Organizations run the risk of being “inoculated” against the power of innovation if their early investments in technology or “digital transformation” fails to deliver business benefits. In fact, “Digital” is becoming a four-letter word in some companies.
One risk is if the initial digital “pilot” is over-hyped by its sponsors, possibly in an effort to get approval for the initiative if it’s a controversial topic. While it may seem justifiable to over-promise a little with the idea that “they’ll get excited when they see how close the team can get”, in fact this is a very dangerous stretch which risks killing the chance of future projects altogether. Better to continue to win hearts and minds to the vision using reasonable expectations than to stretch them unwisely.
Inoculation can occur even if expectations aren’t stretched though. In some organizations the skeptics may lie in wait for a pilot project to fail so they can pile on with criticism after the fact. When this happens it can become more difficult to get support for future projects than it was for the pilot!
The best approach for IT leaders seeking to build real momentum is to get the CEO fully on board with a new vision and envisioning the final destination. With the CEO convinced that the organization needs to “catch Digital fever”, the pilot project will be seen as patient zero of an epidemic outbreak, and not something simply being tested or attempted. It can be seen as a means to build excitement across the organization to strengthen their collective resolve to change their business model and go “infect the world”…!