This post is the second in our two-part series on digital transformation and evolution.

Our first post, “Deep Thoughts on Digital Transformation and Evolution” highlights the difference between digital transformation and digital evolution.

In their book, The Digital Helix (which I am currently reading), the authors (Gale, Aarons) posit a view that there is DNA in organizations which favors success. In Digital Evolution this gives us the means to thrive in any context.

The building blocks of successful organizational DNA are, in my view and that of my colleagues at CCC, Content, People, Process, and Technology. Indeed, we crafted a Digital Readiness Survey to help people understand how they fare in each one of these to inform where and how they might take action (you can take the survey here).

And what we discover is that the more successful the organization, the more in balance these four elements appear to be. That balance may be different per organization, as DNA is unique to individuals, but in every case, these are the key building blocks that make for success. A lack in one element or another, and success is not guaranteed.

I urge publishers to start thinking about their DNA and discern the right balance of these elements for their organization. I urge publishers to stop talking about a concept known as ‘transformation’, and to start focusing on the journey, to focus on evolution. The specific milestones or outcomes desired will be different in each company – as they should be – but the process for thriving is the same. We need to ask, continually, ‘where do we need to adapt, what do we need to do right now, what will we need to overcome?’

Get ready to evolve

And so, I leave you with four questions that all evolving organizations should be asking themselves:

1. What’s the right balance for your organization?

Think about the mix of content, people, process, technology. Do you need to pay more attention to your content – what you are commissioning? Or more attention to your people and how they are working? Where are you out of balance?

2. What challenges, what pain are you facing?

This calls for critical, even brutal honesty. There is no point making up a challenge you can address (“our systems are too old, we need new ones”) if that’s at the expense of the real challenge (“we need people to think differently about content and manage it differently”). Think about business pain – what would success look like? what obstacles are in the way of achieving that success? It could be technology, it could be ‘siloization’ of processes (‘throwing content over the wall’). Be honest.

3. How will you tackle them?

It’s rare that a challenge or a pain will be ‘fixed’ in one fell swoop with one part of the DNA: technology will not solve everything, neither will process change. Analyze the problem and match the portion of the DNA mix that needs addressing. Figure out how you need to tackle the problem – don’t be afraid to go back to basics and check your assumptions about what needs doing.

4. What needs to change right now?

Be tactical and strategic. Tactical: what are the quick wins that will deliver immediate benefit and keep people motivated? Strategic: what are the big themes leading to success. Think incremental change – fix the basics first, then add complexity and elegance to your solution. Making good choices about what should be first may require external expertise: don’t be afraid to have your assumptions challenged, indeed, embrace the debate!

“Transformation” is not achievable because no one knows what it means. journey is the important thing. Consider taking our Digital Readiness Assessment to see where you are on your journey. We need to keep moving forward, to keep balancing the four elements of the DNA, to keep evolving. My advice? Get started, take a step, favor what you are good at. Get ready to evolve. Once you start moving, start evolving, then your momentum will enable you to take bigger and better steps, will enable you to thrive.


Author: Carl Robinson

Carl Robinson has been in publishing since 1995 and has worked for Pearson Education, Macmillan Education and Oxford University Press. At CCC, Carl’s focus is upon helping clients look at business vision, goals and strategies around their content and tooling to enable flexibility and readiness to meet the ever-changing demands of the digital market.
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