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Leading Digital Transformation (DX)
In my article, Digital Transformation isn’t just about employing a CDO, I discussed digital transformation and touched briefly on how important it was that an organisation had the right person leading Digital Transformation (DX), be that a CIO, CMO, CDO or COO. The aim of DX is to drive continual improvements in services, products and experiences that your customers will love and actively promote. I want to continue the digital transformational theme but delve deeper in to the leadership side of a transformation as this will heavily influence the outcome of any change initiative, digital or otherwise. Get it wrong and it will be to the detriment of your customers and business.
The aim of DX is to drive continual improvements in services, products and experiences that customers will love and promote @peteyatesnz
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Before any transformation can really be successful your chosen DX leader should possess a number key attributes, such as a visionary with a willingness to change the way an organisation operates whilst balancing the current and future needs of the organisation as well as the ability to empower individuals/teams. Their ability to converse with all parts of the organisation in terms of customer outcomes rather than technology solutions is also fundamental, that said being technology literate is also important.
Who leads is more important than ever
Lack of a clear strategy, leadership and the inability to balance the “old and new worlds” as well as being unable to attract and retain talent will seriously inhibit any organisation’s digital aspirations. The position and more importantly the person leading digital transformtion is critical in bringing those that are less digitally inclined along for the journey, by being a visionary and story teller who can navigate through what is bound to be periods of uncertainty and fluidity. Their role is to lead the business strategy, vision creation, execution and to give guidance, where they must empower and drive their teams to deliver on that strategy and vision rather than dictate. Positively challenging the status quo is also essential, as is navigating the internal politics of an organisation to DX change and to re-align mind-sets to new digital way.
Culture of empowerment
The appropriate culture and empowering of teams is key to attracting and retaining your people, whilst also providing a working environment that supports cross team working and collaboration. Leaders must show true empathy and listen to their people and customers so they are able to identify the root cause of any problem, rather than going straight to a solution. Critical to any transformation is the ability of the leader to get the company executive team on-board and the organisation as a whole excited by their vision and strategy for the transformation; this will help bring teams and people along for the ride. Articulating the new digital world will also help your teams decide if they actually want to buy in to the transformation.
“On making people pay attention: ‘You can have the best technology, you can have the best business model, but if the storytelling isn’t amazing, it won’t matter. Nobody will watch” Jeff Bezos
From an article in Forbes.com by IESE Business School on The 5 Keys to a Digital Mind-set
Characteristics/personality of DX leadership
The title of the person leading the transformation is not as important as the characteristics/personality of that leader, such as being transparent, visible, with the ability to model the new behaviours required. A visionary leader is also critical to leading Digital Transformation, especially for their ability to quickly gain organisational trust, giving them the mandate whilst allowing them to create, execute and embody the transformation vision and business strategy. With the variety of generations now in the work force understanding how to/what motive/s these people are essential – it could be as simple as celebrating success and getting to know them as individuals, and what drives them? Knowing your people will give you an insight into what motivates and ultimately engages them to ensure a successful transformation and a good leader with all the right characteristics is essential for this.
Key leadership characteristics/requirements for Leading Digital Transformation:
The mandate and confidence of the Executive team to drive change
Challenge the status quo whilst balancing old and new worlds
Visionary story teller
Models future state through actions
Navigate internal politics
Gaining organisational trust
Creating and gaining buy in to a digital vision
Empower and engage teams
Executing and driving delivery of strategy
Customer outcomes rather than technology
Reading a Microsoft blog post about a new artificial intelligence designed to play the perfect game of Ms. Pac-Man, I couldn’t help but think about playing a tabletop version of Atari’s classic video game as a kid in the entertainment centre of a hotel in Brandon, Manitoba, which happened to be next to the pool.
My sister and I would swim in the pool, then get out and run across the deck into the games room, dripping wet. We’d plug quarters into the machine, sit down to play, and –surprise, surprise – start receiving tiny electrical shocks whenever our wet fingers touched the metal part of the joystick just below the red knob.
The funny thing is, that didn’t keep us from playing. Every time our hands slipped down we’d get a little jolt of pain, but we’d keep going. Our brains registered the negative feedback, but categorized it as minor (i.e. non-life threatening) and overrode the impulse to stop in favour of the pleasure of playing and the desire to win.
A similar type of human-like intelligence seems to be at work in an AI created by Maluuba – a deep-learning start-up based in Waterloo, Ontario that was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year – which has been designed to achieve the maximum score of 999,990 playing the Atari 2600 version of Ms. Pac-Man.
The AI uses a “divide and conquer” method that involves some 150 separate AI agents working on distinct tasks. Each one is assigned as specific objective, such as eating a particular pellet. But all of the agents’ objectives – and their strategies to achieve them – are routed through a single top agent that takes a broader view and chooses a course of action. The top agent doesn’t choose how to act based on the majority of agents’ recommendations – it’s not going to steer Ms. Pac-Man into an approaching ghost just because it’s the shortest route to a bunch of pellets – but rather what’s most likely to achieve the ultimate objective of winning the game.
In my mind it’s kind of like a prime minister listening to advisors with different viewpoints before determining how to proceed based on a broader understanding of multiple problems.
This type of AI learning is called reinforcement learning, in which individual agents receive positive and negative feedback based on the choices they make. They’re programmed to try to achieve more positive feedback than negative, but the top agent makes the final call – meaning some agents’ desires go temporarily unfulfilled in pursuit of a grander goal.
Games are used in AI research because they tend to require human-style decision making, and Ms. Pac-Man is particularly well suited for AI learning due to the unpredictability of its constantly changing game situations. But the potential applications for AI trained on games go far beyond achieving high scores. As the Microsoft post points out, an AI that cuts its teeth on Ms. Pac-Man could go on to make complex decisions in business environments – such as coming up with call lists for sales executives by prioritizing clients based on known information about their histories and schedules – that end up saving human resources valuable time.
As for me, I’m keen to know what decision Maluuba’s AI master agent would have made in the position I found myself in as a kid receiving negative feedback in the form of electric shocks. What would it have deemed more important: avoiding minor physical discomfort, or enduring the pain to gobble up that last pellet to get to the next level?
I didn’t end up scoring anywhere close to 999,990 that day back in the 1980s, but I like to think Maluuba’s Ms. Pac-Man-crushing AI would nonetheless have approved of my choice to endure.
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Breakdown: Buffett invests in Home Capital 2:08
Based on recent news coming out of Canada’s Largest Bank, RBC and Amazon’s recent about small business lending growth – it is clear that Digital Disruption has shaken up the Banking Sector.
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