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How to Lead a Successful Digital Transformation


How to Lead a Successful Digital Transformation

John Sturdivant shares an article on juggling competing priorities in a digital transformation.

Building new tools in a digital transformation is fraught with hard choices for the CIO. Prioritization of projects is one of the hardest decisions because it involves many stakeholders, has no clear answer, and has huge implications for the business.

Large project backlogs build quickly thanks to competing priorities of various stakeholders, finite resources for development and engineering, and limits to project management capacity. In turn, this leads to a dilemma in prioritization and choosing which projects get the green light to move to engineering and implementation. In making these hard decisions, two things matter most:

  1. Making the optimal decision for the business, and
  2. Keeping all stakeholders happy (or at least ‘not upset’).

Managing this dual mandate is not about the CIO making the best decisions. Instead, it’s about NOT making certain key decisions at all. Let me explain.

The Situation

In our transformation journeys, we are often in the impossible-choice situation illustrated above:

We have several business units and stakeholders who all take great pride in what they do and all needing support from the digital operating tools we are building.

We’ve worked hard to build a development & engineering team that constantly improves our digital tools, but even they have limits.

Our digital leadership team burns shoeleather every day to work with our business stakeholders and understand their needs, but it’s impossible for them to make all prioritization decisions in the right context. Additionally, they have the burden of delivering the appropriate feedback to stakeholders to make them understand why their priorities may not get worked as soon as they hoped.

The end result is a growing backlog of digital projects and priorities to improve our business. We’ve found it takes seconds to turn on the idea light bulb, hours to fully detail it, days to build it, and weeks for stakeholders to wait for their high priorities to get delivered.


Key points include:

  • Dealing with Impossible-choice situations
  • Determining the true most-urgent-and-important priorities
  • Balancing the needs of many


Read the full article, To Lead a Digital Transformation, DON’T Make These Decisions, on LinkedIn.