Mastercard Masterclass: Priceless Lessons in Digital Transformation 

On Thursday I attended Digital Transformation Week and I heard from Tom Harris SVP, Digital Transformation Lead at Mastercard. Mastercard recently used their connection to 2,000 product owners and leaders to gather data into what success means for digital transformation. His insights on digital transformation were really interesting, some might say priceless😉, so in this blog I discuss what I learnt and how you can apply it.

With 75% of digital transformations failing, Mastercard asked why do you think digital transformations fail. The responses highlighted three indicators:

  1. Not prioritising effectively
  2. Not making decisions effectively
  3. A lack of transparency

66% of the leaders surveyed thought they understood the problems influencing success, however only 33% of those managing the products agreed. Tom called this the empathy gap and explained that if you don’t know what the problem is, how can you help to solve it?

# Digital Transformation Tip 1: Define what you are trying to achieve.

Tom’s advice was to define target outcomes that relevant to both individuals, which drives behaviour and the organisation, which drives the culture. He reminded us that culture is built from the bottom up, through action and consequence, not from the top down. At Nine Feet Tall we echo this. We ask, and help shape an understanding of targeted shift in culture as well as the vision for change.

# Digital Transformation Tip 2: Ask how will technology enable people.

Tom advised to focus on efficiency and creating value. He explained how at Mastercard, data driven incremental changes that address known pain points have been the best way for them to make impact at speed. He recommended understanding your boundaries, starting small, experimenting but then scaling quickly.

When we at Nine Feet Tall support clients, at the beginning of an engagement we ask for lots of data and information. Understanding the extent to which the implementation will change the ways of working for users, often through a change impact assessment, enables prioritisation of those features, and as such communication, that improve users experiences.

# Digital Transformation Tip 3: Always ask, “do you need help?”

Tom encouraged use of external parties to help “speak truth to power”, advocating for voices who may not otherwise be heard. Another way external support may be beneficial is in coaching to remove the good news culture. Tom called this a muscle that leadership often need help building.

# Digital Transformation Tip 4: Change is positive, uncertainty isn’t.

Alongside removing the good news culture, Tom explained the power of setting expectations at both an individual and organisational or leadership level, “Pivoting is not failure… progress is not linear”. Through empathy (listening and seeking to understand,) compassion (empathy with action,) and outcomes (measurement and objectivity,) digital transformation through behaviour change is possible. He quipped that if behaviour change was easy, however, the multi-billion pound marketing industry wouldn’t exist.

# Digital Transformation Tip 5: Culture + consequence + commitment = change. 

Mastercard have been progressively moving from a “what” to a “what and how” culture to recognise that this equitable focus on values and behaviours will deliver the results. Consequences don’t have to be severe, but without managing resistance change won’t happen, “if you don’t have all your people on the journey you won’t get to the destination.” To address the common barriers to change, Mastercard have made time and space. At Mastercard change initiatives are funded, progress has metrics and is reported on and all initiatives need a roadmap (addressing the need for strategic alignment and clarity in the ongoing benefits.)

I found so many synergies between Tom’s talk and our approach to digital transformation at Nine Feet Tall. If you’d like more information on how to succeed in your digital transformation journey, get in touch with us today. 

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