“In today’s era of volatility, there is no other way but to re-invent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it. Because nothing else is sustainable, everything else you create, somebody else will replicate.” — Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder
I bumped into our General Manager in the hall, and he asked me what’s a simple way to think about Digital Transformation based on all I learned.
Without skipping a beat, I replied, “The 3 R’s of Digital Transformation”:
I said there is a lot more to it, but it’s helpful conversation framework for Digital Transformation when you are trying to figure out how to take action. It’s how I’ve been explaining Digital Transformation to leaders and practitioners in the field.
He said he liked the simplicity, and he could use it in his conversations.
And that’s the big idea.
In addition to all the beautifully complex and complex frameworks for Digital Transformation, you should also have some simple Digital Transformation frameworks on hand, such as the 3 R’s.
But just because it sounds simple, don’t let the simplicity fool you. The 3 R’s serve as entry points into deeper thinking.
The 3 R’s Framework for Digital Transformation
The 3 R’s Digital Transformation Framework was another framework I created simply to have better conversations and better results.
As head coach for Satya Nadella’s innovation team, I found myself in a lot of hallway conversations with execs, on the fly conversations with colleagues, and deep conversations with customers.
Plus, I found it helpful to organize my own thinking into a very simple mental model for Digital Transformation.
The 3 R’s Digital Transformation framework works because it drives the conversation very quickly to the future, while staying grounded in execution and driving value.
It helps you hit pause on where you are, so you can aspire and imagine what your business needs to become to create and capture value in the future.
It’s also outcome oriented. It’s a simple way to start working backwards from the end-in-mind.
#1 – Reimagine — Reimagine the Future
The first part of the 3 R’s Digital Transformation framework is Reimagine. This is where, as a digital leader, you reimagine what your business needs to become to survive and thrive in the digital era.
This is your chance to reimagine the future based on business, technology, and human desirability perspectives, while exploring the art of the possible.
And if you are a savvy leader, this is where you will deeply consider how sustainability and ESG (Environment, Social, Governance) can help you differentiate and disrupt your market.
The simplest way to explore the art of the possible is to practice using “Imagine If…” statements.
Here are some illustrative examples:
- Imagine if you could develop self-service and automated digital services that enable your firm to generate revenue from clients while reducing the cost-of-service delivery.
- Imagine if you could deliver a highly personalized experience that enables a customer to learn, envision, and customize a product in 3D.
- Imagine if you could use many channels to expand the reach of your business, better understand how customers use your products, and innovate quickly.
- Imagine if your employees collaborated across boundaries, felt free to experiment, provided outstanding service, and had a flexible work environment that increased their productivity.
- Imagine if you could collaborate using 3D information visualized in context and at scale, supporting communication and decision making across disciplines and teams.
Imagine if all your employees could participate in developing innovative offerings that delighted your customers, expanded the reach of your business, and created new revenue streams.
- Imagine if you could scale expertise to solve complex issues in real-time, using real-time work instructions, on-demand remote advisors for assisted diagnosis, and remote visualization capabilities.
Imagine if you could provide customers with many reliable, personalized transit options, guide customers throughout their journeys, and simplify transit services.
- Imagine if you could anticipate and quickly respond to citizen needs, and improve planning for the future, based on insights from a wide range of data from many sources.
- Imagine if you could design in a real-world context, visualize concepts in real-scale and 3D, accelerate design processes, and dramatically reduce time to market and development costs.
- For a simple framework on coming up with new ideas for business, check out The C.E.O. Pattern for Digital Transformation.
When you reimagine your future, this is also your chance to come up with your Digital Vision.
You can challenge yourself by embracing the idea of “Business BECAUSE of technology”.
What can you do now that you couldn’t do before or what can you do differently now because of new technology capabilities.
Here is a simple example of creating a Digital Vision for marketing to give customers a better experience and increase ROI:
|Customer-Centric||What if our marketing was a valuable way to help consumers move forward in their purchase journey?|
|Personalized||What if we could personalize each and every piece of content we share with consumers?|
|Integrated||What if a single solution could help us optimize media targeting and content to ensure that broadcast, digital, and social all work together?|
|Integrated||What if our marketing worked in automated ways to help us achieve our goals?|
A Simple, Structured Approach to Reimagining Your Future Business
If you need a more structured approach, here is a simple approach:
- Engage employees, customers, and partners in multi-disciplinary research.
- Empathy is the key to a compelling future.
- Human Desirability is the backbone of value creation.
- Generate ideas and explore the art of the possible.
- Play with possibility using “Imagine if…”, “What if…?”, “Wouldn’t it be incredible if…?”
- This is your chance to go for the Wow factor and win your future customers.
- Design your service, product, experience and/or solution.
- Prototype commercial viability and technology feasibility.
- Explore end-to-end experiences. This is often where innovative opportunities exist.
- Target digital vision and business model defined and expressed through value creation activities enabled by technology.
#2 – Roadmap – Roadmap the transformation journey
This is where you build a transformation roadmap to get from where you are to where you want to be.
You can think and talk in terms of big chunks when you try to plot your path.
It’s an iterative process of figuring out how you will become your future business.
My favorite approach is to hit the whiteboard (physical or virtual), and map out the big chunks of change.
Here is an example:
- This is not a technology-release roadmap. This is a business-release roadmap.
- The big idea is to map out the chunks of business change into meaningful milestones or key phases. I start by simply chunking up the bigger transformation into 3 phases: Phase 1, Phase 2, Phase 3.
- The 3 phases help to think in about the most meaningful changes to the business and to talk through and walkthrough what will be compelling experiences for the business/organization/users at each phase.
- The more clarity you create here, the more you can create empathy, prioritize more effectively, and build towards an inspiring vision.
- Each phases of the business-release roadmap is a chance to link business benefits to specific technology projects. This is how you chunk a bigger transformation down into smaller chunks with business value along the way.
A Simple, Structured Approach to Roadmapping Your Digital Transformation Journey
Here is a simple, structured approach for going about building your roadmap:
- Pick best bet opportunities based on impact vs. ability to execute.
- Design an architecture against capabilities, scenarios, business case, value management, adoption, governance, risk, and compliance.
- Drive adoption to realize value and report on impact – create feedback loops of usage, needs, and opportunities and remove adoption blockers.
- Portfolio analysis and trade-off analysis decision making framework, and business cases developed.
- Architectural options and value milestones.
- Structured plan and roadmap to enable business performance improvement by technology.
#3 – Results – Drive and Deliver Results in Terms of Value Realization
Adoption is the name of the game. If users don’t adopt, then you don’t’ realize the benefits.
I also find it helpful to create some sort of simple scorecard for evaluating the value of adopting scenarios and solutions.
It helps to think in terms of themes of value.
I find it also help to keep in mind that KPIs are the proxy to business outcomes.
A Simple, Structured Approach to Results
If you need a simple, structured approach to driving results and realizing value, here is a simple framework:
- Drive adoption and organizational adoption to optimize usage and value realized.
- Adoption is the key to realizing the benefits.
- Monitor strategy with KPIs, critical success factors, and any other significant criteria.
- Establish governance to manage, monitor and track performance.
- Business value and outcomes realized.
- Solution brought to market profitably and effectively.
Change and adoption plan adopted to accelerate consumption and value realization of services.
Business value definitions and levers to measure, trace and realize benefits.
How To Make the Most of the 3 R’s Framework for Digital Transformation
That’s it. We’ve walked through the 3 R’s Framework for Digital Transformation.
All you need to do now is actually use it in your conversations around Digital Transformation.
I can say from experience that the 3 R’s has been one of those tools that customers appreciate the most because it helps them better organize their thinking and mental models for Digital Transformation.
And by organizing your mind, you can better leverage additional tools and frameworks so that you use the right tool for the job.
You can use the 3 R’s in any situation where you find you are getting pulled into the weeds or getting lost in the forest.
Use the 3 R’s to pull you back up to the balcony view and to think in terms of the big picture of transformation.
You can use the 3 R’s to zoom in or zoom out at different levels. For example, you might be thinking and operating at the CEO level and zoom out to focus on broad changes.
Or you might zoom in with a line-of-business leader to focus on a smaller chunk of change.
Either way the value comes from linking vision to value, and from strategy to execution.
It’s one more tool in your toolbox for winning the game of Digital Transformation.
Call to Action
- Practice using “Imagine If…” statements to explore the art of the possible and to reinvent your business and organization.
- Practice chunking bigger transformation down into smaller chunks of change by creating roadmaps for transformation efforts.
- Practice linking business change to value realization by focusing on adoption.
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