How Federal Leaders Can Build the Will, Skill, and Velocity Needed for Digital Transformation

Sep 6, 2017

Learning—and practicing—five imperatives of network leadership can help agencies improve their odds for successful digital transformation.

Many organizations are undergoing digital transformation because the organizations see that it is necessary for long-term survival. However, digitally reinventing the organization is “one of the hardest journeys to make.” According to industry experts, two-thirds of organizations will fail at digital transformation. With these dismal odds, what can agency leaders do to improve their agency’s chances in successfully digitally transforming?

A close-up of three people viewing something on a laptop.

The first piece of advice is for leaders to learn how to lead through their networks. Agency leaders need to learn the five imperatives of network leadership:

  1. Create reach by cultivating network capital – Like political capital, executives need to build trust with members of their organization.
  2. Be transparent and communicative by working out loud – Periodically communicate what you are working on by sharing your work activities on the network.
  3. Engage on the network regularly by staying involved at multiple levels and channels – Networks thrive on two-way communication, so you need to not only post but respond to network members.
  4. Work through the network by orchestrating and co-creating – Leaders who build sufficient network capital will better work through the network by engaging the network members into co-creating the strategies and projects for digital transformation.
  5. Use the network to learn and then optimize – Leaders can use networks to gain the real perspective in the organization and to tap into the collective wisdom of the organization.

As agency leaders become more adept at network leadership, leaders can also help their agency employees master three personal traits to succeed in the new digitally-transformed agencies. The first trait is will—which is the employee’s desire to evolve and try new things. The second trait is skill—which not only means mastering the skills for the employee’s current job but, the skills that will be needed as their role evolves. The third and final trait is velocity—the higher pace at which the employee needs to move to keep up with the new digital reality.

Federal agencies are undergoing digital transformation to serve the American public better. Successfully digitally transforming agencies is imperative, and thus, agency leaders need to learn new ways of leading.

Each week, The Data Briefing showcases the latest federal data news and trends. Visit this blog every week to learn how data is transforming government and improving government services for the American people. If you have ideas for a topic or have questions about government data, please contact me via email_._

Dr. William Brantley is the Training Administrator for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Global Intellectual Property Academy. All opinions are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the USPTO or GSA.