Digital transformation is not about technology or about a disruptive business model; it is about a mindset-shift in leaders’ thinking. Yet being so caught up in platform envy and coveting customer networks, rarely do leaders attribute fault to their own thinking.

For the most part, our thinking tends to run on the factory setting which — much like a washing machine — has been preset for specific programs and wash cycles. We tend to filter out much of what’s spinning around and focus on selecting only those things that serve our purpose. We tune out the data that overwhelms us in order to protect our brain and create mental shortcuts from the data we process.

The shortcuts we create in our thinking become the mental model for how we think and behave. For the most part they serve us well, and so, we trudge merrily along. We know our thinking is often biased and unreliable, potholed with blind spots and lopsided, but — much like a treasured security blanket — when our model of how things operate is threatened, we dig in doggedly to protect it, compelled to defend it at all costs. Disconfirming evidence is a bit like the bogeyman, we prefer to banish it from our thoughts.

The digital revolution is forcing leaders to think differently. Much like our digital devices, where we have to regularly upgrade the operating system, thriving in a digital age means leaders need to upgrade their thinking, and switch from the factory setting to a digital mindset. So how do you upgrade your operating system? In an environment where speed, efficiency and agility are fast becoming the price of admission, what approach is going to yield you the highest opportunity to get it right? As a starting point, this requires leaders to rethink how they deliver value to their customer. Every man and his dog seem to be searching for a disruptive business model aided and abetted by cool technology. However, no one ever created a disruptive business without first rethinking an alluring value proposition to inveigle customers. To do this, leaders need to be prepared to reimagine their business and challenge some of its underlying core assumptions. It requires thinking differently about your customers, value, strategy, data, leadership, innovation and culture.

We believe it starts with these 7 questions:

1. Have clarity on your competitive environment. What will drive value for your customers? How can you engage, empower and co-create with your customers?

2. Keep your eye on your data. How can you turn your data into an asset to generate business value for your strategic ambitions?

3. Be clear on the leadership requirements. What capabilities are absolutely necessary for leaders to be able to innovate in rapid ‘wash cycles’?

4. Consider the wash cycles. How can leaders be supported to fail, learn and adapt quickly to withstand the ‘spin cycle’ on change?

5. Adjust the settings. Most traditional leadership programs fail to deliver change. What is the most effective way to work with leaders on the change?

6. Know which leaders are your highest chances of success. Not all leaders will want to make the change or have the constitution. How do you determine the leaders that can change their wash cycle?

7. Develop a culture that embraces data and disruption. How do you create a culture that builds the mindset that includes using data and relentless questioning to disrupt current business models?

In our 2nd blog we’ll showcase a company that is rethinking digital technology to transform how they think about their customers, employees and business.

Both Marisa Paterson and Audrey McGuckin consult with top CEOs and HR Executives to solve their toughest and most complex talent and leadership challenges.

To connect with Marisa on how she can assist you as an Executive Coach or Leadership Specialist, message her directly at

To connect with Audrey on how she can assist you, visit our contact page or message her directly at