I recently sent some of my clients a link to a recent Harvard Business Review article that poses this same question specifically about digital transformation. Tech/digital change is something that any thriving business will be going through forever. Digital speeds up our change and keeps it happening….
As my clients quickly identified, they ‘knew’ some of the people and had similar issues in their teams. In the article by Nathan Furr, Jur Gaarlandt, and Andrew Shipilov, they give us a choice of leaders:
• The Insider with a proven track record but doesn’t know much about digital
• The Young Digital Guru who’s just led a new category expansion at Amazon
• The Sharp ex-consultant with experience advising clients on digital
Whom would you pick to lead a team that is meant to transform the way your customers do business with your company? Or how your processes and data are managed – across your entire business?
The young digital guru knows ‘the space,’ has experience at a world-class high-tech company with all the credentials, and led a successful team there. She’s young and unencumbered by old ways of thinking and working.
The consultant who has advised the highest levels of businesses might be the ‘right guy.’ He’s worked with senior executives at all kinds of companies and has the ‘chops’ to show people how to get it done.
The ‘insider’ delivers but has no digital experience. She’ll be on a steep learning curve on the subject. Seems she might be the weakest choice, right?
Of course, without knowing the business, the candidates, or the culture, we cannot know truly who would be right. As the article points out, the mindset and skillset to truly help an organization transform has nothing to do with technical or technological capability. Sometimes that makes a leader less open to new ideas, as they think their own knowledge and ideas are better.
Here’s the rub. The consultant might be a great addition to the team for strategic planning and stakeholder management. But he’s never delivered anything and has no experience leading teams. The digital guru might be a great teammate for helping with the tech, best practices, and attracting great talent. But she hasn’t really had to influence people, teams, and departments of legacy, long-term employees who are used to their ways of working. Her experience is with techies who love change and largely start with a clean sheet of paper. There is a great opportunity for a lack of mutual empathy and misalignment. Resistance kills speed and momentum.
Your best change leaders may be right under your roof. When you have the opportunity to empower someone who knows your company - the fabric, the culture, the fears and doubts, the org chart as well as the power map, then your project will likely succeed. They have a network. They build alliances. They speak the language, and they have credibility. Look inside for your brilliant change agents, and be sure that they connect, listen and learn before taking any other action.
I’ve engaged Third Level with multiple teams over 12 years and we continue to generate exceptional business results. I see the program as my gift for all those who I’ve worked with and led. Without exception they feel much better about themselves and the world they live in – delivering more through improving satisfaction and engagement as leaders and teams.
I am a better leader, husband and father as a result of the work I do with Third Level.
Nick Williams Deputy Director, Group TransformationLloyds Banking Group
You managed to take a healthy, vibrant, and talented team to a new level of commitment to their careers, their lives and each other. Each member of our top management team has thanked me for the experience and related that this has been one of the best professional experiences of their lives. The outcome was clearly of great benefit to my businesses over the years. We identify issues that probably wouldn’t have surfaced for two years, saving ourselves at least five times our investment with you. And we are solving problems and confronting issues much more quickly. Our foundation of trust has grown quickly. More recently, the Fascination profile has helped us understand and collaborate far more quickly together as new teams form, and decision-making progresses.
Gary Press President,ARS and Chairman, Lifestyle Media Group