The Lean Digital Transformation

Can digital transformation be accelerated by rapid and continual iterations of building, measuring and learning?

Taken from Eric Ries’ popular book the Lean Startup, the build-measure-learn loop exists to ensure that the end product is a good fit for the market.

Ideas are quickly built into the minimum viable product (typically a prototype). Feedback on this product is gathered to produce data and insight that the business can learn from. Lessons learnt are then fed into the development of ideas and the cycle continues to create the an end product that is right for the market.

Essentially ideas and feedback gradually evolve into the ideal product.

Lean Digital Transformation cycle

Advantages of using this approach to drive forward digital transformation include:

  • The transformation evolves to exactly match business needs
  • There is perceivable momentum of change and improvement
  • Technology change does not accelerate past business change
  • Provides proof for the business case
  • Maintains stakeholder buy in during the measure phases
  • Initial capital requirements should be minimal and then scale to match the success of each build phase
  • Potential for later builds may become self-financing

However, caution should be taken in a full implementation of this approach as there are situations when the model may not fit:

  • When replacing a live or existing business system that requires a minimum level of capability to serve customers
  • Where funding and business strategy are set at a specific period and a clear goal is required
  • Where business requirements are clear and can be implemented
  • When off the shelf software is available with minimal configuration and setup time (although roll-out of these products could follow the build-measure-learn loop)

Certainly build-measure-learn favours the development of new, digitally enabled channels and business models.

Transformation led from digital efficiency and the improvement to existing channels may require a more traditional waterfall approach to transformation. As replacing an existing channel or tool with the minimum viable product could be disastrous to operations.

Despite these warnings, continual measurement of user feedback to guide the next product version is an absolute must for tracking progress against the aims of digital transformation.

The question to really ask is how can we move digital transformation forward at the fastest pace?

For more on this you can read my last post on Accelerating Digital Transformation.

David Sealey is a trusted adviser to senior executives on getting the most from their investment in digital and data. David created Storm81 as a place to share his passion for business, digital technologies, multichannel marketing and everything else around these topics.

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