Fail Fast and Cheap to Succeed in Your Digital Transformation Initiatives

Agility is one of the primary pillars in Architecting Digital Transformation and key attributes of entrepreneurs. In this economic climate, as entrepreneurs and transformational leaders, in our roles such as enterprise, business, data, and technology architects, we must focus on agility, act quickly, and think on our feet at all times. Our agile approach at work, in our entrepreneurial interactions, and relationships with business and technical stakeholders can make us more influential, competitive, and productive leaders to create desired and expected business value from our distinguished leadership.

From my experience, I can assure that it is not feasible to undertake successful enterprise modernisation and digital transformation initiatives with old methods any more. As this became a tough reality, many business organisations had to accept the situation and embrace agility in delivering their services and products rapidly. Therefore, agility became a particular concern for digital transformation goals as consumer demands increased with fast-paced delivery requirements for business value.

Speed to market became the most fundamental requirements of businesses and set the agenda of senior leadership teams in many business organisations. The requirements of speed to market caused the agile approaches to become the new norm in modernising and transforming ecosystems. We know that business products are expected to be released faster than they were in the past. Security updates and bug fixes of digital products are required more frequently than the older ones. In short, agility can affect all aspects of enterprise modernisation and digital transformation initiatives.

From organisational culture perspective, promoting agile in transforming ecosystems became relatively easier due to its nature and compelling business value. There appears to be a dichotomy between two generations in many business organisations. For example, agile turned to be a particular interest to the new generations, especially to the millennials, as they grow with agility in all walks of life. However, the older generation still holds a sentimental attachment to waterfall approaches. From my observations, there appears to be some comfort zone created for using waterfall methods constantly by the older generation.

In addition, there is a common perception by the older generations that agile methods can cut things short hence reduce the quality. From my experience , this is not true, or at least context specific hence cannot be generalised. This perception must be challenged with cogent arguments. For example, it is empirically and logically evident that an agile approach can increase the quality due to iterative progress by checking quality more frequently in every iterative milestone.

In digital transformation initiatives, as entrepreneurs, one of our key questions is: how to make our business and IT footprint more intuitive, responsive, and nimble in order to meet the growing demands of our consumers, add better business value, and serve them better. This powerful and fundamental principle can keep us laser-sharped-focused on our critical mission.

Whist dealing with legacy business and IT footprint concerns by analysing and understanding them with an agile approach, we also must hold the vision of transitioning, improving, modernising, and transforming our services and products strategically, tactically, and with agility. This balanced act for business as usual and transformation domains can make the biggest difference for generating business value for our organisation and customers. We must put our energies on constant rapid-paced iterative deliverables in this dynamic ecosystem made up of a mixture of legacy and modern components.

As transformational leaders, the onus is on us to find the ways to articulate the benefits, compelling reasons, and influence the stakeholders to use the agile approach in digital transformation initiatives. One fundamental premise that we can practically highlight to our stakeholders is that: it is not feasible to wait and see the end of a gigantic digital transformation initiative. There are many unknowns; hence, it is not possible to see the end product without constant experimentation with trial and errors in smaller scales.

From an entrepreneurial standpoint, an agile approach can allow the digital transformation team members to test their ideas iteratively and proactively. If they fail, they fail fast, and cheaply without costing prohibitive funds to the initiatives. This principle poses positive business, financial, and commercial implications.

This compelling business value must be understood by all stakeholders establishing critical success factors and must be embedded in the culture of the business organisations striving for improving, modernising, and transforming the legacy ecosystem.

As transformational leaders with strong entrepreneurial mindset, we must be the pragmatic change catalysts for conveying this critical message, infusing a paradigm shift to the culture with fusion principles, adapting to the constant change for digital fitness, and making the necessary cultural adjustments iteratively, productively, and effectively.

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