5 Dysfunctions of Digital Transformation


If you like what you have read, we would love to continue the conversation.


Digital transformation is hard, but important. True digital transformation - one where organisations put their customers & digital at the centre of everything they do - is not just about infusing technology into the business, but evolving the organisation’s DNA.


Given the importance of succeeding with these initiatives, and inspired by the seminal management book The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni, we developed the 5 Dysfunctions of Digital Transformation to highlight signals which indicate if transformation may or might not be working in your organisation.  

The 5 Dysfunctions of Digital Transformation synthesises the positive and negative signals we have seen in dozens of businesses across 4 continents.  The signals are categorised into 5 key areas of dysfunction, which are designed to help transformation leaders pinpoint where they need to focus their energy, in order to materialise the desired change.

Reading the model:

  • Prioritisation of the areas of dysfunctions: The most fundamental potential dysfunction area is at the base of the triangle: Absence of Human Centric Culture. All the dysfunctions lead to overall apathy and fatigue with continued transformation at the top of the pyramid. In essence, the pyramid moves from 'root causes' at the base, to more visible outcomes at the top.

  • Scale of signals: The positive and negative signals within each area of dysfunction are ordered from top (least extreme) to bottom (most extreme). In organisations with a strong immune system against change, you will likely see more of the extreme signals.

  • Stage of change: The signals do not all appear at once, but emerge as organisations move through their journey.

  • Transformation chasm: We see the three initial dysfunctions (Lack of Human Centric Culture, Lack of Shared Vision & Resistance) as the root causes driving business inability to succeed with their transformations. If these can be successfully aligned, then, the organisation is much less likely to suffer from the negatives of the top two dysfunctions. Typically, organisations focus on the top two dysfunctions (especially Enablement Gaps) when analysing why they don't see success, forgoing the more difficult root-cause analysis required.

Get a sense check:

Taking the model, and highlighting the signals you see in your organisation, can provide a quick test as to why your transformation initiatives may or may not be working.   It can assist as a starting point for where to focus energy on resolving any roadblocks, or, capitalising on positive momentum.  

If you like what you have read, we'd love to continue the conversation.  Let's connect.