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Digital Transformation Part 1: What Are We Transforming Into? – Defining The North Star Of Digital Transformation

In the first part of the digital transformation series, we aim to bridge the widening gap between digital transformation ambition and execution thereby making this jargon-heavy world a bit more real and tangible.

The key challenge we wanted to address is why only 30% of the organizations feel that they have been successful at digital transformation, despite talking about it for almost a decade? 

One common challenge we noticed across different levels of maturity is that organizations were rarely able to articulate their goals and objectives for undergoing transformation clearly. Probably rightfully so because digital transformation is such a vast and all-encompassing subject that more often than not, it remains a fuzzy, vague idea that is difficult to encapsulate into a tangible outcome.

Digital Transformation is neither a sprint nor a marathon – it is a triathlon!

There’s no such thing as completing a digital transformation. It’s a discipline that’s embedded in your culture – alive and evolving.

Ultimately that is what continuous improvement is about. When speaking about the process of transformation, transformation leaders need to remember that the goal is to learn in the different legs of the journey and not to reach the proverbial finish line. 

Winning behaviour combines 3 interconnected elements – the Head, Heart Hands framework

How do 30% organizations succeed while others don’t seem to be able surmount the odds? What do they do differently and consistently that can help us increase our chances of success by as much as 80%? 

According to a study by BCG winning behaviour is characterized by three key elements working together – the Head, the Heart and the Hands of an organization. (exhibit 1)

  • The Head determines our north star. It tells us what we are doing and why it will ultimately be important to us. It defines our goals and reasoning behind it, it ensures every other part of the organisation is onboard with the plan.
  • The Heart cares for us when we work towards our goal. It tells whether we have the right talent in place, whether our employees are equipped and empowered with the right culture, knowledge and toolkits to get the everyday job done. In short, It keeps us going when the going gets tough.
  • The Hand gets the job done. It tells us when we have been successful and when we have not, what we could have done better, it is crucial for the accomplishment of that plan the head built.

Exhibit 1 


96% of organizations that fully engaged the Head, Heart and Hand achieved sustained performance improvement!

Make purposeful vision statements – avoid jargons, prioritize mindfully, create momentum 

As we delved into the role of the Head (exhibit 2), the one key message we were focussed on was that to make transformation real and tangible, one must begin by defining clear goals in simple, straightforward language.

Exhibit 2


Measure what matters, find your North Star – too many metrics spoil the broth!

To be able to measure success in various initiatives of Digital Transformation, it is crucial to identify your North Star metric. What is a good North Star metric? It must be simple, actionable and anchored on business outcomes.

When you know where you are & where you want to go the path becomes clearer

Ultimately it is important for organizations especially senior leaders to be cognizant of the big picture, actively zoom out and figure out the architecture of the transformation you need to go through to achieve what you want. 

Lack of a clear roadmap is one of the key challenges nascent companies face and that is exactly why it is critical to nail that blueprint right in the beginning – be it a maturity model or a strategy roadmap – everything follows that path and milestones thereafter.

Check out part two of our digital transformation series.

Reach out to Merkle Singapore at [email protected] to discover how we can aid in your digital transformation. 


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