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Obvious but true: Without strong leadership, digital transformation is impossible


The seven steps of digital transformation

Recently, we started a mini-series on digital transformation (link), identifying seven major parts of digital transformation:

In this last post we’re going to discuss leadership and culture.

What exactly is “culture?”

People have been debating this for years.

There are many different definitions floating around the universe. Most tend to view it, ultimately, as the experience of working at a place: how people treat you, how pressing deadlines are, how collaborative the team is, etc. In other words, it’s the sum total of relationships between people who work on projects in an organization.

Why would this matter to digital transformation?

It’s very hard for a company to transform unless the people trust each other. Let’s say you have been an analog, on-premise company for years, and now you are becoming a cloud company. That involves a lot of shifts in how work gets done and what processes are followed. If you don’t trust your teammates -- if the company’s culture is questionable, then -- it’s much harder to make these jumps from one way of working and one set of processes to another.

What about the role of leadership?

“Leadership” is another term that has lots of definitions in the last few years. People have started debating whether it means revenue-generation, growth-focused, empathetic, have more soft skills, etc. In reality, leadership means lots of things and good leaders possess many different qualities. They can grow the business but also grow the people.

Leadership is important to digital transformation largely because of revenue hiccups and disruptions. When you try to change your business, there will be hard periods. Your customers may not understand what you are trying, or there might be coding issues in the first wave of a new product, or your employees might be confused by new processes and location of knowledge. Many problems can arise in the initial stages of a transformation. Leaders need to be able to get through that period and not immediately revert back to legacy products and processes. You are better off in the long-run being a digitally-driven company right now, but if there are headaches as you try to do that, good leaders push through the moment and steady their team until things are smoother. 

What does this have to do with outsourcing software development?

Good question. You can look at our specific approach to leadership and company-building, and how we try to mirror your culture via the team extension model, but the fact is you cannot outsource leadership and culture.

You can outsource elements of process work and new product development to a software development team, of course -- but your leadership team and your culture are still going to be developed internally. We can match that culture by being an extension of your team, and we can help develop the culture and team by offering strategy suggestions based on other projects we’ve done.

If you are considering outsourcing some of the actual transformation work -- shifts to the cloud, embracing of AI, new product rollout -- then take a look at our list of considerations for hiring an outsourced software development team.

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