4 steps to adopting a digital transformation mindset

Digital transformation is a priority for the boardroom but a change in the company's mindset is necessary first.
19 March 2018

Everything is transforming but you need the mindset for it | Source: Pixabay

Digital transformation changes the DNA of the organization. It breaks down the silos, rinses existing processes, and makes sure the business is leaner, faster, agile, and more responsive than ever before.

However, too often, business leaders forget that for such a transformation to be successful, it needs to be backed by a corresponding cultural shift.

“For any transformation to be successful, people need to buy into your vision. The culture aspect and the technology demand equal attention from the application leader, because culture will form the backbone of all change initiatives for their digital business transformation.

“The staff trapped in a ‘fixed’ mindset may slow down or, worse, derail the digital business transformation initiatives of the company,” said Aashish Gupta, Research Analyst at Gartner.

In order to drive that cultural change, businesses need to invest in it. An online clothes and shoe retailer that Gartner cited, instructs all of its new hires to experience its call center. This, the company believes, allows employees to gain a holistic view of the business and helps them understand why customer service is the backbone of it.

If you’re looking for a plan to drive the cultural change, here’s a four-step plan recommended by Gartner:

Create a compelling vision

Your vision should be able to inspire and motivate a desire for change. Craft it carefully, share it with stakeholders, and ensure that everyone is on the same page as you are – seeking and pursuing growth.

“A growth mindset demands people to be comfortable with the speed of the digital era, and they must be willing to make quick and risky bets instead of slow and safe bets,” said Gupta.


What gets measured, gets managed,” said management guru Peter Drucker. When you’re pursuing a mindset change, similarly, you need to ensure your staff knows what behavioral attributes reflect the change and the individual KPIs or goals that must be targeted.


To make the concrete changes and give employees a strong sense of direction, the HR function must update individual job descriptions. Doing so involves a lot of extra effort, but can help make a profound impact because it adds stability to how change is introduced, facilitated, and managed.

“Acceptance will happen only if the change is visible throughout the organization. You should incentivize people to share knowledge or learn new skills,” said Gupta.

Measure, monitor and wait

Inspiring a change in your employees’ mindset isn’t going to be quick but it’s going to reap significant dividends in the long run.

Gartner advises business leaders to allow some time for changes to percolate and to continuously survey employees about how they understand and perceive the change.

“Be patient. Fostering a growth mindset culture that requires behavior changes among your staff takes time. However, the rewards are considerable as everyone perseveres, learns, grows and accepts that potential is nurtured, not predetermined,” explained Gupta.

In an age where companies are increasing their allocations towards digital transformation projects, the cultural shift is key to delivering results. And while Gupta evangelizes the importance of an organization’s culture during such a transition, he’s not a lone crusader.

Peter Bodin, global CEO of Grant Thornton International (GTI) also shares the same belief:

How you train people and develop the leadership that’s going to take people through the change. The real game changer will be the kind of culture that organizations will build, amid such uncertainty. Those that are best in talent development, harnessing leadership, and building the organizational culture that can adapt to the new world are going to be the winners in this game.

There are other CEOs and senior leaders who understand the key role that culture plays in digital transformations, but it’s not something that’s actioned upon. That’s the change, Gupta seems to want to see in companies this year.