During my time building the change management capability for a global tech giant, the first question from clients was often, “What do we do about digital?” And rightfully so. With the vast majority of ASX-listed companies reporting digital as a cornerstone of their corporate strategy, and enabler to unlocking hidden value, opting out of digital (whether it be through investments, skills or initiatives) is no longer an option. It’s a must.
A McKinsey report underscored digital’s massive potential, its contribution to Australia’s GDP by 2025 estimated at between AU$140 billion and AU$250 billion – this is based on currently available tech alone, ladies and gents.
And change? Long before I first wrote about it, change management (or its absence) is often the determining factor that realises desired outcomes (or not!).
If the change in behaviour mandated by the introduction of new systems is the crest, then the embedding of an entrepreneurial mindset and engineering of a digital capability uplift to support this is the next wave of opportunity. That’s when you come full circle.
You can’t do digital without change. And if you don’t change, you can’t do digital.
A company’s culture is the most significant self-reported barrier to digital effectiveness. At the end of the day, you can have the best tools in the world. But functional and departmental silos, misaligned leadership and a widespread fear of risk-taking stifle adoption.
In the digital age, the costs of not getting on board are amplified. Leaders who wait for “organic” culture change will be a day late and a dollar short. They’ll move painstakingly slower than the rate of digital penetration, which blurs boundaries between sectors and intensifies competition at rapid speed.
Unfortunately, there’s no “set and forget” function when it comes to digital. Great, you may have done some data science training, perhaps you’ve introduced a new predictive algorithm or optimisation model. Now you must lead through change and be an active digital advocate. Engaging people, drumming up support for the vision, bedding down changes so it becomes the new norm. Success hinges on consistency and transparency which builds awareness and generates a loyal following.
It is unsurprising then, that the top MBA programs in the world have recalibrated their curriculum. Sure, finance, emotional intelligence and marketing units are still on offer. The key shift is a new laser focus on executive digital competency and change leadership. I’d argue anyone in a senior management role must understand data, its sources, its role in making assumptions and inferences, and lastly, using data to develop strategies and execute on business plans. Coding, data analysis, entrepreneurship and change are the new fundamentals in an exec’s toolkit.
At least 40% of all businesses will die in the next 10 years… if they don’t figure out how to change their entire company to accommodate new technologies” J C, Cisco
I won’t lie to you: it can be a lot of work. Every day, value chains are being reimagined, jobs are being redefined and new competitors enter the market. Change is not the risk, to remain static is. The pace of change and speed of technology advancements will only intensify. It’s not about the big beating the small anymore, but the fast beating the slow.
We should look to future proof ourselves by investing in these skills. Change is inevitable, but your growth, and that of your business, is purely optional.
If you like what you read, here’s more of my musings…
- I’m scared too
- Flat or fresh?
- I don’t trust you
- What I wish I knew 10 years ago
- The Franklin Effect
- Fashion, frocks and fearlessness
- Part 1: 7Cs of managing change while managing up
- Part 2: 7Cs of managing change while managing up
- Glass ceiling? No, sticky floor…
- 3 reasons why the best change managers are never in their office
- 5 things NOT to do in a digital transformation
- Part 1: 4 reasons why data-based story is key (but we suck at it!)
- Part 2: 4 reasons why we suck at data-based storytelling
- Part 3: 5 ways to skyrocket the persuasiveness of your data-based stories
- Part 1: 7 signs of a toxic workplace
- Part 2: 7 signs of a toxic workplace
- Servant leadership’s role in imparting change
- 10 leadership lessons from the front line of policing
- 5 infuriating stakeholders and how to deal with them
- 3 ambivert advantages – a change manager’s insights
- 5 ways change management increases organisational ‘health’
Friska brings digital transformation to life by accelerating adoption and building proficiency at scale, having worked for some of the biggest names in mining, engineering and technology. A change and transformation expert for nearly a decade, she’s led change programs impacting up to 23,000 people across most continents – technology implementations, operating model redesigns, M&As and restructures.
Friska headed up change at Newcrest Mining, the largest gold miner on the ASX, leading its digital transformation changes to achieve significant financial and innovation outcomes, winning the 2018 METS Ignited Collaboration Award and several other innovation titles. Prior to this, Friska was the Global Change Lead at engineering giant Worley, overseeing technology, process and system changes across its 55 offices.
Her expertise has been sought after at Microsoft Indonesia, Women in Leadership Asia, Future of Mining Sydney, Female Influencers in Tech, Contino’s The Leadership Panel, Wonder Women Tech, Women in Mining & Energy Indonesia, Minerals Week Canberra and Mining Leaders Forum Perth. Friska also contributes her thought leadership to The Future Shapers, Thrive Global, Delivering Happiness and has been published in The Australian HR Institute and AusIMM’s digital disruption series.