Start making small changes towards digital business transformation

Over the past ten years I have been running workshops for large and small companies in many industries including retail, banking, telecoms and education. I’ve seen a change from a general interest in learning more about the possible impacts and opportunities of digital technologies to an urgency to transform businesses in the face of what now appears to be inevitable disruption.

At Hyper Island we build our workshops around giving participants tools and confidence to affect change. We encourage hands-on exploration of emerging technologies such as machine learning, send participants out to interview real consumers and show them the sometimes murky world of data collection and targeting. 

It is an amazingly satisfying job.  A company sends a team of staff for three days. They come expecting to be told what to do and instead are pushed to explore complex and often uncomfortable ideas for themselves; building and pitching prototypes, exploring adjacent industries, thinking like startups or like Google, visualising data and reflecting on change.

I’ve designed tools and formats to support many of these sessions including canvases and case studies.  And recently I have focused on card decks that can be taken away and used back in the workplace with their own teams.

I’m particularly excited by my latest deck which helps teams explore small actions that they can take to start transformation. I’ve assembled 52 ideas for action and associated them with solving the problems and frustrations we all face in coping with digital change.

In workshops we start by exploring these problems (the front of the cards).  I ask a group to share a pack and to individually select 5-6 problems they are grappling with: from too many meetings and poor communication to projects lasting too long and bureaucratic processes. 

Then together with the rest of the group I ask them to prioritise the biggest shared problems they face. These conversations can be highly revealing and they are encouraged to think about their own solutions before turning the cards over for my suggestions.

I designed the deck to stimulate these discussions and to show people the wide range of things that they can actually start doing.  I chose cards as a format because they can be shuffled, sorted and shared.

There are many other sorts of workshops that can be supported by the same cards.  An individual could draw 5 cards at random from the deck and then decide which of the 5 actions would generate most benefit for their team and draw up a plan to start this action.

I’ve divided the cards into 4 suits, different colours, representing learning, making, accelerating and experimenting.  These correspond to 4 different behaviours that seem central to effective transformation. Another option is to work with cards of only one colour to choose the most important actions for your team.

I’m pleased with this latest deck and thankful to my friend Tan Wei Tze for helping me again make them look and feel professional.  They have already been used in prototype form in workshops across the region and a Japanese translation is on its way.  I hope others find them useful for years to come.

Digital Action Cards: Starting Points for Business Transformation are available directly from me.

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