Moving the needle beyond digital

Juuso Laatikainen


    Moving the needle beyond digital

    Most companies and leadership teams want to “move the needle” and strive for impact. In reality, surprisingly few have a consistent track record of achieving their targets and actually moving the needle.

    Research shows that roughly 2/3 of business transformations fall short of their objectives[1], 50% of M&A don’t reach the planned synergies[2] and 70% of digital transformation programmes fail to meet their goals. Yet despite these odds, leadership teams continuously embark on new transformation programmes with large investment cases. The digital transformation market alone is estimated to be 723 Bn$ in 2022[3].

    The digital agendas of the past 10 years have often been positioned as a mindset change from internal ideation to solving customer problems and questioning long linear development funnels while promoting experimentation and learning to fail fast.

    While speed in time-to-value and/or time-to-market are great metrics, many digital initiatives tend to lack the desired velocity i.e., the component of direction in addition to speed. Hence, many digital programmes during the past decade tended to embrace great methods and concepts – design thinking, Google sprints, customer centricity – where much of the action focused on being quick and result oriented. Although the specific teams advanced rapidly for a few weeks, the reality was that the organisation around them was slow to move and it took a lot of effort to enable the few weeks of fast paced progress. As a result, the ultimate impact tended to be weak, and the needle lacked movement. Many initiatives and sprints also lacked a clear direction and ambition calibration with the leadership teams, resulting in a lack of funding and commitment for the scaling and commercialisation activities. The initiatives that tended to proceed were the more traditional operations or back-office process transformation with cost-efficiency gains.

    In light of these challenges, Paul Leinwand and Mahadeva Matt Mani from Strategy& recently launched an interesting book called Beyond Digital – How great leaders transform their organisations and shape the future. In their book, Paul and Matt acknowledge the importance of digital programmes and transformations. Based on their research and interesting case studies, they highlight the importance of taking a step back and addressing seven imperatives.

    1. Reimagine your company’s place in the world – be clear about the problems that you are here to solve and what capabilities are needed to succeed
    2. Embrace and create value via ecosystems – it’s time to partner up and collaborate beyond your own four walls to offer something unique and gain access to missing capabilities
    3. Build a system of privileged insights with your customers – make sure that you have access to unique data that you can use to gain rare insights on your customers true wants and needs
    4. Make your organisation outcome-oriented – find ways to bring together multidimensional skills and teams that can deliver required differentiating capabilities
    5. Invert the focus of your leadership team – rethink the composition of your leadership team to drive collaborative performance
    6. Reinvent the social contract with your people – put your teams at the centre of your value creation model and give them the means to lead and drive the transformation
    7. Disrupt your own leadership approach by proactively investing into your leadership capability development

    The book was released by Harvard Business Review Press and I warmly encourage you to get a copy, or follow-up on some of the presentations that are online.

    As to this blog, my plan is to touch upon the seven imperatives, and also share some ideas, case examples and new business pursuits from the Nordics and beyond, showcasing what we have come across as potential game changers that could move the needle in the future.

    Stay tuned!

    Beyond Digital Transformation 


    [1] Strategy& authored and researched book: Fit for Growth: A practical approach to business transformation

    [2] PwC M&A integration survey 2020

    [3] GVR, Digital Transformation Market Size Report 2022-2030