10 Tips for Managing Digital Transformation in the Real World

Digital transformation is a journey. And for Agile leaders, Scrum Masters, project managers, and other change agents in the organization, the road can be rocky. DevOps enthusiast, Gene Kim, and Bret Piontek, Enterprise Lean/Agile Transformation Leader at Levi Strauss, offer some real-world advice for those of you with boots on the ground, driving change and transforming your organization.

1. Align Around Value

Create a customer-centric, value-driven engineering environment where everyone is aligned around common, strategic goals. This approach is a great way to break down silos and get everyone focused on what matters.

2. Give People a Seat at the Table

Bring people into the digital transformation process early, give them context and visibility, and in return they are more likely to be receptive to change, more engaged, and more likely to bring great ideas to the table.

3. Push the Decision-Making Down and Out to the Edges

Once everyone has a strategic view of the business, decision making can spread throughout the organization. Empowering teams at all levels of the organization leads to faster and better decisions, which has an immediate and positive impact on the business.

4. Take a Person by Person, Team by Team, Project by Project Approach

In the real world, digital transformation is not something you create and roll out in one grand gesture. To be successful, you need to show people how to see things from a customer perspective, not a release or defects perspective.

5. One Methodology Doesn’t Fit All

Stop trying to select the “right” methodology to apply to your entire digital transformation initiative. The reality is you’re going to need more than one. And you need to be able to pivot to different approaches depending on the situation, goal, team skill level, existing environment, etc. Treat methodologies like tools and be willing to apply the right one for the job at hand.

6. Create an Environment of Trust

Lack of trust between individuals, teams, and levels within the organization is one of the biggest challenges to overcome in a digital transformation. Building trust and creating an environment where people at all levels feel safe speaking openly and honestly is critical.

7. Be a Catalyst for Communication and Collaboration

During your digital transformation journey, you will run numerous workshops, present in untold number of meetings, and meet people in your organization you never knew existed. Use this time as an opportunity to seek out teams and individuals hungry for learning and change. Bring them together with other motivated teams and individuals, and give them a means to form relationships – no matter where they sit in the organization.

8. Stop Being a Control Freak

What worked in one situation, won’t necessarily work in the next. Be willing to adapt and learn. Have conversations. Get input before you start prescribing new processes, approaches, tools, etc. And check yourself frequently to see if what you are putting out there is resonating.

9. Let Go of Perfection

In any people-first endeavor, perfection is purely aspirational. As people, we are imperfect by nature, and digital transformation is no exception. Focus on understanding people’s needs and aspirations, and then meet them where they are.

10. Agile is Not Just for IT and Development

One of the biggest roadblocks in the digital transformation journey is the gap between IT and Business. Alignment of operational and business value streams is a core concept for successful digital transformation.

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