Newest insights on leading a Digital Business Transformation according to IMD

Hellon's Transformation team lead Kirsikka Vaajakallio attended IMD's Leading Digital Business Transformation program in Switzerland to learn what are the newest insights for leaders when executing a successful transformation. Below Kirsikka shares her key learnings from IMD.

The week focused on how to succeed in digital business transformation and was packed with the latest research and industry case examples. Kiriskka will share in this Momentum journal a few key takeaways to inspire and provoke thoughts. The order of insights follows roughly the steps of the digital business transformation journey.

1: The Why, the What, the How – identifying the purpose before actions

In turbulent times as we are living now, the vision and clear why behind it, is more critical than ever. While the companies may not (and perhaps should not) have a detailed plan, having a clear vision and purpose will guide the transformational journey. Assess opportunities and threats in your business environment. Are there disruptions the companies should react to? Why there is a need to transform? Choose the appropriate digital strategy, and how to differentiate to understand what to transform. And finally, plan how do you align the organisation to execute the transformation?

2: Digital Business Agility and Strategic Agility – finding a balance between robustness and agility

Ensure the ability to respond and react to digital disruption by comprising three needed capabilities: Being hyperaware to detect and monitor changes in your business environment. Turning data and observations into informed decision-making for the best decisions in a given situation. And carry out your plans quickly and effectively. To operate in disruptive, volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments, digital business agility is not enough, you need a certain level of robustness too. The six principles of strategic agility - speed, flexibility, diversification, empowerment, learning, and resource modularity - allow you to avoid, absorb and accelerate shocks.

3: People First – always start with your customers

Prioritize a customer-first strategy for long-term success and loyalty. Put your customers at the center of every decision and make sure you understand their underlying needs that you can serve in the future. Which two of the three value drivers do you want (or need) to build your business strengths in the future: cost value, experience value, and platform value?

4: Don’t underestimate the power of culture – identifying needed critical shifts

In a BCG study of 40 digital transformations, companies that focused on culture were 5 x more likely to achieve breakthrough performance than companies that neglected culture. Key to successful digital transformation is evolving digital strategy and culture at the same time.

Digital Business Transformation is like any transformation: your organization’s culture needs to support it, or you’ll lose the battle. What are the critical shifts, e.g., more collaboration, experimentation, or learning mindset, that you should focus on? For which employee groups will the culture change drive the most impact? What kind of capabilities do they need? The culture does not change overnight but you need 1) actions to translate what good looks like, 2) activate and engage employees at scale, and 3) anchor how you reinforce desired behaviors.

Startingpoint of a successful transformation

How Hellon can help

“As a leader of Hellon’s transformation team, I enjoyed every minute of the program, and meeting leaders dealing with similar interests from across the world and industries. What was striking for me was that according to research 87% of digital transformations still fail to meet expectations*. “ -Kirsikka Vaajakallio

This percentage is something we at Hellon are focused on changing. With our data informed, human centric approach we want to ensure that companies have a clear appealing vision and the required capabilities to execute the required change. Hellon has created a unique Customer Value Office (CVO) service tailored specifically for supporting, steering and proving the impact of transformation across all different functions and levels of the organisation.

*IMD Leading digital business transformation 2023

Interested in learning more

Contact: Kirsikka Vaajakallio, Transformation Team Lead,

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