Technology Innovation, Digital Transformation, & Leadership

Technology Innovation, Digital Transformation, Leadership

In almost all the companies that I have worked at, I have used technology innovation to create additional value. The process always involved getting on board colleagues and making them part of the change and incorporating their input to be advocates of the change rather than opponents.

For me what I did was just common sense and the pure result of proactiveness after observing and listening to colleagues. Still though today it has been coined digital transformation.

For me it was just using technology to help the company be more productive and efficient and make our work easier and provide better service to all stakeholders customers included.

Technology Innovation = Digital Transformation

Technology Innovation= Digital Transformation
Technology Innovation=Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is essentially a form of internal wide scale innovation using technology. Today’s companies in their ever-growing complexity depend more and more on data. To properly use data and find new ways to exploit it has become essential to survival and growth.

Data technology in whichever form it comes usually helps to improve information supply. With goof information and creativity, the limit is the sky. Companies can optimize and expand their horizon of possibilities.

I find it very much common sense:

  • The better our information, the better decisions we can take.
  • The timelier we get it, the faster we can plan toward taking advantage of it.
  • With better use of information the more competitive we become.
  • The more efficien and faster we become the better service we can give to all stakeholders including customers.

It cannot be denied that through human creativity, good information, and supporting systems companies can strife to realize new opportunities and prevent missing out on necessary changes.

Some beliefs about innovation and company-wide changes

Today company-wide changes such as digital transformation are often thought of as something requiring a top-down leadership mandate, but I believe that’s only part of the story. In my experience, digital transformation is something that can be driven from the ground up by individual employees who see an opportunity to use technology to create additional value for their company.

Change management and leadership

I am currently rereading the book “The Corporate Startup: How established companies can develop successful innovation ecosystems” by Tendayi Viki. This time I am reading it taking notes and summing up the chapters after reflecting on them.

The fact is that I find this book a good read for anyone involved in business today. I would also recommend reading the books by Ichak Adizes on corporate lifecycles since they will bring great insights into organizational change management. Nevertheless, both authors coincide in the element of leadership and its importance. Something with which I completely agree.

For real change, leadership is required. Sometimes of one style and others of another. It is not easy and thus different approaches need to be taken depending on the underlying situation. If this is not done, no lasting change can be established. Ichak Adizes in my version of the book which is already quite old has a set of very clarifying examples. I truly recommend reading any of his books here is a link to those on

Innovation change is hard

It is no walk in the park. Anyone who has tried to do it, knows it. The larger the corporation, usually the more complex its systems, the more people work in it, and the longer it has been operating. Due to this, such organizations require a systemic approach aiming at different variables within the company. Otherwise, no effective change is achieved. I would compare it, to creating a new habit at a large scale. It is not easy, takes longer than expected and requires discipline, perseverance and losts of two way communication.

Top-Down or Bottom-Up

When it comes to managing change within companies one often speaks of Top-Down versus Bottom-up. With digital transformation, it can be particularly challenging. Such transformation often changes many established processes, and with processes, it directly affects people at many layers within an organization.

Digital transformation within large corporations is like addressing a systemic complex problem. It requires changes at de institutions different levels, installing a new way of thinking, incorporating new skills, and creating new knowledge. It is in a way like creating a new habit for many people on a grand scale.

Evidently, if you have ever tried to change anything, you know it takes time, discipline and perseverance, and lots of communication. How do people react? Often with fear and reticence. This is very normal. Why? We all are animals of habit and do not like stepping out of our comfort zones, and large institutions are nothing but a very large group of people.

Given this fact one encounters some common beliefs:

  • Changes in large institutions require top-down approaches.
  • Such changes result from a crisis or trends which top management needs to be dealt with.

From my experience, I can state that this is partially true since I have also done it the other way round. In his book, Tendayi Viki describes it as guerrilla tactics. I would have never thought of it in this way but he is right. He is also right in that it is harder, much harder since it often fails. I vouch from my own experience that it is harder. Bottom-up requires a lot of maneuvering to get things done and convince people to join the movement to then slowly but steadily establish such changes.


Innovation and digital transformation are essentially implementing change within an established organization. It is difficult because you change processes, and the way people have worked within their established routines. Therefore it is hard, and requires a lot of leadership, diplomacy, communication, and perseverance to get people involved to make it happen.

It is complex and I will try to explain in future posts how I went about it so maybe it serves anyone in the same or similar situation.

Worth reading: Stop worshipping unicorns. Your firm can be entrepreneurial | London Business School

Excellent article on corporate entrepreneurship by Professor Gary Hamel and Anna Johnston.

Where they make a point about some of the fallacies that large companies are at a disadvantage to be entrepreneurial.

The article gives insight into Haier’s corporate structure and approach to make its employees effectifely act like they were their own start-ups.

Source: Stop worshipping unicorns. Your firm can be entrepreneurial | London Business School