HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leading Digital Transformation: A book review by Bob Morris

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Leading Digital Transformation
Various Contributors
Harvard Business Review Press (September 2021)

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Toffler

This book is one of the most recent volumes in a series that anthologizes what the editors of the Harvard Business Review consider to be “must reads” in a given business subject area. In this instance, leading digital transformation. Each of the selections is eminently deserving of inclusion.

If all of the twelve articles were purchased separately as reprints, the total cost would be about $110 and the practical value of any one of them far exceeds that. In fact, Amazon US now sells this volume for $50 but the pre-order cost is only $11.99. That’s not a bargain, that’s a steal.

The same is true of volumes in other series such as HBR Guide to…, Harvard Business Review on…, and Harvard Business Essentials. I also think there is great benefit derived from the convenience of having a variety of perspectives and insights readily available in a single volume, one that is potable.

In all of the volumes in the HBR’s 10 Must Read series that I have read thus far, the contributors and their HBR editors make skillful use of several reader-friendly devices that include “Idea in Brief” and “Idea in Action” sections, checklists with and without bullet points, boxed mini-commentaries (some of which are “guest” contributions from other sources), and graphic charts and diagrams that consolidate especially valuable information. These and other devices facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of key material later.

* * *

Those who read HBR’s 10 Must Reads On Leading Digital Transformation can develop the cutting-edge thinking needed to achieve a decisive competitive advantage. More specifically, they will learn HOW TO

o Conduct discovery-driven digital transformation
o Develop a transformative mindset to formulate the right business model
o Include non-disruptive initiatives
o Anticipate the next strategy that will be needed

o Compete in the Age of AI
o Build the AI-powered organization
o Develop smart, connected products that can transform companies
o Achieve success in the Age of Continuous Connection

o Solve problems associated with legacy ecosystems
o Lead a workforce that is more adaptable than you may now think it is
o Apply lessons to be learned from Apple’s culture of innovation
o Recognize and leverage talent in four key areas

Digital transformation is a team initiative. It illustrates the wisdom of this African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Some (albeit few) companies are able to go both fast and far. Organizations that have successfully undergone digital transformation find that partnering with technology outsourcers and customers increases success. Digital transformation also results in more agile, discovery-driven processes, technology ecosystems, and organizational philosophies. Technology and business process outsourcers can bridge internal culture, skill, technology and data gaps that become stumbling blocks to digital adoption.

That said, it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to apply everything learned from the material provided on this volume. Think of the contributors as members of an unofficial board of advisors. Carefully consider their insights and recommendations, then cherry-pick whatever is most relevant to your organization’s current and imminent needs. Also, keep in mind that all transformations are an on-going, never-ending process, not a specific destination.


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