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Daily Disruption

The First Law of Digital Transformation

Similar to the way Moore’s Law predicted the pace of change in computing performance, digital transformation can be observed under its own guiding law. So says one of the most respected luminaries when it comes to business and digital transformation, George Westerman. A senior lecturer with the MIT Sloan School of Management and coauthor of Leading Digital: Turning Technology Into Business Transformation, Westerman says that digital innovation within the enterprise is invariably ruled by what he calls the ‘First Law of Digital Transformation:’

Technology changes quickly, but organizations change much more slowly.

Like Moore’s law, its beauty is in its simplicity and universal applicability. Westerman says that it is a truth that “that too many people forget” as they barrel forward with ambitious digital transformation projects:

This law is the reason that digital transformation is more of a leadership challenge than a technical one. Large organizations are far more complex to manage and change than technologies. They have more moving parts, and those parts, being human, are much harder to control. Technology systems largely act according to their instructions, and technology components largely do what they are designed to do. But human systems are very different. While it’s relatively straightforward to edit a software component or replace one element with another, it’s nowhere near as easy to change an organization.

 

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