Digital Transformation: Controlling vs Inviting Conversation

By Eric Jackson

Post 1 of 10 in our weekly series on what we think won’t work for digital organizations and what will.

Digital transformation goes both ways — society and organizations are both undergoing radical change.

Here’s the thing. A single citizen (or customer) has more compute and communication power today than the entire organization did 10 years ago. Collectively, they have orders of magnitude more.

This transforms the communication dynamic whether we like it or not. Organizations must adapt. Controlling the conversation is no longer one of our options.

We can (and do) still try, of course. And sometimes it seems like we succeed. But that’s an illusion. The reality is either (a) nobody cares or (b) we have forced the real conversations underground.

And forcing the real conversation underground means we can no longer see or have any influence on it because we have lost the trust of the participants.

What does work is inviting citizens (or customers or stakeholders) into conversation. Inviting is the only way that we are in turn invited into the real conversations that otherwise take place without us.

Ironically, it turns out that we actually regain power this way. We have tremendous influence on the course and tone of the conversation through the way that we invite stakeholders into it. That is the digital organization’s alternative to controlling the conversation.

Why is “digital transformation” so important? Because it is about transforming our organizations to mirror the way that society has already gone. 10 years ago, information might take days to be widely understood. Today, Twitter gets the news out before the mainstream media even has it.

If we do not match our organizations with what is already going on in society at large, our organizations will fail. They may not fail today, they may not fail tomorrow, but they will fail.

This is a post in our weekly series on what we think won’t work for digital organizations and what will. Our original tweetstorm listed 10 things. This series takes a deeper dive on those ten things — one per week. If you’d like to come along for the ride, sign up for updates at right. Or, continue the conversation with @ejaxon or @_jfeldman.