Organisations should not be afraid to embrace change, and should in fact welcome it to thrive in this new world. Embracing change is at the core to any successful digital transformation journey.

Across all industries, enterprises should be paying close attention to the disruptions taking place in the market, and also the potential for improvement within the business itself. Being attuned to such areas ensures transformation efforts are more likely to deliver meaningful outcomes that will truly ‘shift the dials’ in the right direction.

Partnering with an external expert, recruiting the right people, embracing disruptive technology and evolving cultural DNA will be key to enabling said ‘dial shifts’.

As the need for and pace of change accelerates, and businesses adapt to a ‘new normal’, it is the nimble and digitally powered enterprise that is best placed to take advantage of new trends quicker, accelerate their lead over competitors and embrace the always evolving operating techniques which are key to survival. A better approach to tackling your digital transformation journey is starting with a self-sustaining operating model which empowers people, optimises processes and enables technology to create a truly resilient organisation.

By thinking about operating models as the key to unlocking a company’s digital destiny, we need to rethink how we structure them. Our people need to be organised into small, nimble and long lived cross functional ‘outcome’ based teams, who own and have end-to-end accountability for the customer or team based solution they steward.

Processes require realignment to fulfill specific internal facing and customer facing journeys, with all journeys sharing the same outcome based KPIs to maximise output and drive continuous improvement.

Finally, both our journeys and teams are enabled by best-in-breed cloud based digital technology that is modular and easily changeable as newer options become available over time, traditional long lived, and capex based, technology agreements that lock you into specific capabilities are an anti-pattern that can destroy competitive advantages from innovative teams.

While the above three approaches are key, an extra key ingredient is structuring your operating model using a series of loosely coupled yet tightly integrated components. Every component linking together in a way to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of value-chains while simultaneously providing superior experiences for customers and teams.

These components are best utilized in the form of modular building blocks which pull from the latest schools of thought, tooling, and techniques in’ Ways of Working’,’ Digital Experience’, ‘Solution Production & Automation’, ‘Actionable Insight’, and ‘Culture & Talent’.

Over time it’s inevitable that newer building blocks will be added, existing ones will grow, and some may be made redundant all together. As these changes naturally occur they trickle their evolved elements from top to bottom in an organisation as their thought leadership influences strategy. Simultaneously, they also bubble from the bottom to top as tools and techniques take on new functionality to meet new paradigms, affecting how we perform our day-to-day duties.

Since the operating model is made from the same blocks, when these two influences converge in the middle, they organically effect and enhance the operating model itself thus playing a key part in making it self sustaining and baking resiliency into the organisations DNA.

Another important element to a successful journey is how you go about your transformation.  We have developed a tried-and-tested framework for accelerating, de-risking and amplifying enterprise transformations. We call this our Momentum Framework. It is a five-phase roadmap of activities and data-driven processes for measuring maturity, capability and business value. This framework allows organisations to prove success before scaling an initiative, demonstrating ROI first and developing the right foundations for a more successful digital transformation.

Modularity

Modularity is also key when you start to plan and execute any operating model efforts.  .About two years ago we partnered with an Australian energy provider and assisted them to transform their ways of working,  lead their transformation program, and evolve their technology profile using the latest AWS cloud capabilities across compute and storage platforms, serverless tech, and managed cloud. One year ago we engaged with a large Australian based retail group to help evolve their technology strategy, design new team structures, benchmark their maturity and craft a roadmap to help uplift their capabilities.

Most recently we helped a major Australian insurance provider to define the value of cloud technology, implement a multi-mode operating model, and streamline areas of accountability across teams to maximise adoption. All of these engagements utilized different components and building blocks from the same ‘self sustaining’ operating model playbook, this is possible due to its componentised modularity. You  can pick and choose, and sometimes customise, elements to suit each organisation to ensure the best version is implemented based on their domain, maturity and needed journey without compromising ‘best practice’. This is key as it allows change to be more organic and ultimately bolster the success of your digital transformation efforts.

If we use the last example of our insurance provider we can tell this story end-to-end. Firstly we evaluate, analyse and benchmark against our Operating Model Outcome based KPIs (the dials we want to move in the right direction); we effectively ‘Align’ (the first phase of our momentum framework) on what the challenge is. Next we work together to create a small series of lean canvas style artefacts of the transformation, this ‘Plan’ aligns the organization and allows us to roadmap, visualize and communicate what good looks like around people, processes and tools & techniques.

We pick a specific set of test candidate areas to ‘Prove’ the vision we crafted together is correct. We re-architect a new value stream built around specific journeys, small end to end teams, and modern automated tech; then we execute. Together we reduced adoption/uplift time from several months down to a few weeks, increased team satisfaction and confidence, and ultimately enabled their technology to be more resilient, compliant and nimble. This success creates a pull mechanism across the business, making it easier to ‘Scale’ the Transformation out of these successful people, process and tool and technique changes across the rest of the organisation.

The final, and critical, component to successfully embarking on a digital transformation is the team who stewards your business on this long, challenging, and sometimes difficult journey. We’ve seen the squad model approach be the most successful, so much so we have made it key to our own operating model. A squad is a truly cross functional team, which comprises experts from all functional areas of the business to deliver holistic, measurable,  and meaningful outcomes for your transformation. By adopting this squad model, the team can support all elements of uplifting people, processes, and tools and techniques.

This article, written by John Knight,  was produced by Which-50’s Digital Intelligence Unit for Contino

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