Digital transformation is often portrayed as the magic solution to whatever you are struggling with. It is the proverbial hammer looking for anything that either resembles a nail or can be hit. It can be hard to argue against digital transformation. However, in discussing digital solutions, especially new technologies, with organisations and project teams here are three helpful questions:
1. What is the problem we are trying to solve? Or what is the purpose/impact we are trying to achieve more efficiently?
These questions helps move us away from the technology and back to the project itself. They also helps give us a criteria for success that is project related, not technology related.
2. If the technology or digital solution is working well, what problems or challenges will still remain?
This is a gentle way of getting people to think beyond the technology. Often it leads to identifying challenges in existing business processes, people, organisational culture, or the context in which we are working. The key here is not accepting ‘nothing’ as an answer.
3. If the technology or digital solution is found/used, what new challenges will be created?
This question is usually met with momentary confused looks, followed by eureka looks. Again the key here is not accepting ‘nothing’ as an answer as new challenges are always created – sometimes its human capacity challenges, other times is data management challenges, or trust issues, or it changes how we work. Similarly to above, it can be helpful to think about business processes, people, organisational culture, or the context in which we are working.
The above questions are very different questions than the standard ‘criteria’ questions. And they are best asked in group conversations not on some digital survey or form to fill out. The idea behind them is to enable teams and organisations to have realistic expectations as they embrace digital solutions. Occasionally, after discussing these questions, I see teams decide not to adopt a digital solutions. However, that is very rare. Most of the time, teams alter their plans slightly to include a more supportive environment. They realise it’s not just a technology problem they are working on.