“Put digital transformation on the top of your agenda now.” That’s the word from George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, as spelled out in their latest work, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation.

Of course, going digital isn’t just something that can be accomplished by decree. Organizations have many moving parts, and it takes some finesse to keep everything in sync. “Finding the right tempo for digital transformation in your organization is a managerial art form,” they point out. “You need to design digital transformation programs that protect profitable existing operations and assets, while making the transition to a new digital business or digitally enhancing part of it.” An example may be the risk of cutting into business and relationships with agencies while seeking to build digital engagement with customers.

So what does it take to achieve this balancing act, and mobilize our organization? The authors provide six key guidelines:

Send signals. Send “unequivocal internal and external signals about the importance of the digital phenomenon and the resulting changes that are expected,” Westerman and his co-authors explain. The signals can take many forms, such as promoting an executive to the role of chief digital officer.

Explain benefits clearly. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes and ask: “What’s in it for me?” the authors urge. “You need to articulate how digital transformation will improve the way people do their jobs – making their work easier, better, faster or more fulfilling.”

Use all available communication channels. “Use all available digital platforms within your organization – video, enterprise social networks, webcasts, and intranets. Use your traditional channels as well.” In addition, with messages, “what counts is authenticity. Show that you care about people’s contribution to making vision a reality and that you value increased dialogue.”

Walk the talk. Be a role model, the authors urge.

Identify your digital champions. These are people who have bought into the vision, and can get the rest of the organization excited about the vision as well. “They will, most likely, be your organization’s future digital leaders,” said Westerman and his co-authors.

Identify quick wins: “Digital technology allows for very effective and low-cost targeted experiments,” the authors state. “Find a pocket of efficiency gains in operations, make a better decision through an analytics pilot, or generate better sales results in a regional experiment.”

See also from McKendrick: 10 IT 'Truths' Undermined by Digital

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