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 thedigital 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
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.
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.
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.
Avoid late adopters or laggards until you have created few wins.
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:
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:
Digital 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.
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”.