When I realized as a CEO that I needed to digitalize my organization, I knew nothing about technology. I had always worked in sales, marketing and publishing. I could use the basic office suite—and that was it. And internally, we only had a very limited IT department. After transforming and digitalizing the organization, I knew a little bit more about technology, but still not that much. And today, my current revenues are almost 100% online, and I am still not a technological whiz.
Many leaders think they have to become experts in technology and are afraid of a digital transformation because of that. Of course, we need basic skills, and in some cases being an expert in a particular technology is important, but the greatest challenge I and many CEOs face when digitalizing is changing the mindset of the people and transforming the culture in the organization. Without the appropriate mindset, a leader might not even see what needs to be done to be successful in digital times.
Past successes can stand in the way of a successful transformation
Unfortunately, I meet too many leaders (especially in boards of directors) who have been very successful in the past and don’t see that they need a new mindset to reinvent their organization today. They still think in terms of finding a USP/competitive advantage, making detailed plans to deliver it, dividing the process in specialties or functional departments to deliver the USP and then centralizing to benefit from economies of scale. When I was still in that mindset and thought that reinventing my organization just meant finding a new competitive advantage, I faced many issues internally. I worked like hell for too little impact, and my organization didn’t adapt itself fast enough.
No, I had to change the culture and business techniques, but I needed a new mindset for that.
Do you think you have an appropriate mindset to reinvent your organization? What about your management?
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