Going digital is about reinventing business models, redefining industries, and improving the customer experience to stay ahead of the game and ensure future growth. Digital-savvy organizations challenge the status quo, love experimenting, are not afraid to fail fast, learn from mistakes, move on quickly, and constantly push the ambition level further. While this might sound familiar, many organizations struggle to move beyond the rhetoric and convert acknowledgement into action. McKinsey estimates that 70 percent of change programs fail to achieve their goals, primarily due to employee resistance and lack of management support.\nDecomposing the ingredients and making change happen\nBroadly speaking, there are three major variables in this equation: strategy, technology, and culture. While much attention is typically given to strategy and technology, all too often little is devoted to the cultural part. The discussion tends to be focused upon where and how to play, and the technologies needed to facilitate the corporate agenda. While none of that is wrong per se, it\u2019s important to keep in mind that the cultural transformation is an equally critical success factor. When putting all three components together, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.\nBusiness leaders should therefore question themselves as to what extent their digital battle plan goes beyond implementing technology. Or, as Dr. David Bray, CIO of the U.S. Federal Communication Commission, put it, \u201cAt the end of the day, when we talk about technology change\u00a0\u2014 whether it\u2019s the Internet of Everything, big data, or machine learning\u00a0\u2014 it\u2019s really about people and organizational cultures delivering results differently and better using these technologies. We need to begin with a people-centered focus since any technology change will both trigger and require transforming group, organizational, and social cultures.\u201d\nWhat it takes to become a digital champion\nTo get moving, leaders should \u201cstart with why,\u201d says Dr. Daniel Cable, professor and chair, organizational behavior, at London Business School.\u00a0\u201cLet people understand the reasons for the change, and make sure they have a clear picture of what will improve when they get there.\u201d\nHowever, thriving digital organizations do more than simply formulate a bold vision. Besides describing the desired future state and creating a roadmap, they put great effort into fostering a culture of change to spur creativity and innovation. Similar to professional athletes, music artists or scientists, digital-savvy organizations continuously progress on the learning curve, deem failure as a prerequisite for success, and have the courage to keep going. Unlike the typical corporate world, they simply accept that setbacks are a part of life and almost always an inherent part of a given success story.\nThese organizations invest in new capabilities and develop the skills to gain agility and keep up in a highly dynamic, quickly changing environment. They attract, nurture and retain talent, and minimize the risks of losing it. They also embrace diversity and intense collaboration, and see the value that lies in interdisciplinary teams with a rich set of different backgrounds and experiences.\nWhen aiming to become a flourishing digital player, small steps within the known territory will only get you so far. To come up with a revolutionary idea that has the potential to be literally the next big thing, people have to experiment and try something new. And evidently, not each and every experiment is necessarily a success; in fact, only a few will be. It\u2019s all about daring to do something extraordinary and moving beyond the comfort zone without blame or finger-pointing. Organizations that do not understand the fundamentally changing paradigms are very likely to fail.\nThe transformation journey: A four-step approach\nThere is an array of different change management concepts and frameworks in literature, with each of them having different pros and cons. However, what almost all of them have in common, and what it ultimately boils down to, are the following four basic steps:\nTable 1: A four-step approach toward change\n\nMaking change happen: From conceptualizing to implementing\n\nWhile this four-step approach is obviously just a snapshot, it provides a rough idea that helps come up with a more holistic and sophisticated game plan along the categories listed.\nThe role of the leader\nThe leader takes over stewardship for the transformation journey, which means communicating the vision, mission and roadmap, assembling the team of change agents, championing the initiative and ensuring progression. This includes setting an ambition level, openly addressing obstacles ahead and coaching the team how to overcome them by giving guidance, exuding positive energy, and staying connected to capture the hearts and minds of the employees.\nTo achieve this, the sharing of success stories\u00a0\u2014 especially early on in the journey\u00a0\u2014 has proven to be a powerful instrument that creates pride and a sense of purpose, and boosts confidence across the organization. Professor Cable adds, \u201cLeaders should also ensure emotions are being aligned with the cognitions.\u00a0People have to both understand the problem rationally and care about it emotionally.\u201d\nCircling back to Dr. Bray, he highlights that \u201ceffective leaders will listen, learn and help craft shared goals and shared narratives to bring diverse groups of people together.\u201d According to him, the best leaders provide change agents with:\n\nAutonomy to bring their ideas to fruition\nMeasurable progress updates\nA worthy cause that adds value for the business or mission of an organization\n\nThese three steps are crucial to ensure that the leader is not alone striving to encourage the organization to keep pace with digital transformation. Championing positive change agents across the organization represents a critical step to operate at scale.\nBecoming a thriving digital organization is a huge effort, but it can be incredibly rewarding. It not only paves the way into a new bright era of technological advances, but also entails a set of tangible benefits that come along. PwC has just published a study after surveying 2,216 executives across 53 countries. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the respondents listed increased revenue as a top benefit of their digital strategy, followed by growing profits (47%) and lower costs (40%).\nWhile there is certainly no such thing as an automatism for success, working along the playbook outlined above can increase the odds. It\u2019s time to get moving, and as Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."