Several years ago, I worked as a general manager of technology strategy at a large corporate. Like most organisations, the list of initiatives was huge. Every initiative justified its importance. And every initiative had demonstrated it had the resources and funding necessary.
I noticed that each initiative asked for the same handful of subject matter experts. I also noticed the same executives, myself included, were being asked to be part of governance committees for these initiatives.
At one point, the demands on my time became so much that I decided to apply the 80/20 principle. I only attended meetings where my input would make the most significant difference. Despite this measure, I was still sacrificing time with my team and my family, as there was a demand I could not meet. I found myself making quick decisions while having only some of the facts. I skimmed the material, often only reading the executive summary before making decisions. I was limiting my validation to a few phone calls and not waiting until I felt I could make an informed decision.
At the time, I was meant to work three days a week because the other two, I was looking after my children. In reality, I worked early mornings and late nights, and I hate to say I was replying to emails and talking to people on days when I was looking after the kids. I was working more than a full-time role and still felt like I was letting everyone down.
I decided to step away as I wanted to spend more time with my children and stop feeling the guilt that I was letting people down. I am not unique. Within any organisation, you will have people you rely on for many of the initiatives you have planned, as well as operational issues.
With digital, you will be on a journey to reduce your reliance on a handful of subject matter experts. You will look to empower people so leaders are no longer bottlenecks. Getting to a point where you no longer rely on these people takes time.
When you embark on your digital transformation, you will have these bottlenecks. If not addressed early, you will lose key people, detail your program, and impact your operations.
A critical risk when starting out with digital is the availability of subject matter experts and senior leaders. But in the excitement and desire to drive the program forward, executives adopt the happy path and convince the board that resources are available.