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


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.
01 May

Problem solving needs Common sense, more than intelligence

The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense. – Thomas A. Edison

My recent experience helped me understand that it takes common sense; more than intelligence to create best solution in every situation.

My son goes to kindergarten and the entrance is through an enclosure. We all drop and pick the kids at this enclosure. The enclosure has a big door on the fence, which is open using a door stopper only during the time of drop and pickup.

The door stopper went missing few days ago. As a makeshift stopper we have been using one of the kick ball to stop the door from closing.

Normal Solution
Today was very different as it is very windy here. I went to pick up my son and I was the first one to be at the door. once the staff opened the gate, I was holding it to let others get in. Once I was done it was time to put the kick ball as stopper (remember the door stopper went missing). I kept the kick ball at the normal position but the wind pushed the door and the ball went away, closing the door. I again opened it and put the ball back, wind wasted my effort again.
Here comes another person ( seems like an engineer like me) and puts the kick ball tightly again. Again blew the wind and there went the ball, closing the door. 

During all this time a grand mother was watching us (the smart professionals).  This time she pitched in, picked the ball and put it at another spot where the door shuts. Wind blew again and again and again, but the door was left open this time.

Smart Solution
I watched this to my amazement and kept thinking about this. More I think more I want to remember that it takes common sense to create great solutions.

We were too focused to do it the way we have been doing since many days. We forgot our main goal to keep the door from locking. The goal was never to keep the door wide open. A person with a common sense walks in and finds a solution that is perfect for the need.

19 Aug

What I learnt on Day 1 of MarTech Conference

Martech Conference at Boston turned out to be one of the best conference I have ever attended. Here is the recap of what I learnt at MarTech Conference in day 1. I think twitter is a very nice global notebook to take notes. This way you are not selfish to keep the good notes from MarTech to only yourself.