Episode 15 of Leading Digital Transformation

Michael Wade Interviewed

Most organisations today don't need to be convinced of the need to transform, but they do struggle with how to do it. The harsh reality is that despite the best of intentions, and billions spent in pursuit of successful transformation outcomes, the vast majority of programmes fizzle out, falling well short of what was anticipated. In this episode, Professor Michael Wade - author of the books ‘Orchestrating Transformation’ and ‘Digital Vortex’ - unpacks the transformation challenge with a particular focus on responding to digital economy threats and opportunities.


Michael Wade

In this episode

I’m joined today by Professor Michael Wade. Mike is a professor of innovation and strategy at IMD in Switzerland and he holds the CISCO chair in digital business transformation. He’s the director of the Global Centre for Digital Business Transformation which is an IMD and CISCO initiative and his areas of expertise relate to strategy, innovation and digital transformation. Mike as published I believe at least nine books, more than 30 case studies and he appears frequently in mainstream media. His latest book is Orchestrating Transformation. 

The common transformation barriers by Michael Wade:

There’s some data around this and the best case seems to be about 70 per cent of these transformation efforts fail. But I’ve seen data that suggests up to 95 per cent of them fail so it’s certainly not easy. We’ve seen our fair share of failure but we don’t believe the foregone conclusion that these transformation efforts will fail. But there are certainly barriers as you point out. While to start with, there’s the technology barrier actually – figuring out how to use these digital tools and technologies. It’s not easy to do. Often the I.T. foundation within organizations is not scalable, robust enough to take on these new technologies so there’s kind of the technology barrier there for many companies. But in fact, that’s not the trickiest one. We see other barriers which are-, they may not show up immediately but they show up relatively quickly and then they can really throw a spanner in the works when it comes to transforming – for example, pilot organizations not other silos in the organizations that really inhibits the ability of digital tools to show benefits across organizations. So barriers, whether there are market barriers or product category barriers are functional barriers tend to inhibit the success of digital transformations.

“A common mistake we see is setting up the digital team to fail. So many companies see the threat of digital disruption, they go to conferences, they network with peers and everybody’s talking about digital and so they hire somebody to manage the digital transformation and unfortunately, that person is often set up to fail. They’re given a good title, they’re given a big responsibility but within the organization very little legitimacy to actually drive change and very often internally they are ignored.” ~ Michael Wade

Listen here and read the full transcript below:

About Leading Digital Transformation

Leading Digital Transformation is a weekly podcast series produced by Rob Llewellyn and The Digital Transformation People. Rob interviews experienced practitioners, authors and thought leaders whose stories and experiences provide valuable insights for digital transformation success.