Your business is not endurance fit when it comes to digital transformation.

4 min read

Your business is not endurance fit when it comes to digital transformation.

Data does not lie, so use data correctly

One of my biggest mistakes in training for the IRONMAN was not tracking my training and adjusting it in light of cold, hard facts and data. I had no idea if I was actually getting fitter, stronger or faster. In my line of work, I regularly see companies making these mistakes:

  • Not using data correctly by not utilising the data they have, or collecting vast amounts of data but then not using it effectively across the organisation.
  • Hiring the brightest of bright data scientists and then sticking them in a back room somewhere and ignoring them and their findings. Why bother? Data science and analytics insights should be as important to the CEO as the management accounts and financial reports.
  • For some reason, senior executives are often reluctant to make decisions based on hard facts, or someone doesn’t agree with the direction that the data is telling them to go. Politics and power plays start stifling or derailing data driven strategic digital growth.

All the gear and no idea:

Don’t adopt every possible type of technology just because you think you are supposed to. Not that long ago,  a client proudly declared to me that they had 12 apps for their staff, but couldn’t tell me how much they were being used or what impact on performance they had. During digital transformation it is possible to get side-tracked by the wrong things just because you think adding more tech to your digital transformation journey will magically solve your business problems. When competing in IRONMAN, it’s easy to be seduced by all the fancy new gadgets and gear but you actually derail your race because you don’t need half of it.

At IRONMAN on race day, there’s always that one guy with the most lightweight carbon-fibre time trial bike but is 15kg’s overweight. The bike won’t make him go faster because it’s his bodyweight that’s going to slow him down. As an organisation, tech won’t help if you’re bad at the basics. Fix the basics first.

Train in all areas:

An IRONMAN includes a Swim, a Bike and a Run. All are important aspects of the race. You cannot train in isolation, you have to train in parallel. Likewise, corporates need to focus on all areas of digital transformation and avoid transformation in silos.

Digital transformation is not a technology issue, it’s a company issue. It is not something that sits in IT as a technology project.  It is a finance issue, HR issue, marketing issue, product issue, service issue and people issue. It dissects the length and breadth of your business in its entirety. And while your transformation in those areas happens, it needs to be worked on in parallel in the areas of talent, leadership and most importantly, culture. Like a Rubik’s Cube, if you move one block it affects all the others.

Understand the culture logic in your organisation

I believe culture needs to be specifically highlighted here. Just like in IRONMAN, you cannot win the race in the swim, but you can lose the race on the run. Getting to grips on culture is like owning your run in your race.

Transformation means change. In most cases, change creates the perception of an ‘unsafe’ environment. For example, transformation could change relationships you depend on - unsafe! Policies you might have understood change - unsafe! New strategies that impact your ability to sell or impact your commission or bonus structures – unsafe!

When transformation affects company culture in a way that makes people feel unsafe, companies risk their employees becoming emotionally detached. Emotional detachment is the silent killer of digital transformation and the cost is high to both individual and company, specifically in this day and age where employers often demand more for less. A good company culture is essential.

For over twenty years, New York Times bestselling author, Stan Slap, has pioneered thought leadership about business culture. Stan and his company were thinking deeply about culture long before everyone was talking about it. Clarkhouse Human Capital has a long-standing relationship with Stan, and we’ve partnered with him in recent months to advise blue-chip South African companies on how get their culture right.

Stan maintains thatculture is the most overused yet least understood concept in business. As a result, the potential of what it can deliver for the enterprise is underestimated.

According to Stan, ‘Your culture will give you whatever you want. You just have to give it what it wants first. It is not the responsibility of your culture to understand the business’s logic; it is the responsibility of your business to understand the culture’s logic.’

From a manager culture perspective, the biggest concern should be gaining emotional commitment from employees, which is worth more than financial, intellectual and physical commitment combined. From an employee culture perspective, the biggest concern should be ensuring that strategies are implemented according to plan, which requires the culture’s willingness to protect those strategies, course-correct them and evangelize them.

How often do you see digital transformation strategies losing momentum? Learn the logic of your employee and management cultures, give those cultures what they want, and your digital transformation strategy will succeed.

It’s not hard to imagine a dystopian future where the rise of digital and data means that technology displaces human commitment and craft, but the simple truth is that human resources will always be one of the organisations most important drivers and ultimately determine its success. And despite uncertainty and fear around digital transformation, the positive changes it brings will result in something far greater: more humanity in the workplace working towards a better world.

Roy Clark has completed numerous IRONMAN 70,3 Triathlons in Durban and East London as well a full IRONMAN Africa Port Elizabeth race. He is a complete amateur triathlete but a professional Human Capital expert. LOL.