Private Sector Digital Transformation: Step #5 - Spread.

by Chris Futcher


In our previous discussions, we've navigated through the initial four stages of the "5S Framework for Digital Transformation," tailored specifically for CEOs, Senior Business Leaders, CIOs and CTOs in the UK's private sector.

  • #1 Span: Building meaningful connections and gathering actionable insights.
  • #2 Show: Identifying and overcoming barriers to transformation.
  • #3 Solutions: Iteratively developing digital solutions led by business needs.
  • #4 Support: Leveraging success stories to secure additional resources and buy-in.

Now, let's delve into the final and perhaps most crucial stage: "Spread."


The essence of "Spread".

Having successfully navigated the initial stages, you've built a robust foundation for digital transformation. You've engaged stakeholders, identified barriers, initiated projects, and even secured additional resources. Now, it's time to take these isolated successes and spread them across the organisation to create a holistic, digitally mature enterprise.

In "Spread," the focus shifts from individual projects and departments to the organisation as a whole. It's about taking the best practices, solutions, and successes you've achieved and scaling them. This is the stage where you move from transformation as a project to transformation as a culture.

Stay tuned as we explore how to effectively "Spread" digital transformation across your organisation, ensuring that the changes are not just impactful but also sustainable.


The objective of "Spread".

The ultimate goal of this phase is to ensure that the digital transformation is not just a project but becomes the new normal. The aim is to embed new ways of working, data-driven decision-making, and customer-centric processes throughout the entire organisation. By the end of this framework, your organisation should be digitally mature and capable of sustaining continuous digital change without the need for a separate transformation programme.


The target operating model.

Achieving this state requires a shift in your operating model. The ideal environment for a digitally mature organisation is one that:

  1. Maintains an outward-facing viewpoint: Continuously adapts to external digital changes efficiently and rapidly, turning both threats and opportunities into actionable strategies.
  2. Fosters efficient collaboration: Leverages the connections and partnerships established in the "Span" phase to continue delivering impactful digital changes aligned with the organisation's mission, goals, and values.


Organisational design for success.

Reaching this target operating model is no small feat. It demands a radical shift from a top-down hierarchical structure to a more flattened, bottom-up, empowered organisational design. This new design should be agile enough to support rapid digital changes.

At its essence, digital transformation is about enabling innovation and change to emanate from every corner of the organisation. This is particularly crucial for customer-facing teams, who have first-hand knowledge of customer needs and preferences. Imagine flipping your entire business model so that internal operations are directly influenced by the external demands of the market sectors in which you operate.


How to Spread.



The iterative approach to spreading change.

Transforming the entire operational fabric of your organisation is not an overnight task. Attempting to enforce this monumental change through policy and mandate alone is a recipe for failure. The key is to adopt the same iterative approach that proved successful in the "Solutions" and "Support" phases.

Start small, focusing on specific teams and customer segments. Learn what works and what needs refinement as you go along. This iterative approach allows you to make data-driven decisions, adapt quickly, and scale effectively.


Hands-on implementation

This isn't a task that can be accomplished by merely sending out emails or directing teams to intranet resources. The most effective way to spread new ways of working is through hands-on, face-to-face interactions.

Consider embedding members from the original cross-functional teams into new business units or departments. These individuals can share the skills and insights they've gained throughout the transformation journey. They can also monitor the adoption of digital practices and provide additional support when needed.


Scaling the cross-functional model.

The aim is to scale the cross-functional model that was so effective in the "Solutions" phase. This involves rapid, iterative prototyping and a feedback-driven approach to developing solutions. It's about taking what worked in a small, controlled environment and scaling it to the broader organisation.


Investment in key enablers.

Finally, it's crucial to invest in platforms, people, and processes—the three pillars that enable digital maturity. Whether it's upgrading your technology stack, upskilling your workforce, or streamlining your processes, these investments are essential for the long-term sustainability of your digital transformation.

The "Spread" phase is about taking the best practices, tools, and methodologies that have been proven to work and scaling them across the organisation. It's about making digital transformation part of your organisational DNA.


How to spread innovation.



The challenge of spreading innovation.

Spreading innovation throughout an organisation is akin to turning an oil tanker, not a speedboat. It requires time, patience, and the willingness to pivot when things aren't going as planned. Here are some effective strategies to help you navigate this complex task:


Digital support systems and rewards.

To truly embed a culture of innovation, employees need to know that they are expected to be active participants in this new landscape. While it may not have been everyone's job to identify digital opportunities in the past, it certainly is now.


Idea generation platforms.

A robust system for raising and evaluating new ideas is crucial. If you've relied on manual processes, now is the time to upgrade. Consider developing a user-friendly platform, perhaps using SharePoint, where employees can submit their ideas and the potential benefits. This platform should be supported by well-defined processes that address common questions and challenges, such as:

  • How to find and engage with developers and designers
  • Access to training on Agile and other methodologies like Design Thinking
  • Guidelines for customer engagement for testing and feedback
  • Procedures for procuring external support, such as consultancies

Reward systems.

However, a platform alone won't suffice. Employees who actively seek out and drive digital change should be rewarded, and these rewards should be highly visible across the organisation. The type of rewards that work best will vary from one organisation to another but could range from financial incentives to career advancement opportunities.


Revisiting KPIs.

Now is also an opportune time to revisit the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that were recommended in the "Show" phase. As you spread digital transformation and new ways of working throughout the organisation, it's crucial to embed real accountability for digital advancement. This is a medium to long-term initiative that will require concerted effort but will pay dividends in fostering a culture of continuous innovation.

The "Spread" phase is not just about scaling successful projects but also about embedding a culture of innovation and accountability throughout the organisation. It's about making every employee an active participant in the digital future of your business.


Transformation goals.



The importance of clear transformation goals.

Your transformation goals, set out in the initial "Span" phase, are the linchpin of your entire digital journey. Whether you have two or fifteen, these goals must be crystal clear and universally understood across the organisation. Every digital initiative should align with at least one of these goals, creating a mission-driven organisation—a force to be reckoned with in today's competitive landscape.

However, it's crucial to roll these goals out iteratively as you expand digital transformation to new departments and teams. Sharing these goals with areas of the business not yet involved in the transformation could backfire, appearing as nothing more than poor internal marketing.


The final milestone.

By following the 5S framework, you've not only adopted new technologies but also gained a competitive edge. Your organisation is now better equipped to thrive in the digital age, delivering enhanced customer experiences through modernised products and services. And this isn't a one-off achievement; it's a continuous, organisation-wide effort.

Once you've successfully engaged the entire business in this transformation, your journey should, theoretically, be complete. But remember, digital transformation is an ongoing process, not a destination. The 5S framework isn't just a roadmap; it's a critical tool that will continue to shape your organisation's success story.

In summary, the "Spread" phase is the culmination of your digital transformation journey, where your organisation-wide goals and the 5S framework come together to create a digitally mature, mission-led organisation. It's the final push towards making digital transformation a part of your organisation's DNA.


Let's discuss your digital challenges.

Whether you face hurdles in changing organisational culture, delivering value, or adapting to external changes, we're here to assist you. The 5S framework has been designed based on real-world experience and has proven to be a significant step towards understanding how to achieve digital transformation effectively.

Thank you for following this series. We hope the insights and tools discussed have been valuable to you. Feel free to reach out to us with your digital challenges; we're here to help.