Defeat into victory

The Road to Transformation as told by Bill Slim

Part 2 of the discussion around digital transformation

Digital transformation is everywhere these days.  Everyone wants it, and every CEO, CFO, CIO, CXO, Head of Digital Disruption & Head of Customer Experience all promise it.  But what is it really, and how can we do it? Or how can we do it faster, better, stronger?

This article is Part 2 of a series around digital transformation.  In this article I want to share some parallels between Digital Transformation and one of my favourite books called Defeat into Victory, written by Bill Slim.

The book talks about:

  • The need to have clear goals, set from a senior level but delegated effectively to the right level within the organisation.
  • Goals need to be small and able to be achieved in a short timeframe, ideally starting with easier targets.  This allows the team to see progress and allows you to build towards the bigger and more difficult components that will undoubtedly follow.  But you can’t start with the hard bits, or you risk never starting.
  • The need to build capability in the team.  Give them the right tools for the job and trust in their ability.
  • It talks about the need to build confidence in the team.  The team need to be confident that they are going to be able to deliver.  It identifies the best way to do this, is to bring in additional and experienced capability, especially early on.  For many organisations they lack the inherent confidence to change the way they have operated previously. So bringing in additional skilled and capable resources means that, right from the beginning, you will be successful.  Yes it may mean that you throw more at the first couple of goals, but this will build confidence in the team and the broader stakeholders, certainty of process and repeatability – all of which are essential to deliver the long term goals.
  • Celebrating success.  This is essential as it provides the reward for the effort the team has contributed.  It helps cement the learnings and the confidence.
  • Taking the first small successes, and building from there.  Learning and repeating the process over and over again.

All of these things are essential to digital disruption.

Like I said in Part 1 of this series, ServiceNow is built to be a digital transformation engine.  If you aren’t using it for that, then you are missing out on a power toolset that can deliver significant value to your IT department, to your internal customers (esp finance, HR, field services, legal, risk, customer engagement) and your external customers.

The entrago team bring significant experience in driving digital transformation using ServiceNow and other associated technologies (digital user experience, IoT, AI, etc).

By the way, if you look for the book, Bill is just a nickname.  His full title is Field Marshal William Joseph Slim, 1st Viscount Slim, KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC, KStJ.  The book is actually about the huge transformation that he led in the 14th Army. So, it wasn’t really a digital transformation, but the change in team outcome was enormous and led to the defeat of the Japanese army in Burma in 1944.  It is, nonetheless, a great book, and the lessons are absolutely relevant. If you want to turn a team around, deliver on large scale goals and reshape the way things are done, history confirms that these points work.