My notes on Transform: A rebel’s guide for digital transformation

Because the old model of organization-centricity with its silos and its egos used to be much more comfortable and profitable

He had become what I call a “put-it-upper” (derives from the Latin “put-it-uppo”). He launched stuff, published stuff, put stuff up on the website because someone somewhere else in the organization said to put it up.

The website was growing fast and had lots of outdated information that nobody wanted to review or remove.

As a digital professional, your week is often equal measures optimism and frustration. You can see and feel the future all around you, but your organization is not moving fast enough. Sometimes it can even feel like things are going backwards. You struggle to find the key that will truly unlock a vibrant digital future. The key is culture because culture eats technology and strategy for breakfast.

What I have learned again and again is that you can change the technology and the website design, but if you don’t change the culture, nothing important changes.

“With clear and unambiguous data, identifying what really matters to your customers—their top tasks.

Measuring how able customers are to complete their top tasks and then continuously improving these tasks based on these metrics.

Assembling teams around these tasks and making these teams responsible for customer task success. So, employees manage and are responsible for customer task outcomes, not organizational inputs.”

WHO does not have an organizational culture that supports open and critical dialogue between senior leaders and staff or that permits risk-taking or critical approaches to decision-making,” the report stated.

It was caught up in that old, corrosive culture of organizational ego: “I am important. Therefore I publish a lot.”

That is why as a first step in digital transformation you must establish the customer top tasks—what is really important to them.

Measure use, not what you produce

Your future will be more about continuously improving what you have created than creating new stuff.

Your questions must be: “What can I remove? What can I improve?” Not: “What can I add? What can I create?” I know that management wants you to produce, not maintain. Real work—real value in the old model—is when you create something new, not when you improve or delete something. You are rewarded and measured by what you produce—a traditional input-based metric that often ends up rewarding worst practice in a digital world.

In a network, you need outcome-based metrics that focus on how people use things. Traditional metrics of production merely measure what happens within the organizational silo.

Nothing better illustrates an organization-centric, old model culture than the proliferation of PDFs on a website because one thing is for sure: digitizing print documents is not digital transformation.

The transformation begins not so much by thinking outside the box / silo, but by linking the boxes, by reaching out and finding others who want to be part of the transformation. The old model was a hierarchy full of silos and egos. Digital culture is network culture. It is multidisciplinary culture. Don’t wait for your leadership to get it and then lead the way.

“Empathy for the customer

Customer experience is the spear point of change. The hardest thing is to feel for others. To think about other people’s needs. To live in other people’s shoes. Hierarchy and silos are all about tribes. The tribe has a powerful pull. It is comforting and ego-rewarding. Your group, your peers, your design, your content, your code.”

“We measure the production—the more of it the better—of things, whether they be products, projects, content or code. We measure websites and webpages and apps. How many did we launch? How much did we create?

Wrong metrics! New model metrics measure customer outcomes. They measure consumption, impact. What happened? What was the customer able to do? How long did it take them? How easy was it for them? Did they leave with the wrong answer? We must move to outcome-based consumption metrics.”

You manage the task, not the channel, not the format, not the content, not the code.

The politics of organizations are such that local pain in particular groups or departments is often sufficient to prevent the organization from moving to a new state, even if that state is more globally fit

You need to know if your organization is a new model one—or at least if it has the potential to become one. Otherwise, you need to move to an organization that wants to be part of the future.

The visual look is an important element of digital design, but it is not the most important. The Web is primarily a functional, word-driven environment—whether we are talking about search or navigation—and it is the design / use of the right words that is a key pillar of digital design

Digital design is all about use.

Good code is the bedrock of all great digital design, and digital designers must—at a minimum—have an understanding of how the code works because the code frames and houses the design.

“Digital design thinking is driving major trends in overall design:

A move away from aesthetics/visuals which has dominated much of design over the last 30 years. As the great product designer, James Dyson has stated: “Styling for its own sake is a lazy 20th-Century conceit.” And as Steve Jobs has stated: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

A move away from the programming and code to the interface. In early digital design, once the thing had been programmed and technically worked, it was launched. There was hardly any consideration given to making it easy to use. Basically, people were expected to learn how to use it. This sort of thinking has particularly dominated within traditional IT and enterprise design. It is being replaced by a greater focus on use and simplicity. The “product” is now becoming the interface, not the code.

A holistic “experience” approach to design. Great digital design is co-designed with the customer and is focused not on any one element of the design (graphics, code, content) but rather on the experience of the customer using the design. It asks crucial questions: How easy is this to do? How fast is this to do?

A move away from fixed to flexible design. Traditional designers are used to controlling every element of the design. Digital designers come up with an adaptable, flexible system that fits into people’s lives. Digital designs are designed to work whether you are using a smartphone, a tablet, laptop or desktop. The best digital design gives you the controls. You can search, compare, process, calculate, zoom, expand. Digital design is much more about giving you control than controlling you.”

Organizations are not healthy. Whereas people’s life expectancy has gradually increased over the last sixty years, organizational life expectancy has halved.

The best way to transform an organization to a new model culture is by using the Web as a laboratory of human behavior, where you are constantly testing and evolving hypotheses

Once you have identified the customer top tasks, you must measure them. How many customers are able to successfully complete these tasks? How long is it taking them? Show how they can’t find basic facts. Show how they do find out-of-date information.

Too many people do work that lacks purpose or real feedback today. In old model organizations, employees’ careers are dependent, not on the quality of the work they do, but on how likeable they are, and how well they obey their managers. The stuff they produce (content, code, graphics, or whatever) seems to get sucked into a black hole. They never hear back about whether it worked or not, about what needs to be improved.