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Are you a digital transformation leader?

By Brook Karen, Sr. Managing Director, Digital Advisory Services, Microsoft on September 15, 2017

Filed under IT Leader

Digital Transformation represents the promise of creating a desired future. It helps us achieve more for society, our customers and own well-being.  But as a people manager, how do you cultivate Digital Transformation instincts in others?

I am Brook Karen, a people manager in Atlanta, Georgia. Microsoft Digital Advisory Services is a team within Microsoft Services. Digital Advisors bring their expertise, as well as Microsoft’s resources, experience and innovation, to empower organizations to reach their digital aspirations. We partner to drive a program of change to build our customers’ digital business, and our website can be found here: Microsoft Digital Advisory Services.

As a people manager of a high-performing organization here at Microsoft, I’ve met some of the world’s best Digital Transformers. I have, in turn, helped others with my own experiences and insights.

Suppose you were asked to lead a “digital” initiative at your company, and started thinking about your team. Here are some suggestions I recommend you consider, based upon my experience:

1. Enable Innovation Through Organizational Culture and Divergent Thinking

Digital Transformation is not about heroes or individuals. Creating change on the backs of the few is neither scalable nor sustainable.  Instead, successful Digital Transformation leaders and their organizations create a culture of continuous improvement by empowering individual leadership, reinforcing growth mindset, and celebrating failure. 

Besides having the right culture in the organization, the true impact of team members is realized when they bring to the table their diverse set of experiences, cultural norms, societal impacts, and beliefs. 

2. Cultivate the Superpowers that Fuel Digital Transformation

One of the key responsibilities of a Digital Transformation leader is to identify and develop these superpowers in others: 

  • Passion creates excitement and fuels ambition! You can inspire passion by driving emotional connections, with customers and with employees. Help people emotionally connect to the problem we are trying to solve.
  • Strategic Thinking enables us to synthesize and create vision. It comes very naturally for some, while others gravitate to tactics. In situations where I’ve had tactical team members, I have strengthened their strategic thinking through coaching, challenging and mentoring.
  • Storytelling creates clarity to inspire the art of the possible while breaking down resistance. Painting a picture, driving engagement, and generating enthusiasm is an art form. Storytelling can be coached by creating safe opportunities to practice and refine.
  • Technical curiosity enables awareness of what is possible. By creating habits around staying current, you can quench your thirst for understanding new and emerging capabilities and grow this superpower.

3. Foster Inclusion to Create Excitement and Succeed

Curiosity, the art of the possible, strategic thinking and storytelling are exciting to some and terrifying to others. An effective technique as a Digital Transformation leader is to show your work, describe how you got there, and encourage others to participate.  I’ve found that inclusion generates enthusiasm.  It allows many voices to be heard, fosters divergent thinking, builds participation and creates the emotional connection needed to fuel passion. 

The continual development of Digital Transformers will enable us to achieve more in society. I would welcome a conversation and opportunity to share experiences from my own journey.  

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