Stoking the Digital Flywheel: A Step-by-Step Guide to Accelerating Digital Culture in Large Companies
This article is born from a compelling discussion I recently had with a CIO from a global company. Like many in his position, he faces the Herculean task of driving digital transformation throughout an expansive value chain. He's not alone in this endeavour. Across the globe, countless leaders are standing at the base of this digital mountain, daunted by the enormity of the task.
But today, I want you to perceive this challenge from a fresh vantage point. Rather than a steep, uphill climb, let's envision it as an opportunity to cultivate a thriving digital culture. This process is not a light switch to be flicked on instantaneously but more akin to a flywheel, as eloquently depicted in Jim Collins' "Good to Great."
The following steps will guide you on this journey...
Step 1: Finding Inspiration
The digital culture flywheel begins with a spark: inspiration. This is the catalyst that ignites curiosity and initiates the process. Encourage your team to seek out and share inspirations — it could be a revolutionary tech product, a unique service model, or an insightful article.
Step 2: Gaining Insights
From the embers of inspiration, we gather insights. These are the seeds of understanding that grow when we analyze and delve deeper into the inspiration. Could you provide platforms and opportunities for your team to dissect their inspirations, turning them into valuable insights?
Step 3: Embarking on a Project
Insights become the blueprint for a project. It's where we translate theory into practice, using the insights to address real-world problems. It's crucial to foster an environment where your team feels empowered to take on projects based on their insights.
Step 4: Celebrating the Win
A successfully executed project represents a win, a tangible result of the efforts invested. It's the first complete rotation of our digital culture flywheel. Celebrate these wins, regardless of their size, to motivate your team and reinforce the value of the process.
Step 5: Creating Time
Here's the crucial pivot: the win must create time. This is achieved by focusing on efficiency and automation, freeing your team's time from repetitive tasks. The time saved enables the team to seek new inspirations, beginning a new flywheel cycle.
Step 6: Repeating the Process
By repeatedly following these steps, two transformative shifts occur. The organization begins to think more like a digital business, viewing technology as a problem-solving tool. Secondly, the process starts generating measurable ROI.
Step 7: Reinvesting the ROI
ROI generated from this process should be partly reinvested into the culture. This capital, deployed back into the people, tools, and processes, acts as the fuel that drives the flywheel, leading to faster rotations, more significant wins, and higher ROI.
In this sense, the digital culture flywheel is like a combustion engine, but it thrives on insights and capital instead of fuel and oxygen. The journey to accelerate digital culture is a marathon, not a sprint. It requires a relentless commitment to pushing the flywheel. But once it gains momentum and begins to spin on its own, the digital transformation you seek is not just an aspiration but an inevitable reality.