Government executives: On being 21st century digital leaders


Every government executive I know serves an organization that is in a constant state of transformation. And they are all looking for journey-focused guidance on how to succeed.  I started this blog to open a dialog on their challenges.

So let me begin by describing what I see as the most fundamental challenge. Most organizations (even in the commercial sector) have wandered into the 21st century with a 20th century structure. When it comes to government, most executives have very limited freedom for maneuvering because they are constrained by legislative and regulatory mandates, limited budgets and a sprawling, complex IT estate to maintain. Despite these constraints, government executives want to be digital leaders.

So let’s begin with the end in mind. Just what does it mean to be a digital leader?

21st century digital leaders do six thing well

Through its research, DXC Technology’s Leading Edge Forum (LEF) has defined digital transformation as not only adopting new technology but also acting and operating differently in six areas, with the customer at the center. Digital leaders:

  1. Recognize market trends and experiment with new technologies.
  2. Create an identity that makes sense in a digital world, and a strategy that maintains that identity.
  3. Leverage IT infrastructure, information and talent outside their four walls, especially partners and customers (i.e., an “outside-in” approach).
  4. Re-imagine their ecosystem of products and services to take advantage of digital augmentation, digital linkages between services and digital extensions into new partners.
  5. Develop an agile business that responds quickly to threats and exploits opportunities.
  6. Lead by focusing on value creation and risk, rather than tasks, with emphasis on platform economics and scenario analysis.

Are you doing all six of these well? Are you doing them at all? These capabilities transcend digital technology and are the essence of the 21st century organization. (See the LEF report, “Winning in the 21st Century: A User’s Guide.”)

When an organization scales its digital transformation, it replaces legacy methods with automated, analytically enabled processes that extend across the enterprise, thereby reducing operational overhead, simplifying access and improving responsiveness. It focuses on standardization, robotic process automation, analytical insights, machine learning and self-healing. These techniques require enterprises to rethink how information flows, how to promote the right information, and how to govern its usage and protection.


Transforming to a digital enterprise – blog post

Transforming to a digital enterprise – overview paper and video

Digital: From A to Z



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