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5 Reasons Digital Transformation Fails

You’re not as smart as you think you are.

Most of my work takes place within the context of an “Innovation Lab” or similar program that is often part of a wider transformation effort. Within that rubric, I have observed many common maladies that thwart innovation and transformation. This article is part of a series documenting the maladies. Solutions to follow.

There isn’t an organizational leader who will claim that they don’t need some kind of process improvement. Ditto, there isn’t a leader who won’t agree that modern methods of digital transformation, like Agile, Lean, Data-driven or Cloud ought to be adopted. This would be to go against the grain of progress, or be like denying the value of innovation — i.e. foolhardy. And so, in the interests of progress, various transformation programs are rolled out in corporations. However, many of them deliver lackluster results, or fail.

5 Major Problems


Here I rely upon direct experience to diagnose, at least partially, the malady. I have identified five major problems, although there are more. These are:

  1. The Dunning-Kruger effect
  2. Backdoor Hedging
  3. Authority Bias
  4. Mindset vs. Method
  5. KPI Syndrome

Each of these is worthy of its own article, but I will summarize all five whilst taking Agile as the transformational method in question. Before diving in, I should say that no one problem is sufficient to kill the project, nor does any one problem have a dominant effect. As with all organizational maladies, they typically conspire to produce a death by a thousand cuts. This is well discussed in Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma. In this article, I only explain the problem. I will leave the solutions to a follow-up article.

Read the full article on Recknsense.