“Culture change means we will do things differently.” — Satya Nadella
This is a short post to put down on paper the key strategies and tactics, habits and practices, and mindset shifts that made Digital Transformation happen at Microsoft.
I’ve driven Digital Transformation for more than a decade inside Microsoft, as well as driving Digital Transformation with customers.
I’ve learned a lot.
I made a lot of mistakes, paid a lot of attention, and learned a whole heck of a lot, not just from my immediate work, but also the larger world of Microsoft, and the even larger world of…well, the real world with customers, from around the world.
I want to share the most significant supporting strategies and tactics I’ve observed specifically at Microsoft that improved Digital Transformation success.
All Digital Transformation is People Change
As a great mentor put it to me in such a simple, yet profound way:
“All digital transformation is people change.”
And people change is the backbone of culture change (and vice-versa).
And the backbone of people change is “behavior change”.
And you support behavior change through mindsets, skillsets, and toolsets, along with processes, apps, systems, services, and incentives that support the desired behaviors.
Top 20+ Habits & Practices of Digital Transformation
The key to change is never a silver bullet.
It’s a constellation of supporting strategies and tactics that shift thinking, feeling, and doing over time while modeling the way forward.
Keep in mind that thoughts are habits, too.
Here are the most important strategies and tactics, habits and practices, and mindset shifts that I’ve seen help make Digital Transformation happen at Micosoft.
- Customer-obsession– Wrapping Microsoft business around customers set the stage for Digital Transformation because customer expectations were changing for the Digital Era.
- Digital Natives – Microsoft hired Digital Natives and millennials to accelerate a digital first mindset.
- Mobile-First, Cloud First Strategy – the mantra Softies spoke in the halls to remember to consider mobility in everything and think Cloud before on premise datacenters.
- Growth Mindset – Create a mindset of learning and growth to support innovation and change.
- Inclusion / Diversity—Do different and think different by including diverse background, experiences, cultures, abilities, and thinking styles.
- Innovation – focus on innovation through Hackathons and Innovation Centers and Garage efforts, while empowering everyone to innovate.
- Cooperation vs. Competition – internally focus on teaming and with partners, too (a change to the reward system and review system).
- Smart / Strategic Partnerships – focus on building out competencies – focus on Open Source to do what we uniquely do best while letting others play too (and scale impact).
- Ecosystem focus – focus on smart plays to level the playing field, empower the playing field, and raise the bar for the playing field through healthy competition and coopetition.
- Data-driven decisions – hire data scientists – focus on objective vs. subjective w/telemetry and insights.
- Visualization – visualize data and flows for operations, customer experiences, product feedback.
- UI as a first-class citizen – hire and invest in UI capabilities (in IT and product group team).
- Appify stuff – turn tasks into apps.
- Botify stuff – turn tasks into stuff machines can do and learn.
- “One” teams – multi-org teams focused around customer scenarios (EPG initiatives)
- Engineering + design – pair up designers w/engineering to make better apps.
- Security + Trust— to do anything online requires a premium on security and trust. And teams move at the speed of trust.
- Disruptive mindset – focus on change as the new normal and the constant.
- Learning culture –shift from “Know-It-Alls” to “Learn-It-Alls” to focus on learning and growth and improvement.
- Continuous Delivery— learn by shipping and improving. Use signals to guide projection and progress.
- Test in Production—audience control.
- Services–Services instead of packaged products.
- DevOps–played a key role in helping agility and being able to move to a mobile-first, cloud-first world with skill.
- Agile and lean software engineering–fast cycles driven by self-directed cross-discipline teams.
This is not a complete list or even a refined list. It’s more of a starter list and a thought starter collection.
You might read an idea or two and reflect on how it applies to you and how it might help you in your Digital Transformation journey.
And remember, if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying (and learning!).
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