The essential actions for digital transformation in your organisation

By Lisa Barrett on 13-May-2016 13:24:00

"Why is this harder than it looks?"

Digital transformation is only achievable with a change of mindset coupled with enhanced ability across the entire organisation. Nothing about this is simple or can happen by accident.

Particularly relevant for those with learning and development (L&D) responsibilities, the following essential steps have been developed by AVADO through considerable experience working alongside our partners on multi-faceted digital transformation projects.

Read the first five action steps below, or access all ten essential steps instantly by downloading the AVADO's whitepaper: The 10 Essential Actions for Digital Transformation in your Organisation.

Download the whitepaper

  1. Know where to start, and know that this is the hardest part

Knowing that you need to do something ‘digital’ is easy. Understanding what it is that you need to do is a lot harder.

In our digital Bootcamp sessions with senior leadership, teams have reported feeling lost in the digital world, but more specifically lost in what one means by ‘digital’. Leaders can lack the confidence needed to lead in a digital environment because (rightly or wrongly) they feel that others are more acclimatised to digital than they are.

Leadership need a starting point in their knowledge bank, and a framework for what ‘digital’ means that, often, L&D are best placed to provide. This will offer senior leaders the support they need to enact change.

But to offer this support, L&D leaders first need to fully grasp what it means to be ‘digital’ themselves. They need to understand which types of learning experiences will work and which won’t when it comes to digital transformation.

In the recently published Digiskills Report, we found that organisations are far more likely to be digitally capable when their L&D function undertakes experiences to themselves define the digital skills that their organisation needs.

To enable digital change, L&D functions first need to understand it. Once they do, they can be incredible enablers.

  1. Adapt, don’t throw out your culture

A digital age culture is essential for any organisation seeking greater digital capability.

But when we start speaking with organisations, the majority simply don’t realise how their culture needs to change.

Then, for those that do realise, difficulties in bridging their legacy culture and a ‘digital’ culture can stop them from progressing. In fact, a large proportion of executives enroled on our executive education courses state that they have done so in order to learn how to create a more digital culture. It’s an area where organisations need support.

- How do you highlight what needs to change and what doesn’t?

- How do you make cultural change a concrete, high-impact thing?

- What are the right indicators?

To start, build on your current organisational culture rather than starting from scratch. There’s no need to relocate offices to the trendy part of town, or invest in themed meeting rooms. But environment does matter to signal how you want teams to communicate and collaborate. The key lies in understanding what is great about your current culture, then building upon that in a structured way toward proven strategies.

  1. Enable a faster pace of change

Everyone wants to adapt faster, especially when customer expectations, competitors and new entrants are evolving at speed. But to adapt more quickly, individuals and teams need to know how to do things differently. They need to be able to picture what ‘good’ looks like in terms of iteration.

To achieve this shift, L&D need to employ hands-on, social and collaborative experiential learning. Psychologists know that it’s incredibly hard for people to do something they haven’t seen before. Successful learning design tackles that head-on.

  1. Recognise and address the three critical driving points for capability enhancement

True digital transformation occurs through capability enhancement, preparing individuals and teams with the skills and mindset needed to excel in the digital age. To succeed, it’s essential that transformation occurs across three core groups.

Firstly, senior leaders need to enhance their digital capability in order to inspire and guide others. They don’t need a comprehensive understanding, but a holistic one. They need to have a solid framework and understanding to engage and challenge their managers and business units. They need to be able to look for the right indicators that show if the company is on track.

Secondly, the wider organisation needs to get up-to-speed in digital. To communicate and comprehend each other effectively, as well as the organisation’s leadership, it’s essential that all employees speak the same language.

Thirdly, specialist knowledge needs to be built within an organisation. Whether it is data analysing ability, SEO expertise, even experience in a particular type of software; if your organisation is, or wants to be utilising a particular digital skillset, then specialist knowledge will lead organisation-wide adoption.

L&D are in an unrivalled place to spur all three of these, starting by aligning senior leaders’ understanding and exposing them to the right examples in order to catalyse change.

  1. Focus on getting your organisation to properly use the data it collects

Customers now have the ability to rapidly change their habits and how they make decisions. The digital age has affected decision making in a way never seen before. Your organisation needs to get ahead of that.

To do this, organisations need to be able to comprehend data. They need to be able to recognise which data is relevant, when. They need to have the capabilities to trace data through a storyline, and they need to be able to break data down and draw actionable conclusions.

One way to test your organisation’s current data situation is to ask: who makes decisions? If your answer is simply hierarchical and/or intuition based, that’s not good enough anymore. Competitors are out there using new forms of data, ways of looking at data, and ways of decentralising data to perfect their offerings.

The longer you leave it to harness your data to do the same, the harder it will be to catch up.

Organisations need to know what to do with the data they already have and are continuing to collect. L&D in particular have the potential to help their organisations think about data and use data a way that multiplies their value.

Now you've read the first five action steps above, access all ten essential steps instantly by downloading AVADO's whitepaper: The 10 Essential Actions for Digital Transformation in your Organisation.

Download the whitepaper

Topics: Insider, People and Talent, Mindset and Culture, Data and Analytics, Disruption, Leadership, Digital Transformation, New Ways of Working

Lisa Barrett

Written by Lisa Barrett

Managing Director at AVADO Digital, previously a Director at Coursera and a Partner at TNTP in the US, designing, launching and scaling education solutions. Lisa is passionate about effective digital education, and the ability of technology to bring about needed change. Lisa holds an MBA from INSEAD.

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