• Jacki Rowles

Having the right mindset critically impacts the success of digital transformation

Updated: Jun 13, 2018



That is why having the right mindset is critical.


Most business I deal with in New Zealand are on a digital transformation journey to disrupt their market. They’re either the agile, well-funded, smart start-ups looking to take out the global incumbents, large organizations looking to reinvent business as usual or they’re Kiwi incumbents on a path of digital transformation However, 50% to 80% of all digital transformations fail, that is why having the right mindset is critical.


Most of them run the risk of failing as between 50% (if you believe Wipro) and 84% (if you believe Forbes) won’t deliver. So why are more than half of the companies failing to deliver on digital transformation strategies - mindset ! Wipro cites leadership mindset as a key issue, there’s been some awkward back downs at major enterprises on their digital disruption journeys:

  • Proctor & Gamble started well with a plan to be “the most digital company on the plant” in 2012 but hit delivery issues due to a change in leadership which derailed this plan

  • Ford pushed into digital and didn’t deliver on the promise. Their CEO left.

  • Lego and Nike have reduced the funding for their digital plays

If the big guys can’t deliver what chance do our Kiwi companies have?


The reasons for these failures are well researched and all reduce to one thing – our people aren’t prepared. “It requires mixing people, machines, and business processes, with all of the messiness that entails” according to HBR. For me – it’s always the people part of that equation that’s underestimated, under-invested and under delivers.

It’s in two areas:

  1. Leaders

  2. Their teams.

Leaders aren’t equipped to lead in a disrupted world


There’s many things you need to be able to deliver, execute and do as a leader in a digital world. But there’s only four things you need to be really good at (according to Deloitte New Zealand). Only one of them is about how smart you are (being able to think quickly and flexibly). The other three of them are all about how Emotionally Intelligent you are:

  1. See opportunity in uncertainty

  2. Adapt to complex, changing interpersonal demands (resilience)

  3. Adapt to achieve in new and changing contexts (flexible Growth mindset)

It may be that as leaders we’ve always required these skills but we’ve got by in the past because change was slower. We’ve now been found out by the rate of disruption and can’t keep up.


Our teams don’t know how to cope with robots, restructures and retrenchments.


While some of us as leaders are going to be doing ourselves out of a job if we get the transformation right, it won’t impact us nearly as much as it will our teams. We need to deliver the (generally multiple) digital transformations through high performing, collaborative, inventive, flexible teams in which every member pulls their weight and more. There’s no bonus or massive payoff waiting for our people if they do this for us. The people who have to get the transformation to market will then go through the wringer of a restructure (as might we) and some will end up being displaced by artificial intelligence and cost cutting (the reduced friction of a digital disruption also lowers revenues by 40% for incumbents according to McKinsey) and to get cost out, we automate and take people out.


I believe we have an ethical responsibility to equip these people as best we can for what’s to come. Even if you are not altruistic you recognize a corporation needs to keep these people onside until such time as they go (and prevent any liability it’ll have under the new health and safety rules which cover mental wellness in New Zealand companies).


We all need to flex a new muscle. One that builds inner strength that will better equip us for the demands and challenges of this world. That muscle : Emotional Wellbeing.

They, like their leaders, need new skills. We all need to be able to flex muscles we probably haven’t developed before. We need to connect better (with ourselves & with others), to lead better, create better and innovate better. And when we go home we need to decrease the emotional exhaustion of work.


Emotional Intelligence & resilience training is proven to deliver all of these outcomes. It’s the foundation we need to be able to do the job in front of us and be ready for the next one whilst retaining a sense of well-being .



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