Executive Briefing | by Monica E. Oss | March 2, 2017
How do you know if your organization needs a digital transformation? I have a few simple questions that serve as an informal diagnostic check on whether your organization is in need of a transformation:
If you answered “no” to more than half of these questions, it’s time to think about a digital transformation. Even if you’re unfamiliar with this phrase, chances are you aren’t unfamiliar with what it means – it is the change associated with the application of digital technology within an organization. According to Michele Knobel in her book, Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices, digital transformation “is achieved when the digital usages which have been developed enable innovation and creativity and stimulate significant change within the professional or knowledge domain.” Examples we’ve seen in health care in recent years include collecting and analyzing big data (see Big Data & The New ‘Audits’ For Billing Fraud), connecting consumers online (see Are You A Winner Or A Loser With Consumers Online?), and telehealth (see The Latest Telehealth Example: Pay-For-Value).
Why should your organization consider a digital transformation? The use of new technologies and analytics can improve consumer convenience, which in turn, can attract new consumers. A tech-enabled streamlined consumer experience also improves consumer engagement and treatment effectiveness, retains consumers, lowers “no show” rates, and decreases costs.
The problem, of course, is that many executive teams either aren’t ready, or don’t know the decisions they need to make to get ready. A great article earlier this month from McKinsey & Company couldn’t have said it better than it did: “digital transformations aren’t games of chance…they do require big and bold commitments in the midst of uncertainty to reinvent the business rather than just improve it” (see The Seven Decisions That Matter In A Digital Transformation: A CEO’s Guide To Reinvention).
What decisions need to be made? McKinsey & Company’s Peter Dahlström, Driek Desmet, and Marc Singer outline seven decisions and how executives can go about making them.
Decision 1: Where your business should go — “Data and analysis, as well as a disciplined framework for thinking through options, provide a helpful structure for making the decision.”
This “decision” is really a lot of smaller decisions that should lead you through the scenario-based planning process. Scenario-based planning provides leaders with a better understanding of the world, first at the macro level and then at the operational level (see Strategic Planning: Not The Same Old Process and Considering Future Scenarios: The OPEN MINDS Guide To Scenario-Based Planning).
Decision 2: Who will lead the effort — “A program that will deliver the needed degree of transformation is not something CEOs can delegate; they must lead the charge themselves.”
This doesn’t mean “the team” isn’t important, it means that leadership and vision need to be owned by high-ranking executives who can “lead out front” (see The CEO Role: Clairvoyant? and How Can You Lead, When You’re Not Sure Where We’re Going?)
Decision 3: How to “sell” the vision to key stakeholders — “Any change effort requires active communication of the vision and an explanation of why it’s necessary.”
Being a great communicator is a necessity for top-level executives who are communicating to multiple levels of team members in their organization and multiple stakeholders outside of their organization (see Communicate Like A Leader and Leadership – The Leader, The Relationship, The System).
Decision 4: Where to position the firm within the digital ecosystem — “CEOs need to figure out which capabilities, skills, and technologies available in the ecosystem complement and support their business’s strategic ambitions.”
For provider organizations, this means finding out what digital-driven service lines are available, which ones can deliver the necessary value in your value-chain, and which ones you are prepared, or capable, of adopting (see Service Packages, Self Service & Mass Customization: New Keys For Strategic Success? and Finding & Developing Your Next Big Thing).
Decision 5: How to decide during the transformation — “No matter how well a transformation effort is designed, there will be surprises and unforeseen developments.”
Strategies are great, but the real work, and many of the challenges you will face, happen during implementation. In a manner of speaking, you need a plan for the plan (see Taking Strategy & Innovation From Concept To Reality and From Strategy To Action).
Decision 6: How to allocate funds rapidly and dynamically — “With a digital transformation, the CEO needs to decide what the allocation process should be and at what tempo it should operate.”
Provider organizations don’t have to wait until a new digital implementations is done to assess its performance. And many of them can’t afford to wait that long to sink valuable and limited resources into a technology that won’t perform. Track your progress and judge performance as you go, and don’t be afraid to pull the plug if it’s not working out (see Stuck In Sunk Cost Thinking and Ready, Set, Go…And Then What?).
Decision 7: What to do when — “CEOs should carefully decide how to sequence the transformation for quick wins that yield revenue payoffs and reduce costs, gains that can then be reinvested.”
The work of leaders is never done, and constantly assessing and aligning strategic priorities is where that work — vision, planning, drive, and culture — comes together. The ability to prioritize all major investments every step of the way is, simply put, what a leader needs to do (see ‘Hierarchy Of Purpose’ For Strategy Success and The Tyranny Of The Urgent).
For more, Elite-level OPEN MINDS Circle members can join me on September 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm (EST) for an exclusive webinar, Forecasting The Future: What’s The Impact Of Health Care Technology For Consumers & The Service Delivery System. Not an Elite member? Upgrade your account now to access OPEN MINDS Market Intelligence Reports, the Government RFP & Contract Database, special registrations to all OPEN MINDS institutes, and exclusive online executive education events.