that one of the early adopters is from the executive team. Positional strength besides credibility and influence is must for digital transformation success.

Avoid these

  1. Don’t engage Innovators in this group. They are the ones who are first to embrace the change, are bright, enthusiastic and open to new ideas. Unfortunately they lack social influence and credibility. Their inclusion in this step may lead to quick death of digital transformation.
  2. Avoid late adopters or laggards until you have created few wins.

This post is part of series of post on Digital Transformation.  You can read Step #1 of Digital Transformation at http://rohitprabhakar.com/sense-urgency-digital-transformation/

10 Nov

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 1) Creating Sense of Urgency

Sense of Urgency

“Sense of urgency is not the natural state of affairs. It has to be created and recreated.”
John Kotter from his book “A sense of Urgency”
Leading Digital Transformation at any level requires an ability to create an atmosphere of urgency. An atmosphere that can motivate and keep the team focused on a daily basis. Only in that atmosphere digital transformation becomes an urgent and highly needed change.

Why to create sense of urgency?

Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value. — Jim Rohn
It will spark the initial motivation to get things moving and then keep the momentum going for digital transformation.

Who should you work with to create sense of urgency?

Ideally you should work with the top leadership and then it should come from top to bottom. This is only possible if currently a tornado like situation exists in your company.
Realistically, you will have to work with early adopters both at your level and some at senior leadership level. These are people who:
  • Trust you and your motives,
  • Willing to understand your vision for digital transformation to some extent,
  • Willing to work with you and
  • Have a good influence inside the organization.
I will talk more about this group in my post next week.
Please don’t go overboard and try to convince everybody. Start with creating sense of urgency with few who are critical and important to your digital transformation change.
Objections, low trust and demotivation are common to this phase. During this phase I hear things like:
  • Someone already tried this few years ago and they failed. Good luck!
  • This is going nowhere as we have seen similar things many times.
  • This organization will never do it that way.
  • We are already invested in IT and I cannot understand why we need a digital transformation.
Thanks to such advisors as it helps me to identify them as not early adopters.

How to establish sense of urgency

(all examples are from digital transformation of marketing use case)

Only crises, potential crises or big opportunities can help create a sense of urgency.


Identify crises/potential crises and use data to define the threat:

Here are some of the examples that you can focus on:
  • Examine market and competitive realities: Your competitors may already focusing on digital transformation. Best place to get this data is:
  • their job sites,
  • competitive analysis platforms like SimilarWeb,
  • SEO platforms like BrightEdge,
  • conferences where your competitors may be presenting digital insights e.g. MarTech
  • Vendors in your industry as they may be also serving your competitors.
  • Risk of disruption: Do I need to talk on this topic?? A good book on this topic is Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation by James McQuivey
  • Understand and quantify the risk of privacy or legal lawsuits: At large companies organizational and data silos may lead to vulnerability from privacy lawsuits. The case for digital transformation is worth alone just to handle this risk especially if you are in the European Union.

Identify major opportunities and define opportunity using the power of data:

The best place for marketing teams is to start with an opportunity assessment of all your digital properties. It is easy and can be achieved in 3-6 months. Tag all your digital properties with same analytics tag so that you can understand:
  • How the traffic flows within and outside your digital ecosystem
  • Type of customers/prospects that frequent your digital ecosystem
  • Identify some high value prospects
  • Identify the associated opportunity if you are able to properly engage them across all digital properties
I have seen this analysis work wonders and can alone help you get the buy in for digital transformation from the top executives.
Other sources of data for identifying and defining the opportunity are surveys/voice of customer, cross sell, up sell, cost savings from platform, agency spend etc.
Try to focus on opportunities that needs short timeline and has a strong ROI. I will talk more about this when I write about generating short-term wins.
This article is Part 1 of the 8 posts that I promised to publish in my recent post:
02 Nov

8 steps to digital transformation

leading-change-and-change-management-1Digital transformation is something I am extremely passionate about and I have the privilege to do it for few great organizations. Digital transformation is less about technology but more about the change that you bring. Change to people, culture of the organization and the processes. The following is a framework that I have been successfully using to bring digital change for many years.

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build a guiding coalition
  3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives
  4. Enlist a volunteer army
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

In next 8 weeks I am going to pick each one of them and share my experience as it relates to digital transformation. So stay tuned!

2 years ago I was introduced to John P Kotter’s book on leading change by my mentor who was Mr. Kotter’s student. Since then I have adopted his format as it matches what I have been using and has also given me a better structure. If you like reading books, I will not mind if you skip reading all of the  8 follow-up posts. I highly recommend his book “leading Change”.

Leading Change by John Kotter

leading change by John Kotter

26 Oct

Digital Transformation Strategy

I will not bore you with another post on what is digital transformation or digital transformation strategy. 
“The digital revolution is far more significant than the invention of writing or even of printing.”
-Douglas Engelbart

Let me help you answer the question: How to build digital transformation strategy?

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation (source: http://cpicon.com/)

One of common perceptions about digital transformation is that it is all about technology. Technology is the biggest enabler but not the only ingredient for digital transformation. Digital transformation brings huge change to people and processes that organization has adopted. Change is the biggest challenge that can derail digital transformation. Digital transformation strategy should ensure enough investment into change management.
“The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.”
– Nathaniel Branden

4 key pillars of digital transformation strategy:

  1. People
  2. Technology
  3. Projects
  4. Processes


The first question that needs to be addressed well is how it will impact all stakeholders. Based on the impact build training programs to enable your workforce with skills that are required in the new environment. Ensure that the organization adopts the vision and goals of digital transformation. You may bring in fresh digital talent that can help you strike a balance between knowing your business and knowing digital.


I assume you already understand it well. Few recommendations:
  • Buying technology is not step #1
  • Buy technology once you are sure about condition of success for that technology
  • Your team and stakeholders should have control in selecting technology.


Before bringing in technology and enabling your workforce, digital transformation strategy should enlist projects that bring digital investment into life. Some of the high level categories that you should definitely focus on are:
  1. Understanding the customer and their journey: Customer journey is no more a vertical funnel. It is complex and convoluted due the digital age, many devices and channels. Better Customer Experience leads to better business conversions.
  2. Increasing conversion: For Marketing it can be creating more revenue or sales enablement, for HR it could be increasing quality resume submissions etc.


Digital transformation is not only applicable to your customer. Digital transformation should also enable your own workforce by digitizing the processes. This can ensure huge cost savings due to efficiencies, collaboration and reuse. Digital transformation strategy should also promote agile methodologies as it helps improving productive.