Digital Transformation Requires Readiness
Semper Paratus is a Latin phrase, meaning “Always ready.” It is used as the official motto of the United States Coast Guard, the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (Wentworth Regiment) of the Canadian Army, the U.S. Army 16th Infantry Regiment, and the Long Beach (California) Fire Department.
What do these organizations have in common? They all face ever-changing threats. And more importantly, they are continually implementing new procedures and technology to stay ready to meet those threats. Threats and challenges are not static, and these organizations need to always be ready by continually adapting as situations and technology changes. Indeed, one of the major units of the Coast Guard is the Force Readiness Command and their Doctrine is, “The Service has built its reputation on being ‘Always Ready’ to meet any maritime challenge by successfully and repeatedly adapting to the situation at hand.” Their customers are very visible, and their needs are clear – if the Coast Guard fails, lives could be lost. They work from the needs of the customer backwards to develop the services that keep us safe.
This is the true essence of digital transformation – not the implementation of mere technology to automate core services, but the shift in power to the customer and the need to continually adapt technologies, processes, and culture. That requires continuous “Readiness” to adapt to dynamic customer needs and ever-changing technology to meet those needs.
What is Readiness?
Organizations can well take the advice of Coast Guard doctrine:
“Continuous pursuit of proficiency assures us that we will be able to maintain our operational edge as our organization undergoes continuous change while sustaining a broad range of operations and support activities across a diverse array of missions. Becoming proficient is not an end state, but rather a continual journey towards mastering a specialty.”
At the Institute we stress Operational Sustainability – the ability to always have the right amount of process, improve or change process where needed, and the ability to operate those processes in an organizationally seamless way across the enterprise. Being ready is not an end-state, but a continual journey.
“Guardsmen exercise initiative in a disciplined way—after considering policy and doctrine, weighing risks, and applying experience-based prudent judgment, they reach the best decision given the circumstances. They then act accordingly, knowing that judgment calls in difficult circumstances may deviate from doctrine when the risk is warranted.” “Leaders also exhibit courage—standing up for their people, taking risks when prudence dictates, and doing the right thing no matter the personal cost.”
This the essence of what we at the Institute call Organizational Agility and Strategic Agility. The organization and its people act together to accomplish mission but have the freedom to adjust if the circumstances present themselves. An organization is free to practice “intelligent disobedience” to adjust to the ever-changing customer and digital landscape.
“Leaders do not control their subordinates’ every action. Instead, they make sure subordinates fully understand the standards and expectations and how to meet them in a climate of mutual trust.”
Digital Transformation Readiness requires a disruptive culture – a culture that has the freedom to take measured risk with the trust of leadership. This feeds the agility to adapt and innovate. The culture must permit continual disruption in every facet of the organization, including: technology, business models, industry dynamics, offshoring and outsourcing strategies, regulatory management, etc. They must also, however, possess the discernment to only execute disruptive change that results in competitive advantage.
The Never-Ending Digital Journey
The true essence of digital transformation is not merely implementing digital technologies or automating core services in new and innovative ways. Digital transformation is the shift in power to the customer, the use of technology to understand and meet their needs, and the agility to always adapt. There will always be the next great digital solution – focusing on technology is thus short-sighted.
This is a never-ending digital transformation journey and you must always be ready for new and unforeseen opportunities and threats. Like the Coast Guard, organizations need to be Semper Paratus – “Always Ready” to take on those ever-changing digital challenges.
About the Author:
Dr. Frank Granito is Partner, Institute Fellow, and Chief Scientist at the Institute for Digital Transformation. He has over 35 years of experience in the Information Technology field and also is Founder and CEO of Granito & Associates. In his role as Chief Scientist, Dr. Granito has designed the evaluation tools and analytics for the Digital Readiness Framework to assist organizations as they transition and adapt to the Digital Age. Dr. Granito holds a Doctor of Management from the University of Maryland University College and his work in Organizational Culture resulted in a Culture Model and Assessment Instrument tailored to IT Service Management implementations. He has successfully implemented IT Service Management transformation solutions for Government and Commercial clients. He is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland University College Graduate School in the Masters of Project Management Program and is an Authorized Training Partner for ITIL and PMBOK.