The DigiFit — How does your leadership score in DigiSkills? (3/8)

This is a series of 8 blogposts on Digital Leadership.

Digital is becoming core to businesses and this century seeing the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook, Alibaba and AliPay taking over the world stock indices. This is the era of the digital age following on from the steam, electricity and industrial revolutions. At your fingertips, your mobile is the driving force of this shadow world powered by the Internet. However, we are not all equipped to face this digital age; the established leadership generation is still catching-up with technologies. Here is an anecdote: I remember a couple of years back, we responded to a client who very much wanted to have a mobile-first proposition for their online business (remember smartphones only celebrated their 10thanniversary this year). After reviewing our 150-page proposal, I put a single post-it on top: we had not mentioned the word Mobile, not even once. The senior team had visualised a website-first offering. None of the other suppliers had made the selection either in this first round.

Digital have changed the face of our economy, society and organisation. The Kodak effect is progressively entering Financial Services through the form of Fintech, HealthTech, Cyber, Education, RegTech. And as Mary Meeker pointed it last year in her excellent annual report. It is just the beginning.

I was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post on how we nurture digital talent: when it comes to digital, it’s not about putting millennials in charge of your leadership, it’s about evolving the mindset of your organisation. There is an opportunity to equip the most senior leaders with advanced digital skills, to lead business and strategy in a digital world. An MIT-Capgemini survey shows that leaders embracing culture and technology changes perform on average 26% better than traditional companies. Harvard Business Review said ‘The key step is inversion — taking on new thoughts and beliefs that will likely conflict with those traditional in your industry and business. Changing mental model is the important first step. The next is to actually allocate capital differently.’

We can classify digital leadership in 4 categories Learners, Conservative, Hipsters, Digiratis

Digital Gurus can be said to have the following skills:

• Customer empathy

• Digital distribution strategies

• Venture Design & Innovation

• Tech and Customer trends understanding

• Intrapreneurship mindset — Test, learn and fail

• Industry connectedness — open to the outside and collaborative

A few companies have launched change programmes to deploy at digital at scale:

• GE has a group-wide training programme by the famous Eric Ries on lean start-up, as well as a specialist leader programme

• IBM launched a programme for corporate start-up enabling employees to start their business from within

How to mobilise a digital leadership programme?

Digital is something you learn by doing and execs are a demanding population wo are generally time poor. The most effective programmes, as we have seen above are generally led by the top. Group your leadership team by ‘squads’ on the model of Spotify. Identify the movers and shakers of your leadership team and give them a role to move their mindset. Here is then a couple of programmes you can start:

Reverse mentoring: Launch a reverse mentoring programme; do exchange programmes with Tech giants; run shadow executive committees by Millennials and get them to report to you on how they made their decisions

SmartUp: Develop opportunities for size-byte learnings to boost tech & start-up expertise through new learning mediums and start-up interactions

Attackers: get your executive team on a Hackathon to focus on disruption and new business models. What can we learn from the most nimble start-up?

Intrapreneurship: Get a professional coach to embed new ways of working such as lean start-up, service design, Agile or Holacracy

8 questions to ask yourself so as to assess your DigiFit and plug yourself on the matrix

· Do you actively use digital in your day to day life? (1pt on digital intensity)

· Do you have a vision on how the business will change through digital? (1pt on transformation)

· To what extend are you able to learn about your customers through digital ways? (1pt on digital intensity)

· Do you promote Digital as part of your communication? (1pt on transformation)

· Do you think Mobile first? (1pt on digital intensity)

· Do you create an environment where you hire digital talent that can be unleashed? (1pt on transformation)

· Do you leverage the new ways of working from start-ups and then embed them in the core business? (1pt on digital intensity)

· Are you connecting digital and physical in a cost effective way? (1pt on digital transformation)

Books to read:

• Digital Leaders — George Westerman and Didier Bonnet

• Augmented — Brett King

• The 12 driving forces

• Works @ Google — Laszlo Block

• Blockchain — Don Tapscott

• Value Web — Chris Skinner


The series of 7 blogs is inspired by my daily interactions with senior leaders across industries. As Digital became the norm, several leaders are transitioning their leadership.

I am Claire Calmejane, a computer engineer who has spent a decade supporting large organisations harness the power of Digital. I am always scouting for talent across the globe for my projects, if you are passionate, feel free to reach out!

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