The secrets of today's successful digital leaders

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"Digital is no longer a backing vocal; it has moved centre stage to become part of the main act," said Mark Raskino, Gartner vice president and fellow. "To get yourself out of the chorus line you will have to remap your industry, or quickly adjust to a remapped industry, possibly several times, as different actors test and transgress the blurring boundaries.

"You will need to remodel your enterprise so that it can create and serve the new kinds of value demanded by customers in a digital world,” said Raskino, who tackled this challenge in the book Digital To The Core: Remastering Leadership For Your Industry, Your Enterprise, and Yourself.

Who do you need to be and how must you remake yourself to thrive as a leader in the digital era?


The book, co-authored with Graham Waller, research vice president at Gartner, was launched last week at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

Mark Raskino: You will have to remap your industry, or quickly adjust to a remapped industry, possibly several times, as different actors test and transgress the blurring boundaries.


Raskino noted the challenges ahead: “You will have to remake yourself as a leader, taking on new skills and new personas, and be prepared to engage new kinds of professionals and apply new thinking tools. Together, the three digital forces and three leadership levels create the framework for taking digital to the core of your business and leadership style."

"We see three critical forces at work that are coming from outside the organisation and penetrating right to the core of it," Raskino added. "We call the first, 'Resolution Revolution,' where the sensors in objects from cars to tennis rackets will see what's going on in the world around them in ever greater detail, revealing things we could never see or manage before.

The second, 'Compound Uncertainty,' compels leaders to probe the edges of the digital frontier to nudge regulatory, cultural and technology tipping points. Finally, the third disruptive force, 'Boundary Blurring,' forces industries to merge and morph into one another."

Graham Waller: The task is to commit to leading at three different levels: industry, enterprise and self.


1. Resolution Revolution: The effect of being able to see and sense what is happening in both the physical and digital worlds in ever greater fidelity and detail, then understanding and more precisely controlling things, events and outcomes.

2. Compound Uncertainty: The combined and complex effects of digital change that undermine and shift the mindsets, structures and practices on which leaders have previously relied. The key uncertainties are in three areas: technology, culture and regulation.

3. Boundary Blurring: The merging of digital and physical worlds, leading to alterations in the core products, propositions and possibilities for industries as we know them and softening the dividing lines between industries. The effect then cascades across ecosystems, enterprises, people and things.

"There is no simple strategic method for dealing with the multidimensional nature of digital change. Even the sharpest leaders can become disoriented as change builds on change, leaving almost nothing certain," said Waller. "Within the context of these three disruptive forces, the task is to commit to leading at three different levels: industry, enterprise and self."

The two said failure to lead at these three levels will cause leadership to be weak and temporary.

They list three questions to guide organisations building digital businesses:

Remap your industry: How must your worldview change and what fundamental industry paradigms must you rethink?

Remodel your enterprise: What does your enterprise need to become and how will you redefine your company?

Remake yourself: Who do you need to be and how must you remake yourself to thrive as a leader in the digital era?


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