04 May

Reframe Problems Before Solving

I recently understood the importance of reframing the problem before looking into solutions. It helps in creating simple, effective and economical solution in far shorter time.

Problem Reframing

Image Source: HBR

Here are Seven practices for effective reframing of problem in few minutes that I learnt from HBR article:

  1. Establish legitimacy: It’s difficult to use reframing if you are the only person in the room who understands the matter. Share this article with your team https://hbr.org/2017/01/are-you-solving-the-right-problems
  2. Bring outsiders into the discussion: Someone who works with your team but not part of it. They will think differently and challenge the group’s thinking.
  3. People’s definition in writing: This helps in ensuring everyone have the same view and understanding of the problem.
  4. Ask what’s missing: This ensures the description of problem is accurate and complete.
  5. Consider multiple categories: Invite people to identify specifically what category of problem they think the group is facing.
  6. Analyze positive exceptions: Look to instances when the problem did not Occur, asking, what was different about that situation?
  7. Question the objective: Reframe by paying explicit attention to the objectives of the parties involved first clarifying and then challenging them.
25 Apr

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 5)- Empower and Remove Barriers

Removing Barriers

Image Source: NYTimes

The purpose of this stage is to overcome barriers to Digital Transformation. It is crucial to remove barriers to change, change systems or structures that pose threats to digital transformation. These barriers could be structure, skills, systems and supervisors. Three main best practices for removing barriers to change are:

Educate & Engage

When major changes are initiated we need to think about new behavior, skills and attitudes that are required in the new world. A good training with right kind of experience enables digital transformation in a big way. Always remember that encouraged and empowered employees make an enterprise win!

Inform & Negotiate

Every transformation will have it’s fair share of problem stakeholders. A huge category of such problem stakeholders can be influenced directly and indirectly. These stakeholders are not just against the change but also have huge organizational influence. There is no way that your change will be successful without including them in the process. Understanding the real needs/fears of such stakeholders is very critical as you try to negotiate with them to be the supporters of your change.

Every time after a successful negotiations I feel like this

Sucessful Digital transformation Negotiation


Some of the problem stakeholders are completely against the change but don’t have huge influence on the organization. The best strategy for such stakeholders is to give them very high level information and keep them out of your routine. You may like to negotiate with such stakeholders but that may not be the best use of your time!

Related Articles:

8 steps to digital transformation

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 1) Creating Sense of Urgency

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 2) Build a Guiding Coalition 

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 3) Develop Vision & Strategy 

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 4) Communicate and Enlist volunteers

22 Jan

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 4) Communicate and Enlist volunteers

“Change happens when it is done by the people and not to the people!”

 communicate vision to enlist volunteers

Enlist Volunteers

In step 2 we talked about building a guiding coalition. Now is the time to take participation in Digital Transformation to new levels by enlisting volunteers. It is just like software moving from Alpha to a beta stage. The intent is to have more adopters who can participate, provide live feedback and become the change agents.

Raise a bigger force of people who are ready, willing and urgent to drive the Digital Transformation change. The other intent of this step is to make more co-authors of this Digital Transformation change. As more people will get engaged in the earlier stage hence they will become the true carriers of the vision and message. In order to expand use the power of communication.

Communicate Vision

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. -George Bernard Shaw

Communication seems to work best when it is direct and simple. Simple communication only comes through great clarity of thought plus courage to keep it simple. Even when this is a Digital Transformation All jargon and technical language must be avoided at any cost while you communicate vision.

Tip: If you are originally from technology background like me, this may be an area of improvement.

A picture is worth a thousand words

Well chosen words can make it memorable, even if it has to compete with hundreds of other communications for people’s attention. Always remember logic makes us think, emotion drives us to act. Emotion can also come from analogies, stories, or concrete examples that illustrate what success looks like while you communicate vision.

I am guilty of over communicating the technology infrastructure we plan to bring and invest into. Every time I did that I have seen faces in the room who leave without getting the vision of Digital Transformation.

Tip: Communicate vision in terms of business benefits and that too in a simple language that even a grandmother can understand. Analogy and examples are a great tool for that.

Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space. -Orson Scott Card

We should use all the vehicles available to communicate vision. The message should come from all different channels. Big meetings and small, memos and newsletters, formal and by the coffee machine interaction – all are effective for spreading the message. We should continue to do this repeatedly as ideas sink in deeply only after they have been heard many times. If you are a marketer, you very well understand how many impressions lead to conversion. It hardly happens with just one impression!

You and other key players should live the vision in real time. Everything that is being done by the key team should be aligned to the vision and strategy for the Digital Transformation. Even repeated attempts to communicate vision cannot help if you and your key team are not acting as per the vision and strategy. If there are any inconsistencies, those should be addressed immediately and communicated.

“Swallow your pride and always be ready to accept that you may not be right” – Your Truly

As Digital Transformation lead, I have sometimes avoided two-way communication as I was afraid of a stakeholder not adopting my vision. Over these years I have learned that two-way communication is always more powerful than one-way communication. Two-way communication may suggest sometimes that we are on the wrong course and that vision needs to be revisited. Swallowing our pride and reworking the vision or strategy is far more productive that heading off in the wrong direction or with a wrong strategy for Digital Transformation.

The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.- J. B. Priestley

Previous Articles:

8 steps to digital transformation 

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 1) Creating Sense of Urgency 

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 2) Build a Guiding Coalition 

Leading Digital Transformation (Step 3) Develop Vision & Strategy

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/