How to Be a Leader in the Digital Transformation Era

Many of you may have noticed a shift in both your day-to-day lives, as well as your work environments. What used to be done with a paper and pen is now being done by electronic devices. Some of us may struggle with this new transition, but there are also people out there who have the quick-and-easy on how to stay on top of things throughout this digital transformation.

Scott Anthony, Managing Partner of consulting firm Innosight, spoke with Christopher Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program about his latest article in the Harvard Business Review: Leading a Digital Transformation? Learn to Code.

First, Anthony provided a clear definition of what it means to be going through a digital transformation: “It is the way in which you’re doing your job by providing services to your clients, customers, and stakeholders. It is the process of going from an analog way where you might be using pens, papers, and physical materials to new ways of working where you are increasingly using software, interconnected networks, and all the emerging technologies that we all understand as consumers.”

As Anthony mentioned, and as you may be experiencing, this is not just a transition seen in the private sector. Government is increasingly becoming a part of the new era. As a result, Anthony provided several pieces of advice on how to move forward in the most efficient and effective ways possible as a government leader during the digital transformation era.

  • Learn about Transformation A: Anthony described the first phase of the transformation as Transformation A. This is when you first learn about how to do your job more efficiently. In other words, “You’re still basically providing the same service to the customer, but you are radically reconfiguring the way that you’re doing it.”
  • Learn about Transformation B: Anthony explained Transformation B as the ability to “take the disruptive change as an advantage to go do something fundamentally different.” He referenced Xerox and told about how they took a potentially threatening situation (where the current business model may have been at risk) and expanded their printing company to include business process outsourcing.
  • Learn about coding firsthand: According to Anthony, “Coding itself is a very useful skill to have because it teaches you and helps you understand how to stay breast of technology.” Additionally, Anthony emphasized that “If you are undergoing a change like this [transformation], then you cannot rely on second or third-hand reports. You’ve got to get out there and live on the frontline or you can’t hope to make good decisions.”
  • Get a reverse and inverse mentor: Anthony defined a reverse mentor as someone who is younger than you and who has firsthand experience with technologies, while an inverse mentor is someone who has a different background and experiences than yourself. He referenced Marc Benioff, founder and CEO of Salesforce.com. According to Anthony, Benioff’s reverse mentor is Drew Houston, founder of Dropbox, and a generation younger. His inverse mentor could be considered Will I Am from the Black Eyed Peas.
  • Force intersections: Anthony told leaders to “Think of some things that you can do to essentially act as nudges that force intersections and collisions.” This way you force different people to work together. Ultimately, you don’t want only ‘yes men.’ A good work environment needs people to play devil’s advocate; to argue the other side, to probe and push you to think in different ways.
  • Re-learn how to be a child: Anthony stated that one of the fundamental issues when undergoing a digital transformation is the mindset of leaders. He reminded leaders that they were “Born with the characteristics of an entrepreneur…so the trick is to find ways to release the inner child.”

Any transformation is difficult. A digital transformation may be one of the hardest transitions you will have to undergo. It may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but if you follow these easy steps it will pay off in the end! Who knows –you may help your company become more profitable or help invent a new hit application along the way!

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