The majority of digital transformation initiatives for the supply chain fail because businesses engage in "tribal" behavior, according to a new book by Klaus Imping, CEO of mSE PointOut Group, and Michael Ciatto, Supply Chain Service Line CEO and Senior Vice President at Genpact.
Imping and Ciatto’s book, Tribal F*cks up Digital: Discover the Blind Spots That Sabotage Digital Adoption and Derail Your Business Process, lays out the pitfalls that companies encounter when they fall into the habit of “tribal” behavior. Ciatto defines the word as describing “bespoke systems and processes” that are highly dependent on individuals and, therefore, not well-documented or easy to be systematized.
Around 70% of digital initiatives fail to achieve their objectives, Klaus says, and the culprit is tribal behavior. Many companies start in the wrong place, with a technology-centric approach and a mindset of system implementation. “You can’t just implement a system and expect transformation,” he says. “It needs to be approached from a business and process angle. Technology is just a means to an end.”
Tribal behavior is, of course, a part of human nature, and can’t be entirely eliminated from the organization. But it can be put to better use, if companies adopt a coordinated approach that orchestrates all of the people needed to get the job done, determine precisely how new processes should flow, then “make this the new habit of how people work,” Ciatto says.
A proper approach to workflows is necessary. Imping says companies need to appoint a “blended” team that starts with top management setting the vision, then filters down throughout the organization to execute the initiative.
“To transform workflows, you need multiple business functions to be aligned,” Ciatto says. “If that’s not a strategic objective, then you will end up failing.”
Imping and Ciatto caution against reliance on a traditional system integrator, whose efforts are by nature “technology- and tool-centric,” instead of the broader approach that’s required for success.
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