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. Develop vision & strategy
  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

People

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.
 

Technology

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.

Projects

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.

Processes

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.
02 Sep

Leader, take your vitamins first!

IMG_8359

Today morning life gave me an opportunity to be a better leader. I learnt a lesson from my son that I will always apply to become a better leader. My 7 yr old son has been a very healthy eater since he started eating.  Lately he turned into being a picky eater, not interested in eating kids vitamins and no more love for protein shakes ( being vegetarian, shakes are the biggest source of protein for us).

Something has definitely changed! He used to love taking protein shake for lunch with his food, take his vitamins without being asked and eat almost everything that was cooked in home. Me and my wife had many conversations with him and we used many techniques to put him back into his healthy habits. All convincing has not been working since last 1 year.

Today morning, I was shocked! My son was almost ready to eat his favorite cereal and then he gets up to grab his vitamins without being asked. Day before he asked for a protein shake/smoothie when he returned from school. Since last few days he is no more a picky eater to a good extent. I have been trying to understand what is making him change especially when neither me or my wife have convinced him in last few weeks.

Actually it is me who has changed!

My son has been watching and being influenced by the change I have brought in my life. Since last few weeks I have started exercising daily, taking my vitamins and eating healthy food.  Actually I have been “Walking the walk” or “leading by example” or…… In last few weeks he has seen me drinking protein shakes. When he got up for taking his vitamins he saw me taking my vitamins with my breakfast. Finally I am practicing and not preaching and that is the change.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This is how we really influence our teams/organizations/families/society. Knowingly or unknowingly everything we DO (and not say) is what is really replicated. One question that has not left my mind since then, do I lead my team/organization/family/… By walking the walk?

As leaders if we expect accountability we are the ones who should be accountable to our teams first. If we expect an extra effort from our team we are the ones who always have to go an extra mile. If we expect loyalty then we should be the most loyal to our teams, and the list goes on….

I hope you are a leader like that!

“Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others, as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” ~ Thomas J. Watson, Former Chairman of IBM

26 Nov

Thank you! Happy Thanksgiving 2015

With a limited understanding of Thanksgiving, all I know it is about being Grateful and celebrating it with food (especially Turkey). Grateful to everybody who has contributed to your life in the preceding year. Being a vegetarian I am not going to eat Turkey but I can still be grateful to everyone who has helped me.

thank-you

From the day I started thinking about my career until today there are so many family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and unknowns who helped me become a better person.  Since last many years I wanted to write this post and show my gratitude to everyone who has helped me directly or indirectly. Finally here is my grateful list (besides my awesome family) with names of many who helped me this year and during many previous years:

  • Puneet Rampall for influencing and helping me learn computers. You are the reason why I am in technology today (all for good).
  • Sanjay Kohli for believing in me and getting me my big break.
  • Anoop Jain for teaching me technology properly and helping me become confident in Java.
  • Inder Pal Singh for being that awesome friend and colleague. I have always looked at you as a colleague who knows better than me but still willing to teach me.
  • Manish Verma for being my first career mentor. You always nurtured me and brought the best out of me. Even in the times when I deleted the entire demo code during the demo 🙂 you still never lost confidence in me.
  • Dinesh Pandey for taking me to new levels of technology and always treating me first class.
  • Parveen Deswal for being an awesome friend in the new country. I remember the days when we all used to go out to see the fall colors in the tri-state area.
  • Gerry Glynn for teaching me Sales especially how to have a Customer-First mindset.
  • Michelle Bowen for believing in me.
  • Prakash Khatri for being a manager and a great friend especially during the toughest times of my life.
  • Sheryl Pattek for helping me understand why being obsessed about customer is most important.
  • Scott Brinker for being that indirect coach who helped me understand and navigate the world of Marketing Technology through your super active blog.
  • Saad Hameed for all the lunch, learn and walk meetings at LinkedIn on the topics of Marketing Technology
  • Tracy Thomsic for always pushing me hard and helping me get the best out of me
  • Nicole Vadas for helping me understand McKesson, always listening to me and guiding me properly.
  • Andy Burtis for always sharing your vision, believing in my vision and allowing me to work on it. Most importantly for mentoring me all these years!
  • Jeff Stalcup for helping me become better with communications and especially the presentations. I am a fan of your 5X5 rule.
  • Kris Fortner for always motivating and tips to handle organizational change.
  • Jennifer Otto for helping me understand the “Grand Mother Rule” in communication.
  • Michael Davis for being a firm supporter and a co-pilot for crazy digital ideas.
  • Charles Shimooka for always being honest with your feedback and help me understand different perspectives.
  • Omar Al-Sinjari  for being my sounding board where I can test my ideas and get great feedback.
  • Ulli Muenker for all your help improving my presentations.
  • Andrew Hecht for helping me become better in pronouncing many words as per American English.
  • Drew Vecchione for supporting me on many tough decisions.
  • Mark Ryan for always helping me prove the case for Digital and continued support to keep the stakeholders engaged with awesome data.
  • To everyone else who I missed to mention. I apologize that I forgot to mention you here but you know I truly value your contribution.

 Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all with continue helping me become a better person next year too.