Building the Agile Business through Digital Transformation: How to Lead Digital Transformation in Your Workplace
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Building the Agile Business through Digital Transformation is a guide for organizational development professionals and change managers needing to better understand, implement and lead digital transformation in the workplace. It sets aside traditional thinking and outdated strategies to explain what steps need to be taken for an organization to become truly agile. It addresses how to build organizational velocity and establish iterative working, remove unnecessary process, embed innovation, map strategy to motivation and develop talent to succeed.
Building the Agile Business through Digital Transformation provides guidance on how to set the pace and frequency for change and shows how to break old habits and reform the behaviours of a workforce to embed digital transformation, achieve organizational agility and ensure high performance. Full of practical advice, examples and real-life insights from organizational development professionals at the leading edge of digital transformation, this book is an essential guide to building an agile business.
"An essential and comprehensive guide for those leading digital transformation in their business or wanting to truly understand the impact of digital on modern leadership practice." (Louise Howells, Global Head of Leadership Development, TUI)
"Neil and Peter are one of the best choices to help anyone respond to the challenges of digital transformation - and their book is a veritable goldmine as they share dozens of bottom lines and powerful stories with the reader. Read this book to not just innovate but to transform your business!" (Gerd Leonhard, Futurist and Author, Technology vs Humanity)
"Peter Abraham and Neil Perkin take us on a world tour of digital transformation. This book is a necessity for executives, senior leaders and change agents. It is a well-rounded; well-referenced account with really interesting stories from the very best organizations, bringing digital transformation to life. I was always curious how these organizations worked, weren't you? A must-read..." (John Coleman, Agility Change Chef)
"In times of rapid change, evolving with the new rules of consumer engagement and leveraging digital channels is now a must for every business in every sector. This book clearly distils key insights, strategies, examples and advice - providing the tools for anyone wanting to grow, advance and transform their business." (Jeremy Willmott, Director, Group Consumer Engagement)
"This is the handbook that I wish I had written. A must read for organisation going through Digital Transformation... It cuts through the hype and buzzwords into simple, practical insights that all of us can learn from and apply." (Marco Ryan, Chief Digital Officer, Wartsila Corporation)
"Reads like a field guide for digital transformation. Full of actionable insights, frameworks and practical advice for any organisation preparing for a digital-empowered world." (Ben Malbon, Senior Director, Google)
"I think this is an important book. A lot has been written about various aspects of 'agile' but nowhere else have I seen the thinking and practice brought to light so intelligently and comprehensively as here." (Ashley Friedlein, Founder of Econsultancy)
"Packed full of insights, actionable ideas and other people's experiences, a toolkit to build on no matter where you sit in an organisation or the stage of change you're at." (Sean Cornwell, Chief Digital Officer, Travelex)
"Pragmatic, yet ruthlessly visionary, this fast-paced book is a wide-ranging and generously-referenced handbook. Ideal both as a c-suite primer and as a ready-reference for practitioners, this is a triumph of distillation by two of our sector's pioneers." (Ian Jindal, Leadership & Transformation in Multichannel Retail & Ecommerce.)
"Whatever your business, the prospect of staying ahead of digital transformation is daunting. Neil and Peter have created an outstandingly researched guide that anyone can implement to lead their own transformation." (Bruce Daisley, VP EMEA, Twitter)
"A fantastic guide to conquering the challenges of continuous and accelerating change in today's digital world. Neil and Peter are masters of agile business transformation, and they've bottled their experience and wisdom into a highly actionable book. A must-read for modern leadership" (Scott Brinker, Author, Hacking Marketing)
"Disruption is all about mindset. Dealing with uncertainty is a challenge leaders need to integrate into their modus operandi. Building the Agile Business through Digital Transformation will help you unlock a treasure." (Arjen van Berkum, Chief Disruption Officer and Entrepreneur)
"Building the Agile Business through Digital Transformation is the definitive guide for every executive and intrapeneur looking to navigate the exponential changes that every company must deal with or succumb to...A practical how-to you will refer to again and again, it is expansive but not exhausting. With meticulously researched ideas and insights that provide frameworks for understanding why change is both necessary and hard, it's the handbook you need to help you create company you always wished you worked at." (Faris Yakob, Founder Genius Steals and Author of Paid Attention)
About the Author
Neil Perkin is a renowned blogger and founder of digital and media consultancy Only Dead Fish. An expert on organization agility, content strategy, emerging media and digital strategy, Neil curates the quarterly series of Firestarters thought leadership events for Google UK.
Peter Abraham is co-founder of weareCrank, a business which provides clarity for ecommerce business acceleration. He was formerly the executive vice president of Econsultancy.com, has over 15 years' experience in creative and media and another 20 years' experience helping global companies define their digital strategy and build digital centres of excellence to support digital transformation.
Most helpful customer reviews
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Personality matters and how you (and your colleagues) present and portray themselves can have a marked impact on your success. This is the key message of this book, which suggests that a founder or key leader’s personality and outward presentation can make a significant contribution to a project’s or company’s success, working in conjunction with other well-known factors.
It can be one of the few factors you can directly and specifically influence with a degree of certainty, yet it seems to be often overlooked. This book may help you change that and certainly if you manage to get this area under control then it can have the potential to influence other areas for mutual benefit.
The authors used an analytic methodology to identify four distinct personalities that can be found within successful business builder personalities, and here they leverage this with other research, interviews, academic information and real-world interactions to great effect to present their views. The result is this book and its potential to let you transform yourself, with a guided toolbox at your disposal, and then the rest of the future success pathway is down to you and your possible creations.
The book was written in a clear, hype-free manner, which provides a credible and informative read. No faux inspiration or ‘blowing smoke’ was needed here. You may read this and still feel it is ‘not you’ but that need not be a failure of the book or the reader. Leadership is not for everyone, some people work better in the shadows than in the spotlight, but still there is scope for positive change for all thanks to this book.
It is certainly something worthy of closer consideration and may be a vital aid to you going forward.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.
Comprehensive and useful guide for tackling digital complexity
By Dan Weingrod
The term “Digital Transformation” has become a recent addition to the “buzzword bingo” for harried executives and corporate change agents. The great strength of this book does is that it moves beyond the familiar rosy rationales and exhortations for transformation and prescribes real world approaches and solutions for creating effective change. Using agile as more of a state of culture instead a strict formula the authors have fashioned a contemporary, nearly encyclopedic, highly usable guide to building and inspiring much-needed change in any organization.
Among the many positive features is the book’s organization of key attributes of transformation around section headings of Velocity, Focus and Flexibility. These attributes are familiar to those who work in Agile, but the authors’ accomplishment is in using them to frame and bring much-needed context into the discussion. Each of these sections intermixes not only relevant excerpts from scholarly research, but also supporting articles and solid examples of real world usage. At its best the book blends these sources and ties them together to bring a highly nuanced and effective view of a complex subject.
While many readers, myself included, may find familiar ideas and sources here, (including some from the author’s excellent blog postings), the feat the authors have accomplished is to juxtapose and connect these ideas to bring new perspective and thinking. And it doesn’t hurt that they do this with insight and great “deckworthy” phrases such as: “The secret is to design with vision and optimize with feedback”. And while at times it feels like there may be a bit too much information here, my sense is that that at the book will function as a handy reference for the digital challenges we’ll be facing in the coming years.
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
Or: Building business through cultural transformation
By Tim Harrap
Never judge a book by its cover. For agile evangelists, this book may carry a lot that they know from the gospel of agile. However, they should read further and see how Neil Perkin and Peter Abraham meld into the narrative models of change management which lay the ground work for the dynamics of the world of work and the economy that we experience today.
Conversely those digital immigrants born prior to the arrival of the digital world are given a hand to comprehend the world view that encompasses the inversion of many strategies that the capitalist system has taken for granted in the late 20th century.
The first part, on the digital native organization, offers a review of the state of play in terms of disruption and defining digital transformation. The seeds are sown here to awaken the digital native and the digital immigrant to the fact that the advent of the internet is changing everything in its path leaving cultural changes in its wake that we are only just beginning to acknowledge and come to terms with.
There are a number of models used throughout this book to appraise the core formula that Agile = (Velocity + Focus + Flexibility). Each of the criteria has its own section widening the understanding of what these elements mean to the wider project of agile business through digital transformation. Parts two, three and four dissect these key elements of Velocity, Focus & Flexibility.
The Velocity section is where a digital immigrant will suffer a “lost in translation” moment when the terms and attitudes described do not wholly meld with what you might currently engage with. At play are narratives from the corporate and super-corporate world – an effort must be made to translate the knowledge gained here into the environments of the broader economy i.e. of SME’s. It is worth noting that the size of corporations, like Jane Jacobs writings on cities, necessitates the emergence of villages or smaller communities that can combine and cohere at a human level. I am sure the authors do not want this book to be only read by the digerati.
Excluding Focus from your “agile business” efforts lead to a slapdash approach in your work suggest the authors – so true. The UK Government Digital Service (GDS) comes in for praise for being able to transform digital methods, outcomes and expectations. Much like Bill Bailey, the British comedian suggesting you work from the laugh back to the joke, GDS want digital transformation to start with user’s needs – not government needs and keep it simple. Senior business management need that idea drilled into their heads and hearts.
Further on GDS and data driven decision-making: “Success through data depends on widespread process and practice adoption, comprehensive strategy and application, but also on supportive behaviours. It needs to be embedded within the culture.” A worthy statement but I am not sure quite what the supportive behaviours are for them. Here in the middle of the book is perhaps the crux of the digital transformation we face between “Death Star IT” departments and the fleet of foot user/network or node.
Technological determinism is always just running under the surface of the narrative here. An example is the discussion of financial resourcing that should be “fast and flexible” – OK - but the political processes involved here can get lost in a black box where the power structures are not easily understood or available for interpretation.
This essence of “black box” comes to the fore again when it is suggested the use of data in design be used to validate and drive decision making (p164)– and yet five pages earlier “only 1% of the world’s data has been analysed.” By default, a decision (a political decision) has been made as to what data is relevant.
Terms are introduced like “scrum”, “sprint” and “holacracy” with little explanation, which for those less versed in the agile terminology should have had a few sentences of explanation. Having to reference on an online link for a full view (of Holacracy for instance) whilst perhaps common in the blogosphere limits the engagement with the narrative in a book.
Yes, data driven analysis is expected from the digital world but at its fundamental core is the human relationships which no amount of data will exclude interpretation. One has to be so careful of technological determinism and the exclusion of the political narrative.
Just when you think the digital natives have got the upper hand it is good to see in the Flexibility section that the change model of David Smith is introduced in detail. David Smith works on the key understanding that businesses are run by Managers, Leaders and Entrepreneurs. Leaders being pivotal to the communication across any business or organization. This high-level model could have been introduced at the start of this book to have a cohering structure outside the frame of agile in its complexity. It is a fruitful model for the individual too as we all have the manager, leader and entrepreneur embedded within us.
This is a great effort by the authors to conjure and contain the myriad pressures seen and experienced within our societies and work environments at the moment. The old ways of working in a structured and disciplined way have been turned inside out by the advent of the internet. Those old ways of working have been exposed as the internet enters – everywhere. This is making the culture of transformation all too apparent and creating reactionary narratives across societies. Neil Perkin and Peter Abraham have delivered a wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom in these 262 pages – enough thought provoking such that you will have to read it more than once.
Criticisms. An explanation of key terms and acronyms would have been useful – as already mentioned about scrums etc. The index left something to be desired. And, most importantly only on page 207 did we get the first mention of women in the narrative. Gender needs highlighting and taking out of that “black box”. As an immigrant I still appreciate a formal bibliography or at least a key text list.
The cover title says, “Building the agile business through digital transformation.” It might have simply said “Building business through cultural transformation” for that is in essence what it is describing. The title as it stands is speaking to a certain constituency, do not let that make you shy away from engaging with this book.
In 2009 Neil Perkin reported that “Someone once told me”: “Do not covert your ideas. Give away everything you know and more will come back to you.” He continues to live by that ethos on his blog: Only Dead Fish, his weekly Fishfood and Post of the Month compilation. You can buy his book (and Peter Abraham’s) and sign up to his great giving away.