What does “digital transformation” actually mean?

The digital transformation of an organization is, simply said, an innovation project

Innovation projects[1] aim at a renewal and its implementation in the organization. They are usually initiated by a need or goal in one of the following three areas:

  1. Organization: different contracts, new regulations or work processes
  2. Digital technologies: new software or hardware
  3. Purpose of the organization: new products or services

In terms of implementation, they almost always affect all three areas at the same time. Thus, the initial reason is fairly unimportant for its successful implementation. Rather, success depends on the effective management of all three aspects.

Innovation projects usually have the following characteristics:

  1. At their core, they contribute to the organization’s ability to create value
  2. They are about finding, developing, or implementing a new solution which is at least partly unknown – every project is unique!
  3. The responsibility for project implementation lies with the operational staff – or at least it should do

This shows that the lever for successful renewal lies solely in the hands of the employees. The focus must therefore be on enabling them to:

  1. (value creation) … give their own work a deeper meaning – beyond simply completing tasks. This way their own contribution to the implementation achieves relevance.
  2. (New solution) … create, experiment, and make mistakes. Breaking new ground requires courage – this can be promoted by structures and mutual support.
  3. (Responsibility) … be creative in a self-organized way together with others. This requires freedom and trust – not control and directions.

The role of management as well as of accompanying consultants and coaches must therefore be to provide the necessary structures, freedom and resources.

This is the only way employees can make digital transformation a reality!

[1] after: „Geschäftsprojekte zum Erfolg führen“, M. Körner, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2008