The 3×3 Framework for Digital Transformation Alignment

To write a post on a trending topic, one would typically start with a definition, but in this case, “Digital Transformation” means different things to different people. From the Bennet Frank survey, CIOs’ Perspectives on Digital Transformations, industry analysts, and our own client engagements, we have heard the term used to describe anything from consolidating ERP systems to accepting bitcoin payments. You could attend an IT conference and listen to three Digital Transformation sessions that give contradictory advice. Practitioners in the trenches can easily get confused and overwhelmed.

So let’s break down the key components of a Digital Transformation into a systematic approach to help you focus your efforts and align expectations with top management.

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What Are Your CFO Counterparts Learning? A Recap of the 2019 CFO Leadership Conference

The CFO Leadership Council recently hosted its 9th annual national conference in Boston. Andrey Alekseyev and I were fortunate enough to be in attendance for the first time. Over 400 senior financial executives gathered in Boston, MA for two days to discuss and dig deep into the complexities of being a modern CFO. In case you missed it, we took notes. Below are our key takeaways and summaries of a few memorable sessions.

As you would expect, CFOs are focused on the staples of financial success—namely, ROI and outcomes. But the modern CFO is also concerned with far more than just the finance function of their organization. Today’s CFOs are invested in digital transformation and what technology can do for their business across the entire organization. In a way, this strategic shift has revolutionized the role of forward-looking CFO.

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Want to Accelerate Change? Slow Down and Observe Team Dynamics

Originally presented at SIM Connect Live 2019 (“Make Winning Normal: Maximizing Agility with High-Performing Teams”), the following concepts offer a new way for IT organizations to implement disruptive technologies and innovations at scale:

The Pace of Change and the Adoption Curve

The pace and complexity of new technologies and innovations have only been increasing over the past years and show no sign of letting up. We consistently hear the following questions from IT leaders:

  • How do I maintain a competitive advantage while keeping up with the pace of change?
  • How do I ensure my organization can effectively adopt new technologies?

One way to address these questions is by examining the Adoption Curve as described by Geoffrey Moore. The Adoption Curve details the distributions and tendencies of a population as it adopts an innovation.

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Stuck with a Bad PM Tool? Here’s What to Do

Let’s say you’re planning to repaint your living room this weekend. You shop for supplies online: drop cloths, painter’s tape, and brushes. Alexa, innocently, puts scrub brushes in your cart instead of paint brushes. The delivery arrives the next day. Do you have the tools you need to get the job done? The scrub brush has a handle and bristles! The bristles can be dipped into the paint! Will it require more work to create the desired outcome with a scrub brush rather than a paint brush? My guess is, no matter what, it’s not going to be pretty.

It’s not that the scrub brush is a bad product. On the contrary, it’s probably the highest rated scrub brush on the web. The issue is that you need a paint brush specifically designed to apply paint evenly and precisely. You need the right tool for the job.

Flash forward to the work week: How often are we using the wrong tool for a job?

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Traditional vs Transformational: Breaking down the differences between IT leadership archetypes

As a company embarks on a journey of digital transformation and immense change, the expectations of IT leaders change as well. Two general archetypes have emerged, but in reality, individuals fall somewhere on the spectrum between the two extremes. Both archetypes can be extraordinarily valuable in the right situation. Each can also be incredibly ineffective when placed in the wrong context.

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How to Spot a Fake Digital Transformation

Have you participated in or led a digital transformation at your organization? Was it really a transformation, or was it perhaps just a series of initiatives that sounded nice, felt good, and checked a few boxes?

I’ve seen many executives who’ve tried in earnest to digitally transform their organization, but were forced to settle for a set of random projects that don’t truly qualify as transformative. I’ve also seen some well-meaning but misguided initiatives fall short of embodying an effective transformation.

Sorry to break it to you, but swapping an analog clock for a digital clock in the lobby does not qualify as a digital transformation.

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Girl Scout Advice for Supplementing Age-Old Management Practices with Digital Principles

When I was a Girl Scout, I learned how to succeed in organization-wide digital transformations. (Everyone got that IT leadership badge, right?!)

We were taught to:

Make new friends but keep the old.
One is silver and the other’s gold.

This universal advice applies now as we “scout” in the digital age. It’s important to value the old strategies for success—the fundamentals that kept your organization alive before its digital transformation—while seeking out new ones to apply in the current industry climate. 

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So What? The Big Takeaways After Reading the Digital Transformation Report

For the CIOs’ Perspectives on Digital Transformation study, IT leaders from a wide range of industries and organization sizes were asked about the nature of their ongoing digital transformations, progress along their journeys, challenges, and more. Based on their responses and our experience with clients, we have drawn the following conclusions about the state of digital transformations in 2018.

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The Traditional-Transformational CIO Spectrum: What Type of CIO Are You?

There is a new type of CIO on the scene: the Transformational CIO. Transformational CIOs focus on external customers, innovate, think about the top line, drive business process evolution, and change the culture of the entire organization.

The almost-extinct type of a CIO—one we would all like to forget—we’ll call the Traditional CIO. Little is written about the misery of the Traditional CIO. Traditional CIOs are focused on technology first, take orders from internal customers, don’t rock the boat, and diligently reduce IT spend by 10 percent year over year, using band-aid solutions to keep outdated technology operational.

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