Harvard Business Review: Why a digital expert shouldn't lead digital transformation

When it comes time to go all-in on digital, organizations would do better to appoint as leader of the transformation someone who is an expert in the company, rather than in digital strategy.

A new Harvard Business Review article describes the many struggles that digital experts run into when tasked with overhauling an organization's operations. Though seemingly the logical choice to head up such a crucial initiative, without experience working within those original operations, these digital pros will inevitably have trouble translating high-tech experience into actual success at a traditionally lower-tech company.

"Typically their downfall starts early, as soon as they start broadcasting their vision for the complete transformation of the company without listening carefully to how the business operates and the real needs of leaders and customers," according to HBR.

The solution? Tapping an established leader within the company to implement digital transformation in ways that, though inherently disruptive, fit smoothly into the existing organizational structure and company goals since, per HBR, "In the end, digital transformation is much about organizational change as much as it is about digital."

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