Digital transformation. We’ve heard a lot about this topic in the past several years, and especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. While many organizations have at least begun their transformation to some degree to stay competitive, very few (14%) have transformed sufficiently to be considered digital leaders.
Why is the progress towards digital transformation so slow? One reason is that so many business leaders become overwhelmed with the thought of digital transformation, believing it to be a very difficult process that takes years and is dependent on technology.
A recent Google survey of 40 Fortune 1000 business leaders and marketing professionals found that altering the organizational structure was a more effective and efficient component of digital transformation than technology. The two changes these leaders emphasized were establishing a collaborative team structure and providing a flexible work environment that’s amenable to experimentation.
Establishing a collaborative team structure
Successful organizational leadership is more about collaboration these days, rather than talented individuals. Digital transformation is more likely in an organization where leadership is aligned with business-wide teams and focuses on shared goals. It is easier when leaders provide guidance to their teams towards one direction, rather than trying to juggle multiple initiatives all at once. Integrating a traditional team with a digital team can lead to a single high-performing unit.
Close collaboration between the CIO and CFO provides clarity and leadership commitment. As day-to-day decisions are often made by the CMO, CEO, chief digital officer and marketing operations head, collaboration on digital competence fosters stronger business decisions and can lead to new developmental prospects.
Providing a flexible work environment that’s amenable to experimentation
As we learned during the COVID pandemic, businesses must be able to pivot quickly when the situation demands it. Survey respondents said that flexibility is one of the most important factors for successful teams. Being able to adopt new strategies, try out new methods and procedures and adapt the structure of teams can lead to growth, even when times are less certain.
Flexibility is also important with budgeting. Survey respondents said that when they provide room for flexibility in their annual budgets, they are better able to respond to changes during the year.
Leaders should not only accept experimentation, they should embrace and encourage it. Providing and encouraging learning opportunities is also an important characteristic of effective leadership. Innovation comes from people at all levels looking for a better way to do things and finding solutions.