I’ve been quite firm on my view that creating a culture capable of delivering disruption (or radical business development) can only succeed if the Board of Directors as well as the CEO supports this wholeheartedly and show the organization the way forward. And I still believe this is the fastest way of moving an entire organization towards a new horizon and ultimately securing the survival of the firm

However, a part of running a successful business now and in the future, is also being very realistic about the company’s internal and external capabilities which more often than not renders the above too optimistic. I’m not saying that the Board or the CEO would be against the development and organizational change, I’m stating that in the ‘real world’, internal organizational inertia and intra-political considerations will make the ‘all-in’ approach very difficult and facing much resistance

Introducing the Trojan Horse

A way of beginning the inevitable journey of digital transformation can be to create a digital unit directly under the CEO and giving the digital unit the business development responsibility for all lines and divisions in the company. This is nothing new, but I believe the thoughts about performance management and shared targets are. A vital key to the success of this is to create shared targets on both sides of the digital business unit

In effect this means that the digital business unit must deliver digital process and product innovations based on targets of deliveries and cooperation with the existing IT organization on one side and revenue and / or savings targets in cooperation with the business units on the other side. The key to the overall success is setting those targets in a way where all involved parties are directly responsible for delivering on them

It makes no sense to set targets that can only be fulfilled by one of the parties or setting targets that are not shared in the sense that one unit can blame the other unit for not doing their part of the job – targets should be set so they ‘force’ the units to cooperate instead of finding loop-holes where the other party can be blamed

I know I’m being very direct and I know this is required if shared targets are to succeed – there are taboos in all organizations that must be addressed for this to work. Management must openly discuss obstacles and internal politics to be managed before rolling the shared target model out. On a lighter note, once the digital unit, IT and business start to deliver, the organization will realize the value of the transition and most likely be less resistant, also because this model involves a large part of the organization either directly or indirectly

This is not the text-book way forward, but it’s a pragmatic way that should deliver results fairly quickly and open up for further digital development within the organization once the results start showing. It’s a doable compromise

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