Digital Transformation is in the C-Suite’s Blind Spot

Aug 24, 2016
5 Min Read
Digital Transformation is in the C-Suite’s Blind Spot

Do your high-level executives know what’s really going on in your organization? Regarding digital transformation and other high priority initiatives, the answer is most likely, "No," according to two recent surveys.

Digital Transformation Race - Quick Base annual report graphic 2016

In our digital transformation survey of 301 senior IT and operations professionals, we discovered that C-level executives have a very different view of the priority and progress of digital transformation initiatives than lower-level managers at their organizations.  An astounding 97% of senior management views digital transformation as higher than most other priorities in their organizations, compared to 68% of other managers.

Even more dramatic is the overconfidence of the C-suite about their organizations’ progress toward achieving digital transformation. An overwhelming 70% of senior management vs. only 30% of other managers believes that their organizations are ahead of similar organizations in the same industry. Besides the mathematical impossibility of 70% of organizations in an industry being above average, these high expectations are at great risk of being dashed on the rocks of reality.

C-Suite is Focused on What’s Ahead

C-level executives are right to keep their eyes on the road ahead to select and formulate the strategic goals, vision, and initiatives for their organizations. They must stay focused on high level market, customer and competitor forces that could slow or derail their organization’s successful pursuit of strategic goals. By necessity, top executives must delegate responsibility for day-to-day decisions and implementations to lower level managers and their teams for the work on the ground.

Watch Out for the Blind Spot

Many organizations are unaware that the view from the C-suite is blind to what strategic initiative work is or is not actually being done at their organizations.  When C-suite executives find out that digital transformation hasn’t progressed as quickly and smoothly as they expected, they will ask why the organization has failed to follow their instructions in making digital transformation a top priority. They may even question why they were kept in the dark about the events and reasons causing these delays and shortcomings. That is not a conversation that anyone wants to have.

It turns out that digital transformation is not the only blind spot for C-suite executives. A 2016 information security survey revealed similar overconfidence in the C-suite about progress in another high priority, risky business for every organization.

How to Deal with Blind Spots

In addition to acknowledging that these blind spots exist, organizations should take several steps to provide all managers better visibility into strategic initiatives such as digital transformation.

First, identify what type and level of information is needed by C-suite and other managers to be able to accurately evaluate progress of the selection or development and implementation of solutions needed for achieving strategic goals.

Second, select people across the organization with the right tools to measure and capture data about the status of budgets and timelines associated with people, technologies, and processes.

Third, provide access to reports and dashboards that roll up results at the appropriate level of detail for C-suite executives and other managers to receive timely, accurate and relevant updates and visibility into their organizations’ progress and any barriers requiring their attention.

Better visibility is clearly the key to overcoming blind spots that cause overconfidence in the C-suite about progress in the pursuit of digital transformation.

Learn how to improve business process visibility across your organization with expert Steve Bonacorsi, President, International Standard for Lean Six Sigma. View the OnDemand Webinar here.

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