The Methodical Innovator – drive your digital transformation

By KC Sreeram
To ensure your digital transformation is successful, you need a methodical innovator at the helm, argues KC Sreeram, VP, Cloud & Infrastructure, Trianz

Why are so few digital transformations successful? Trianz’s study of more than 5,000 companies found that only 7% of companies, regardless of industry, realised the intended benefits of their digital transformation.

In my experience, the scope of digital transformation projects is often too narrowly focused on technology, primarily because digital technologies have gotten a reputation for enabling efficiency and increasing customer intimacy.

But relying primarily on technology as the main driver of a digital transformation continues to be a mistake.

Just like a computer is not much use without a human telling it what to do, technology is just a tool to support processes or facilitate customer interactions. Without humans driving the change behind the tools, technology alone is just a capital expenditure.

No matter where in the organisation change is needed, or how innovative the technology is, transformation always begins and ends with people. And if you want to do it right, a Methodical Innovator should be at the centre of the action.

Why is leadership important for effective transformations?

Without effective leadership, there will most likely not be any digital transformation. That's because transformations impact business models, employee skills, platforms and systems, new services, products for customers, and so on. Good luck changing any of those things without C-level support – even if you're in a relatively small company.

We see various types of leadership within the industry that exhibit a wide range of personality traits and personas. In the recently published book, Crossing the Digital Faultline, our Trianz CEO Sri Manchala stresses that a unique persona he calls the Methodical Innovator is essential for a successful digital transformation.

Manchala says the essential traits of the Methodical Innovator are:

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Prioritisation and Planning
  • Organisation and Execution
  • Character

The good news is the persona of the Methodical Innovator can be developed if you were not born with it. Let’s explore this in detail.

The persona of Methodical Innovator

Trianz research suggests that Methodical Innovators are more successful in bringing about digital transformations. Why? 

First, Methodical Innovators develop an extraordinary understanding of every situation at a big-picture level. They can connect the dots and boil down complex dynamics into simple, easy-to-understand root causes, dynamics, and impacts.

They are also intensely stakeholder-focused. For instance, if they are in marketing or sales, they are customer-focused; if they are in procurement, they are supplier-focused; if they are in HR, they are employee-focused.

What makes Methodical Innovators so successful at transformations is that they visualise them in terms of quantifiable value, and measurable outcomes for stakeholders. Based on these analyses, they analyse data across their ecosystems and develop a vision, strategy, and priorities. Being laser-focused on outcomes, they are not driven by emotions and are willing to let go of prior business models and processes if the analytics support that.

They are also relentless executors who understand that the change is iterative and underscore the urgency of getting things done since they know time is not on their side. Success to them is all about aligning and nurturing talent. This makes them people-oriented, and they invest heavily in preparing their talent.

The foundational element of the Methodical Innovator persona is character. While leadership skills, experience, ambition, drive, and motivational abilities are essential, what defines Methodical Innovators is character.

They practice a “no ego” approach and at their very core is inherent honesty. They are honest with themselves and realise the importance of knowing what they do not know. When the scale of the problem, the power of the forces, and what they do not know dawns on them, they quickly build a team with more expert members than them in their respective fields.

Setting yourself up for successful digital transformations

Digital transformation requires more than an investment in new digital tools and processes; it needs a driven leadership that can change the mindsets.

I think that as a leader if you acknowledge that you do not know or have all the necessary facts and information, you are being honest. This means you can focus on winning by overcoming uncertainties, ensuring that your team succeeds with minimal casualties. Methodical Innovators are – or become – very good at this, according to Manchala.

When leadership divines the catalytic mixture of data and analytics that drive the insights along with the culture and people who drive the change, only then can the Methodical Innovator develop a digital organisation poised to succeed in a digital age.

About Trianz

Trianz helps leaders and organisations to reimagine value to stakeholders and transform with digital technologies, advising clients that technology does not make digital transformations effective, people do. Committed to a data-driven approach, via its research organisation Trasers, Trianz has studied digital transformations across 20 industries worldwide, collecting data from business and technology leaders from 5,000-plus companies. Trianz’s strategy, business model, process and technology implementation services are powered by data on digital transformations and two decades of experience in driving change.

About KC Sreeram

Part of Trianz’s leadership team since 2009, KC Sreeram uses his experience as an IT strategist to engage with C-level business groups to help them understand the big picture of digital evolution. Relating these concepts to each client’s own business, KC underscores how they can apply them toward improving.


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