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A "piloted" transformation journey

The threat of disruption and digital transformation pressure has been plied on industries, organisations, and executives everywhere, for some time, relentlessly.  I imagine that for many, it’s exasperating - particularly for those that can’t make progress and shift towards better operational models, and/or evolve customer experiences, fast enough.  There are many reasons why change is hard, too many for me to list here. Instead, I’m going to offer some simple advice which I hope will prove valuable.  

Here's a strategy to avoid the proverbial "moon shot" and the paralysis that often accompanies overzealousness.  Prioritise the initiatives that are best suited for a successful pilot programme first, and use test outcomes to build momentum and confirm strategic assumptions.  By qualifying what initiatives are good candidates for pilot success, you’ll increase the odds of making incremental progress towards a transformation goal with confidence and pace.

So what makes an initiative or innovation a good candidate for a successful pilot project?  

Well for starters, it must be operationally/technically feasible, and manageable on a small scale to keep project costs and timeframes in check.  If it can’t be operated in an isolation state (e.g. a testing environment) it’s probably unsuitable.  Secondly, the value proposition must be able to be clearly defined (i.e. it solves a real customer problem, obvious cost saving, strong strategic alignment, supports brand principles), and associated success criteria measurable, in order to determine the results of the pilot.  Thirdly, it should never feel static.  A good pilot project can be retooled, refined, adapted and iterated.  And finally, the pathway for scaling should be clear.  If an initiative presents an uptake challenge for business units, or has significant cost implications to scale up, it might not a good pilot candidate.   

Failure to execute a pilot project can be a setback, so put in the effort to evaluate and choose wisely.  When you get it right your pilot may be instrumental for developing better ways of working and service improvements for your organisation.

Such is the rapid pace of digital change that transformation fatigue can set in as business leaders become bewildered or disinterested. But the report warns this is dangerous. On average, industries are still less than 40 percent digitised, meaning even more radical disruptions are inevitable.

More posts by Chris Skilton

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