A Mandate for a (Top-Down) Mandate

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This is a message for executives around the world - if you are one, read closely (or listen up), if you know one, share it with them.

Leadership roles in the digital age are changing. I have a LinkedIn Learning course on this topic, and if you have 40 minutes to watch - you should. But I understand if you don't have the the time to watch me talk for that long, so here's a short primer on some of the topics in the course.

1. There’s a new digital imperative for change.

First, unless you’ve been asleep under a rock, you know that there’s a new digital imperative for change. The option is not between less efficient or more, the option is now between survival or irrelevance. Every one of your competitors is using ‘digital’ to describe every aspirational change they can dream of, from how they generate ideas, develop new products, optimize operations, and delight customers. If you don’t have a plan that includes digitizing all of these, and in fact integrates all of them cohesively, you best get one.

2. You manage a lot of new things.

Second, you don’t just manage a company anymore, you manage a digital operations landscape. It’s not enough to understand your traditional resources including humans, financials, and IT. For decades, your organization has collected complexity and that complexity is scaling at an accelerating pace, leaving you on point to understand and orchestrate a large swathe of algorithms, automations, assets, and aspirations for even greater digital sorcery.

3. This is getting away from you!

Third, this is getting away from you. I guarantee it. At this very moment across your organization, in every nook, cranny, and crevice, there are inspired problem solvers making unilateral decisions on what to automate, how to automate it, and with which tools to do the automating. Despite being common, it should not be comforting. You’re codifying processes, calcifying convention, and creating further dissonance between what the company has and what it needs to compete. Do not automate your mess for less.

4. You need a top-down mandate

And finally, with all of that other stuff in mind, I implore you: seize the day and declare a bold and visionary top-down mandate. Take the reigns, corral the bottom-up, random acts of automation, choose champions, invest like you mean it, publicly declare your intention to create gobs of value, and give your company a fighting chance to stay relevant, nay, even lead in this new era of digital operations.

So there you have it. Leaders take heed. Aim true and get the heck on with it. Good luck.

2 minute read