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Faculty & Research


Don’t Put a Digital Expert in Charge of Your Digital Transformation

Journal Article
Although a digital guru may understand how to create a digital business from scratch without the constraints faced by an established business, when you put them in a real company setting, they will often fail simply because they don’t understand the business. Typically their downfall starts early, as soon as they start broadcasting their vision for the complete transformation of the company without listening carefully to how the business operates and to the real needs of leaders and customers. This is typically followed by a period when the guru castigates the rest of the company for slowness and inertia, culminating in spinning digital off into a separate unit where the team has the freedom to create what it envisions, which in the end is too disconnected from the core organization to succeed. And that was what the authors saw at nearly all of the 50 companies they studied that chose a digital guru. By contrast, insiders with little digital experience who were placed at the head of digital initiatives succeeded about 80% of the time. Why? Because ultimately digital transformation is as much about organization change as it is about technology.

Professor of Strategy

Professor of Strategy