The Digital Transformation Manifesto Tenets Define a Vision for the Organization of the Future
The DT Manifesto by the Institute for Digital Transformation clearly articulates the definition and spirit of digital transformation. It states: “Digital transformation should lead to metamorphic change among an organization’s products, services, systems, operations, and culture. The breadth and depth of that transformation is amplified by the innovative capabilities of digital technologies, but it is not digital capabilities alone that drive the transformative result.”[i]
But how do we bring about the level of transformation within an organization necessary to achieve metamorphic change?
The manifesto references eight tenets that organizations should adopt to realize sustained success in driving digital transformation. These tenets should be incorporated into the very core of an organization’s DNA and they serve as a north star to guide people towards a successful, sustainable digital enterprise. Over time, the tenets help to shift peoples’ ways of thinking and ways of working.
The Digital Transformation Manifesto tenets are[ii]:
- We proactively embrace change
- We have the agility to pivot quickly
- We create purpose-based value
- The customer and stakeholder experience are at our core
- Our decisions are driven by data
- We are reimagining business strategies and practices
- Our culture is one that empowers individual leadership
- Ethics are integral to our organization
As we can see, not one of the tenets is about technology directly, but rather they are “a collective of beliefs and guiding principles for an environment that can drive and sustain a transformative organization, supported by technology.”[iii] These tenets define for us a vision for the organization of the future and how it should behave.
Making the Digital Transformation Manifesto Tenets Real
The DT Manifesto tenets have a far-reaching impact across an organization and thus making them real requires intentional focus through multiple points of intervention. A few focal points to potentially rethink or revise to incorporate the tenets include:
- An organization’s business model and business architecture (and even the organization’s fundamental purpose), including the core of what value is delivered to whom, and how it is delivered through products and services and the supporting operations
- An organization’s strategy including where it chooses to play and how it plans to win
- An organization’s core values that guide the actions and thinking of individuals and form the foundation of culture
- Leadership behavior including how leaders communicate and serve as role models
- Culture and organizational change management including deliberate plans to reshape an organization’s culture and help individuals through the change curve towards a new desired state
- Decision-making criteria to provide the guardrails that will result in new outcomes
- Metrics frameworks to measure achievement of the tenets[iv]
- Experience design to design the interactions and cohesive experiences with customers, partners, and employees that delight and create advantage
- The design of the people, processes, and technology (framed by the organization’s overall business architecture) that execute operations and continually evolve the business through the strategy to execution life cycle
- The organization design including structures that empower individuals and align motivation mechanism with the organization’s purpose and values
How Business Architecture Can Help You Achieve the DT Manifesto Tenets
While many teams, disciplines, and frameworks can be leveraged to help institutionalize the DT Tenets, organizations that have a business architecture[v] and supporting internal practice are particularly well-prepared for the challenge. Having a business architecture that represents how an organization is structured to deliver on its value proposition and support its operations provides both a framework for organizational design as well as a mechanism to embed new ideas into the DNA of how that organization operates. Three examples are provided below.
An organization’s business architecture provides an agreed upon set of business blueprints that transcend business units, products, and geographies. This means that just as one would refer to a set of blueprints when making structural changes to a physical building, an organization’s business architecture offers a canvas for design and reimagination. For example, an organization’s business model can be assessed for opportunities to reimagine business practices and even the organization’s overall purpose. Journey maps provide a framework for evolving how experiences are designed and delivered to customers and stakeholders. Value streams and capabilities provide a macro level design lens to analyze, streamline, and reconfigure people, processes, and technology to ensure agility and the ability to pivot quickly. This agility is derived from both simplifying the business and technology environment as well as creating an effective capacity for end-to-end strategy to execution.
Business architecture also facilitates comprehensive business impact assessment. The business knowledgebase serves as a powerful what if tool where the butterfly effect of a decision can be comprehensively forecasted. For example, if a certain strategic decision is made, which business units, partners, customers, and stakeholders will be impacted? How will products/services and value delivery be impacted? Which systems or processes will need to change? Which planned or in-flight strategies or initiatives will be impacted? Are there any regulations or policies that need to be considered? In addition to strategic options assessment, the business knowledgebase is ideal to help inform change management plans. For example, the scope of business changes can be clearly articulated, as well as the collective impact on stakeholders.
Additionally, business architecture provides an enterprise framework to institutionalize new ways of thinking and working. If a business architecture is leveraged ubiquitously across an organization, it becomes an ongoing, shared point of reference. This means that it can become a sort of scaffolding that allows for key ideas to be inserted and even governed. For example, a set of considerations related to the transformation tenets could be aligned with the corresponding capabilities or other business focal points (e.g., customer experience tenet considerations may be aligned with customer-facing capabilities, value streams, and journeys). A checkpoint could even be created to ensure adherence to these considerations anytime the capability is being delivered as part of operations or enhanced as part of an initiative.
Moving Into Action
To move into action on these ideas, the first step is for the executive leadership team of an organization to fully understand, interact with, and determine how to adopt the Digital Transformation Manifesto tenets. Next, the journey of adoption can begin through intentional plans and interventions that will change the organization both concretely (e.g., by shifting the business model or products/services) and culturally.
To support this journey, determine if your organization already has a business architecture practice and understand its level of maturity. If a practice is in place, fully leverage it for these activities and continue to mature the practice over time. If a business architecture practice is not yet in place within your organization, there is no time like the present to establish one and it can be built just enough just in time to support your path to becoming a digital enterprise.
[i] “Digital Transformation Manifesto,” Institute for Digital Transformation, last visited 5 March 2023, https://www.institutefordigitaltransformation.org/digital-transformation-manifesto/.
[iv] Refer to the Metrics Framework from The Institute that is associated with the Digital Transformation Manifesto
[v] A business architecture is a multidimensional set of business views that describe an organization and the ecosystem in which it operates at a macro level. A business architecture is owned and driven by the business and may be used by anyone in an organization in support of decision making and a variety of business usage scenarios.
Whynde Kuehn is the Founder and Managing Director of S2E Transformation, helping organizations bridge the gap between strategy and execution, and achieve their greatest visions for business transformation in a practical and business-focused way. Whynde has extensive experience in enterprise transformation and planning and was a key player in architecting one of the largest digital business transformations in the world. She also led one of the largest business transformation and architecture consulting practices prior to starting S2E.
Whynde is a passionate advocate for using business architecture to enable effective strategy execution and digital transformation. She is a long-time business architecture practitioner, educator, author, recognized industry thought leader, and community builder, with extensive experience applying the discipline at leading Fortune 500 enterprises and a range of entrepreneurs, nonprofits and social initiatives. She is the Founder of Biz Arch Mastery, a dedicated online platform offering coaching and resources to simplify business architecture and facilitate its practical usage. She is also a Partner at Business Architecture Associates, Senior Consultant for Cutter Consortium, and a Co-Founder of the Business Architecture Guild.
Ray Sheen says
Those are some great insights Whynde. As I was reading this I thought about JFK airport in New York. I have used that airport for nearly 40 years and it is always under construction. It is constantly changing. The Manifesto tells us that our business will also be constantly changing. JFK has blueprints and an architecture. These guide the changes that are designed to improve its ability to serve customers safely and efficiently while responsibly interacting with the New York community and environment. A business architecture that is a living document can guide other organizations through their constant change to better serve their customers while being a good neighbor in their environment.