0 comments on “Great Books on Designing Work in the Digital Age”

Great Books on Designing Work in the Digital Age

During 2018 I become unsure if “management” is still a thing. I was suspicious of the word “leadership” before – after all, there are far more people wanting to lead than to those who want to follow.

The aspect of management which become suspect to me is the notion that people must be managed. Things surely need to be organized in order to reach anything meaningful but do people need to be managed? Isn’t it enough to build an environment where people can prosper and organize themselves as deem best to reach the target of the company?  Is the provision of an organizational environment still management or should it better be called work design?

Now, on the 1st of January 2019, I tend towards ditching the term “management” and talk about “work-design” more. Words matter and people often have either a negative connotation of management or an attitude towards management that leads to overbearing behavior.

In the digital age is might often be wiser to think of yourself as a work-designer than a manager.

That way you might keep yourself from interfering too much.

New Years Day is a great time to reflect on the past year. As most of my time in 2018 has been devoted to reading and writing about “organizing companies in the digital age”, I decided to update my list of favorite books on this big topic.  The ones that most influenced my thinking can be found on top of the list

GreatBooks.png

Legend:

  • Grey Background: Essential Reads
  • Yellow Highlight: New Entries in 2018
  • Green Highlight: Books which I came to value more in 2018 – they took time to take root in my thoughts
  • Red Highlights: Books which I came to value less in 2018 – these are still very good books, though

Books that Describe the Workings of the Individual Mind

This Category is about Mindfulness,  Vulnerability, Bias,  Mental Focus and all those things that make up the intrinsic motivation of people. What has proved to be quite consequential in my daily work is “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. I think that the ability to deeply focus is not only a personal working technique – it is a quintessential design criterion of an organization seeking to maximize improve knowledge work.

Books about Teams

Oh my, how many years did I delay reading the works of Robert J. Hackman. His work has been cited so often and everywhere, that I thought I already knew everything Mr. Hackman had to teach. How mistaken have I been! “Leading Teams” by Robert J. Hackman is a must read. As is Amy Edmondson’s “Teaming”, which is delivering important underpinnings to ones understanding of teams from the realm of psychology.

“SCRUM” by Jeff Sutherland is still a great book, but I became a lot more skeptical about the rigidity of the method and the dogmatic way SCRUM it is used. SCRUM is so often executed with no understanding to its inner working, that it lends itself pretty well to being corrupted with the conventional, corrosive workings of excessive power differentials between people. Often SCRUM becomes a method of exploitative productivity rather than customer value and excellence.

Books about Organization

Henry Mintzberg fortified his position on the top spot in my mind in this category with his extremely wise book “Simply Managing”. I don’t think that anyone will come close to that. But be warned: Simply Managing does not, despite the title, supply any recipe for management. Rather, you will end up not knowing what to do now in face of all the complexity.

The same feeling will haunt you after you have finished Philp Rosenzweig’s “The Halo Effect”: Crushing complexity and no easy solutions.  Do not despair – hope is just two columns to the right: Liberated Companies.

Books about Digitalization

So many things are written about Digitalization, yet so little new is added. Over the last year, I came to value the challenges posed by the intersection of technological challenges (Companies IT-infrastructure and IT-Architectures) and the way that people are organized more and more: The collaboration of Man and Machine. I came to value these seemingly so techie topics of “DevOps” and “Continous Delivery” even more. Although the understanding of those topics requires quite a bit of insight on the work of software engineers, I believe more and more that there is no alternative for managers than to understand tech.

Digitalization without understanding Technology from a genuine Technology perspective is crucial –  a User/ Strategist/Entrepreneur perspective alone is not enough.

Managers, Organizers, Work designer – however, you might call them to need to immerse themselves in the realm of technology or be left out.

Sorry about that, you techno-agnostic writers on digitalization or you organizational psychologists. It far from “nerdy” to know what “DevOps” is. I am convinced that understanding concepts like DevOps is a necessity is a technology to lead companies in a technology-saturated world.

Books about Liberated Companies

What Laloux manages to deliver on examples and theories, Peter Block underpins with spiritual insight in “Stewardship“. The discovery of the word “spiritual” was central for me in 2018, as all more advanced organizations need people to hold open space where performance can prosper, where people can self-direct themselves more.  And the conviction that “holding open a space for self-management” is worthwhile doesn’t come out of the blue. It is, strangely enough, a spiritual process.

Now, “spiritual” is not a word often used in management literature. Yet a state of mind naturally precedes any action. A wonderful example which is focused on ACTION but is essentially a spiritual journey is delivered by David Marquet’s “Turn the Ship Around“. A book about a nuclear attack submarine and its crew – a setting like in a Tom Clancy thriller.

If you want something futuristic to read, read Yangfeng Cao’s “The Haier Model”: Haier’s organizational model is probably the most sophisticated company on earth.

Books About Work Designs

The skeleton of today’s companies is the hierarchy and the process. With self-management on the rise, the hierarchy will be replaced with work-designs that ensure checks and balances that allow people to govern themselves. Some of these work designs can be gleaned from the books on Liberated Companies or Teams. Deeper insights into microstructures that make up work can be found in books like “Liberating Structures” from Keith McCandless et al. It is full of practical recipes, too.

Books about Strategy

A company is a purposeful system and cannot be seen disconnected from its purpose. That is why understanding strategy is important for anyone in charge of organizing. A strategy is nothing else than the way for a company to work towards its purpose. Therefore, read Henry Mintzberg’s “Strategy Safari” if you want to manage purposefully – and you want to show those consultants of McKinsey’s and Boston Consulting Group how outdated their analytical way of approaching strategy really is.

Books about Data Science

In a VUCA World, it is indispensable to get a grip on understanding and using uncertainty to the advantage of a company. Running experiments will never suffice is not supported by the capability to understand such thing as volatility, variance, covariance and the difference between causation and correlation.

Nissam Taleb’s “The Black Swan” focusses one’s views on the things that really matter, i.e. when events occur that may be very unlikely but have so much impact, that all other event’s do to really matter.

On the other hand, the small events matter, too, especially in those shorter time frames that most companies use to focus on.  Nate Silver’s “The Signal and The Noise” is still my favorite classic for this field. It has very practical implications for the set-up of teams, technology, and processes.

Books about the Digital Age

I read Kevin Kelly’s “What Technology Wants” for a second time in 2018 because I was looking for an answer to the question “What does Technology want from Companies?”. A strange question at first glance, but I suspect that the impact that technology, the cooperation of Men and Machine, has on human collaboration is still undervalued.

In the Digital Age companies must not only solve the problem of human engagement – they must solve the problem of human-machine engagement, too

A special mention goes to “White Working Class” from Joan Williams for explaining the downsides of globalization and digitalization:  The divide of society into many have-nots and the few prosperous.  This economic and cultural divide cannot be solved by Silicon Valley’s Elitism.

Biographies – Long, Deep Reads

Last not least I have added my three favorite biographies that shaped by view on many of the topics of work design:

  • Seize the Fire” by Adam Nicholson – how Lord Nelson, 1st Sealord of the British Admiralty made the Navy. Fundamentally, a book about intrinsic motivation.
  • “The One Best Way” by Robert Kanigel – a biography of the “worlds first business consultant” Frederick Taylor. He came up with “Scientific Management”, which still dominates companies today. A voluminous book about a thinking process which went on around 1900 and  is to thank and to blame for today’s, often inhuman and underperforming state of companies
  • “The Undoing Project” by star-author Michael Lewis – a biography of the collaboration between Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahnemann, two of the most important organizational psychologists.  The essence, as I see it,  is: We can’t trust our brain and judgment alone. Human judgement benefits from checks and balances that companies may weave into their work designs.

That’s my year 2018 in books. Let me know what you read and have been fascinated by! I sincerely like to hear from you.

Have a Liberating 2019!

___

Next post will be continuing the long series on “Effective Teams” – to be found in your mailbox at the end of January.

0 comments on “Silicon Valley Clowns and their Fanboys”

Silicon Valley Clowns and their Fanboys

After absorbing the N’th podcast/video/article of some random guy who used to work in Silicon Valley bragging about disruption and boldness, I couldn’t stand the platitudes anymore. I couldn’t help but be making a checklist on how to recognize a Silicon Valley Clown:

scc.png

I guess you can add to this list.

What really annoys me about this kind of talking are three points:

A. Just because you have worked in the Valley doesn’t prove anything

Remember: Most Start-ups fail and there is not always learning involved. Not seldom, it is just silly. In our days there is a lot of money around that wants to be spent in hope for the next unicorn.

And if you worked for some poster company (Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Tesla, etc.): Congrats, you have been a corporate robot, like so many of us. Does this make you an expert on innovation? I do not think so.

B. Snake oil traders selling to the Hinterland

It’s all Sales. Skim through the table above and look for a pattern: Name dropping, impressive insider wording, the time spent traveling and networking. There is just one job where you can do these things consistently: Sales.

There is nothing wrong with being a Salesperson. The danger is that that kind of persons usually become the trusted advisor to CEO’s, in roles like Chief Digital Officer, Chief Innovation Manager, etc. So you got a Sales guy trying to orchestrate all the aspects of a thing as complex as digitalization AND a resource-rich but fundamentally disoriented CEO listening to him.

Good luck with that!

C. Focussing on the Obvious while remaining Oblivious to Deep Challenges

Everyone knows that digitalization will fundamentally transform businesses. It is just that the term “fundamentally transform” is often interpreted in a very narrow sense -like this:

  • Building up new streams of revenue by investing in start-ups
  • Old Business Models die, new ones that involve more Technology and Data come up
  • All this happens real fast in an uncertain environment, so I better get my organization agile

That’s a consensus view, right? The trouble is, the transformation is much deeper than this.

  • With an ever-accelerating rate of change, the race to build up new start-ups faster than the old business dies is doomed from the start: If maturing start-ups experience the same organizational sclerosis than traditional companies, these “throwaway companies” cost too much investment for a shorter and shorter pay-back period
  • Digital Technology and high rate of changes make every front-line worker to a Knowledge Worker. Hand on Heart: The overwhelming number of companies and managers never did a good job managing knowledge workers
  • All this agile and lean entrepreneurial stuff will not work, without trust, transparency and finally the acceptance of vulnerability of humans. Without that – my dear Cowboy CDO/CEO-  people will never open up. Without open communication, groups of people can never be innovative, and the pace of learning will be dismal

Face the deep challenges… or else

So the deep challenges are

  1. Building companies that last and avoid instititional sclerosis
  2. Learning to see everyone as Knowledge Worker
  3. Step away from the Cowboy Style of Leadership and becoming a Servant Leader

That’s why I believe organizations need to move towards more Self-Management. To rely on the fickle whims of an autocrat, which any manager with the hire and firepower is, is fundamentally not good enough to let people open up and be innovative.

So the hierarchy has got to retreat. It does not need to disappear, it just needs to fade more into the background.  There needs to be more checks and balances on hierarchical power.

Is that the silver bullet, the hierarchy needs to take a back seat? As always, it’s just one element.

But it might just be the one that requires the most time and is the hardest to pull off, as it requires such a broad mind shift in managers and people. A mind shift that goes against the command and control we all learned in school and experience in the business.

On the other hand: Ugh, that’s tough. Maybe you should just continue wasting your time with your Silicon Valley Clown, you (CEO) fanboy.

___

Sources: 

Here are some legacy posts which you might find helpful:

What kind of Organization do modern Companies aspire to be? – how companies like Amazon or Netflix do it

The Startup Way by Eric Ries – Book review – how not to do it

The World’s Leading Hedgefund is Relying on Key Principles of Self-Managed Organizations – how an arch-capitalist is embracing vulnerability

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 comments on “33 Books on Digital Transformation”

33 Books on Digital Transformation

There are many sources about Digital Transformation of Businesses. But which one’s fit your needs? Those aimed at how to transform Operations or those how to create new Products? Those about Business or those aimed at an IT audience? Here is some advice where insights can be found for your information needs.

Quadrant 1: Transformation of Operations

Most Literature on Digitalization is really about how to come up with great, innovative products. There is fewer – and much less popular literature – on the way that Operations can be transformed by digital Technologies. Understandably, the prospect of inventing your way to the next big thing attracts many more readers that changing something existing.

Out of all sources i have read so far i would recommend to read Team of Teams by Stanley Mac Chrystal et al. It is not only an entertaining read, but it shows so much of the value of less hierarchical, network based organizational models, driven by a common mission and a shared understanding of data.

0 comments on “Bring it on! The 2016+ Challenge”

Bring it on! The 2016+ Challenge

2016 was a very special year in so many aspects. Trump, Brexit, Terror, Wars & Refugee’s, the resurgence of authoritarian leaders, Zero Interest Economics, the beginning of the post-factual age etc. All these effects and causes contribute to high levels of uncertainty. Despite most economic and social indicators, pointing upwards with record low or reduced unemployment in many countries, the feeling of uncertainty prevails – in an almost post-factual manner. The media seems to be the message, finally.

0 comments on “Abundance will transform the world”

Abundance will transform the world

If the classical models of organization are not sufficient to withstand the challenges of a more digital, faster and uncertain world: Which organizational model is? Imitating silicon valley may do the trick for software companies, but which model should a company choose in other sectors? One option is to transform into an “exponential organization”.

0 comments on “Going digital? Learn the economic laws of Information first”

Going digital? Learn the economic laws of Information first

Digitalization! A battle cry in most companies these days. Before entering this battle, managers should know that even so economic rules have not changed, economic factors costs have changed dramatically. Hal Varian, nowadays chief economist at Google, explains the impacts.

HV

0 comments on “Growth is dead – the digital revolution won’t help”

Growth is dead – the digital revolution won’t help

Forget the notion of a new digital age setting the developed world on a new growth path. Most important innovations have already been made. All what the digital revolution has to offer is just the icing on the cake. It is shiny and nice, but does not matter so much. Does it?

The world is in better shape than ever before e. Most indicators point upward: Wealth, Income, Health etc.  But will this trend continue in the developed world? After all, the only chance to grow in the already developed world is by technical progress, mainly driven by digital technologies.

According to Robert J. Gordon, one of the worlds leading experts in forecasting economic growth, GDP growth in the US will likely osciliate at just 0,8% for the foreseeable future. This low growth number is not only caused by less impact of technological progress, but is linked to rising inequality, deterioration of the education system, rising debt and demographics lowering the participation rate in the labor market.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-05-30 um 13.26.59.png

The whole developed world will properly not do better. That is a shock to all “techno-optimists”, who claim that the digital revolution will change everything. Whatever the digital revolution will change, it will not, according to Mr. Gordon, increase economic growth much.

You can only invent so much

In his excellent book The end of American Growth (see sources) Mr. Gordon takes an look at the history of the first (1830+ e.g. steam engine), second (1870+e.g. cars, telephone) and third (1995+ e.g. PC, Internet) industrial revolution. He comes up with the conclusion that todays digital revolution will not impact growth much. Why?

Not all inventions have the same impact on growth

The impact on growth of the inventions of the second industrial revolution have been immense. Take housing: Water supply, sewers, central heating, telephones, radios.  Electricity enabling food storage by refrigeration and replacing tedious homework such as washing – thereby liberating woman to participate in the work force. Every house was connected to a central grid supplying these amenities. By 1910 nearly all american households, with the exception of some parts in the rural south, were hooked up to this grid.

Quality of life improved by a measure never achieved before or thereafter. Gone were the days of hunger and sickness. Life expectancy exploded from 47 in 1900 to 71 in 1970, not too far from the 78 years now in 2016. In fact after 1970, so Robert J. Gordon, the grandest inventions have been made and adopted by the overwhelming majority of people in the US. Every new invention after that was nice, such as micro waves or mobile phones, but were not as revolutionary as the ones done before. After all, you could cook and phone before, just not as conveniently.

Same goes for cars. The number of cars per household in the US has peaked about 1970, dropping ever since. The total number of cars is still increasing, as single households got more prominent, but the growth was limited after 1970. Even as early as in the 1920’s cars were very much comparable to the modern cars today. Cars are much more comfortable, reliable and safe today, but they still serve the same needs as in the 1920: Individual transport. How much has the invention of the automatic transmission, the air bag or navigational system impacted growth? Not much, compared to the invention of the car in its entirety before.

Same for air travel. With the invention of the Boeing 707 in 1958 air travel was set at 950km/h . Speed has not changed since. Costs have dropped at the price of some  convenience in seating. Again, what is the growth effect of electronic boarding cards? Not much.

It seems that technological progress is subject to diminishing returns. In other words: Technological progress advances societies immensely at first, but as the most critical needs are served, less and less thereafter.

How much money do you spend on digital technologies?

 An average US Household spends about 7% of its disposable income for entertainment and communication. This includes all land line and mobile phones, internet, cloud services for music, apps, films, tickets for cinemas, sports or cultural events, leisure travel, restaurants, etc.

93 percent of household income is still on mundane matters such as housing (about 20%), transportation, health etc. One may conclude that the economic impact of the digital revolution on households expenditure is much smaller then the impact of the technologies invented in in the second industrial revolution has been.

But surely, digital technology is everywhere, hidden inside the expenditures for housing, transportation, health etc. there is digital technology. Often unseen by the consumer, hidden inside the production process. Is it?

The impact of digital technologies may be less then we usually expect. According to Nobel prize winner Robert Solow in 1987:

You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.

Conclusion: The end of growth?

The economic data, that Robert J. Gordon provides, speaks clearly. Growths has been low since 1970 and continues to fall over time ever since. Comuter technology and todays digitalization contribute to growth, but have not enough impact to stop this trend.

Humankinds material needs might have been served to a large extend already (in the developed world) and the next frontier are our immaterial needs. May be not only the limited resources of the world are limiting growth, as prophezied by the Club of Rome in 1972, but also the demand side is not craving for more goods.

But there are two caveats to this:

First of all, the measurement itself might not be right. GDP (Gross domestic product) is not easy to measure and measures just what is bought and sold in the market. But we are getting a lot of things of significant value virtually for free with internet services like messaging, information, navigation, entertainment for free. The internet economy is not easy to measure by the standards of classical GDP statistics.

Second, the impact of digitalization might be delayed still. That is the viewpoint of the „technooptimists“ such as Eric Brynjolfson (see sources). Take the example of the impact of electricity on shop floors. Electricity was invented in 1880 and quickly adopted inside homes: Electrical lights were by 1910 ubiquitous in american homes. But the adotion of electrical power to the shop floor, allowing totaly new shop floor layouts, boosting productivity immensely,  took until about 1930.

We might be on the verge of a fourth major industrial revolution. This industrial revolution might just be delayed, as we do not know how to apply digital technologies correctly yet. We do not know how to change organizations for digitalization. We do not know how to work in any way else then we currently organizing, managing and working.

Chances are, humankind will learn to organize itself socially and economically in such a way as to get the most out of the new technologies.

Something to look forward to.

Something to explore.

0 comments on “What makes Digitalization different from “ordinary” business transformation?”

What makes Digitalization different from “ordinary” business transformation?

Transformation is the art of changing something from status A to status B, given a significantly big scale of change. In an enterprise context single projects would not be seen as delivering “change” but not “transformation”,  but a group of interconnected projects bundled in a program would usually be expected to result in “transformation”. There is no clear border that separates “change” from “transformation”, but anyone in possession of wisdom and humility would only make scarce use of the label “transformation”.

The object of a business transformation is a company. A company can be broken down – using a simplified version of McKinsey’s 7S Framework –  in people, organization, processes and systems. An important view of the company, as all 4 aspects will be transformed by digitalization.

Digitalization itself can be broken down into 5 forces:

  • Use of Information Technology
  • Customer Centricity
  • Big data
  • More empowered work organizations
  • A set of cultural values (more or less derived from silicon valleys famous frontrunners)

What separates traditional transformation from digital transformation is the importance attached to these 5 forces of digitalization. These forces are mutually interconnected and grow in strength by acting together. They act like a perfect storm, causing the business revolution which has been hyped in internet bubble until 2001 and which is finally here to stay.

The five forces of digitalization come in such a combination and strength, that existing business models are destroyed and new ones are created. These forces change the competitive position a company is in. A company will likely go into decline with competitors overtaking them, if failing to transform into something new.

A “competitive position” is – according to corporate strategy guru Michael E. Porter Michael E. Porter – determined by 5 competitive forces: Threat of new market entries, buyer power, threat of product substitution, supplier power and competitive rivalry with other companies. If any of these “competitive forces” change in strength or direction, a company needs to react.

Porters 5 competitive forces have been around basically since people have been trading flint stones. What is really new is that the IT revolution has now reached such a scale to impact culture massively. This can be measured by market capitalization of companies created the last 20 years vs. the “old economy”, the ubiquitous nature of IT in everyones daily life and last not least the broad public acceptance of the existence of an IT revolution even by not technology minded people.

The accepted game changer in competitive strategy is now the use of IT technology, but not in its bare form, e.g. “lets replace paper”, but in the form of “Digitalization”. And “Digitalization” in turn is nothing else than a combination of the 5 Digitalization forces listed. Forces which have been unleashed by a revolution in Information Technology are now revolutionizing work organizations and cultural values – not only in companies, but in human culture overall.

Lets have a look at the five forces of digitalization of businesses one after the other – starting with the “root” force: Information Technology.

0 comments on “The sheer size of the digital revolution”

The sheer size of the digital revolution

Is Digitalization real? Of course IT is present everywhere in our daily lives, everywhere globally. But how big of a deal is it? Lets answer this by looking at market evaluations of still privately held tech start-ups compared to the old economy.

Lets start with Uber, the ride sharing app. Uber has been worth about 51 Billion Dollars at the end of July 2015. That is a very steep price for a ride sharing app. Stock valuations have been hyped before and bubble may burst. Is Uber’s valuation just an outlier, not representative for the digital revolution? Lets have a look at the most valuable privately held companies in January 2015:

Uber is still big, but there are newer companies with already massive valuations. Who has heard of Xaomi? Xamoi (translated into english “little Rice”) is a chinese mobile phone manufacturer how is an excellent example of digitalization – a case studied in an upcoming post. While Uber may still be overrated, there are others to fill the place. And Uber does not appear too overrated when compared to public tech companies by December 2014.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-10-27 um 08.25.51

After all, Uber is aiming to be the company claiming the lead position in the transportation market. Similar to amazon, which is the place to go for shopping, Uber is poised to be the place to go for transportation needs – globally.

But all tech stocks may be overvalued. After all, in an era of near 0% interest rates all this cheap money is inflating assest evaluation. But this money is inflating the value of the “old economy” too. Already at the end of 2014 Uber has been worth more than 72% of the worlds most valued companies (the Fortune 500). These include household names such as Kraft, Hertz, Halliburton, KKR, Hilton etc.

In July 2014 50% of the top 10 most valued US companies are tech companies. Not over-hyped companies like possibly Uber, but companies that are here to stay: Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon. The smallest of them, Amazon, has been valued at nearly 248 Billion $ in July 2014 and is at the time i write this (28th October) valued at 285 Billion $ (click here for current valuation of Amazon). The old economy, even “old” tech companies like Intel or Oracle, are left in the dust.

The absolute height of the market capitalization is likely to be a bubble. Even the relative evaluation of tech companies vs. others is likely in for a correction. But given the track history of tech companies over the last 20 years and the just unfolding potential of information technology, we are looking at single companies been thrown back into obscurity, but the “new economy” is here to stay.

Not only the size of market capitalization points towards the existence of a digital revolution. According to Innosquare, the lifespan of a Standard & Poor 500 Company measured by the time listed in the S&P 500 Index went down from 61 years in 1958 to 18 years in 2013. At the current rate, all S&P companies will be replaced by new ones in 2027. Most of these vanishing companies leave the S&P 500 Index as they are bought through Mergers and Acquisition (see “The mortality of companies“, a 2015 study). This however is likely to be more correlated to the massive modern financial markets, cheap money and capitalisms incentives towards ever more Mergers & Acquisitions. But without deploying digitalization as a tool to increase market capitalization, a company will rather sooner than later fall prey to a takeover.

So what’s in for a traditional company? Digital transformation obviously offers tremendous potential for growth and profit. But after all, digital is a tool and – according to Bill Gates: “A fool with a tool is still a fool”. Key is to learn why, how and when to use these tools in an orchestrated manner. Alas, this is what this blog is all about.

0 comments on “Digitalization and Business Transformation: 21st Century key challenges”

Digitalization and Business Transformation: 21st Century key challenges

So much noise about the digital business revolution! Looking for the signal in all that noise? This blog tries to separate hyperbole from facts.

images

Digitalization is creating a business environment of super competition. Conventional organizational models fail – established corporations can’t match the speed and therefore the success of their digital competitors. These days success depends more and more on businesses having a strong, customer centric digital DNA embedded in company practices and cultures. But what exactly should the organization transform to? And even if this target is clear, how should a company manage its transformation? These are two main questions of our decade, if not the main questions, corporations are puzzled about, irrespective of sector or geography.

If you are interested in these questions, this blog is for you. I will attempt to shed some light on what I perceive to be key challenges, concepts and approaches to digital transformation. The subject is big, so let me try to map out the journey in three way points:

  1. First, lets have a look on why digital transformation is different from business transformation in previous decades.
  2. Then I will focus on these differences first, their challenge to established business practice and hints how to tackle them.
  3. Finally we will going to work towards a cohesive, holistic framework to digital business transformation by adapting or revolutionizing current business transformation practices.

And of course: It is quite a personal take, a mashup on digital transformation. But I will build it on empirical evidence, a hoard of well accepted best practices and on accepted academic theories or business practioneer views, mentioning and collecting sources for you to refer to along the way. Truth is an elusive thing, so get engaged and slam my views by commenting: Hypothesis and Falsification is still the way to enhance knowledge!

My personal views are – for good or bad – influenced by my background and values. Let me shortly elaborate on this so that you know where i am coming from:

  • I studied economics in Germany and Scotland and hold a university degree in economics.
  • Specialized in empirical organizational theory during my studies and stayed with this pet subject ever since.
  • Had a strong exposure to IT as I started my career doing global ERP implementations and ventured into the start-up sphere building platforms and market places.
  • Spend 15 years in consulting all over the world, mainly as a program manager for major transformation projects of international clients within automotive, manufacturing, telecom and retail.
  • Have been a managing director for the last 5 years for a mid sized (about 920 MEuro) fashion retailer.

FT-177-Bearbeitet Kopie

As i focused so long on business transformation, the one constant over the whole period, I am subject to use the jargon of a manager and a consultant. Should you find yourself a victim of that just write a comment and I will try to explain and correct.

Hope you find the content useful and the journey entertaining!