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Why your Business Should Consider a Ground-Up Approach

Starting Small and Winning with Digital Transformation

News & Blog

Why your Business Should Consider a Ground-Up Approach

Traditionally, companies have approached digital transformation using a top-down approach. While some see success with this strategy, many others are left disappointed with the small changes they experience for such a significant investment of time and money.

So why does a top-down approach work for some businesses – but not others?

Because digital transformation requires a cultural change. And everyone typically agrees, effective culture change is a bottom-up process.

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Successful digital transformation requires much more than just an upgrade to your technology: you need to change your behavior, culture, and working practices. Some businesses already have a culture that is ripe for digital transformation, but many don’t, and trying to create that change from a top-down approach can be a tough ask. It is these businesses that are often left disappointed in the results they receive from a top-down approach.

Is your team ready for digital transformation?

For digital transformation to occur you need much more than a strategy: you need employees who are going to get on board and enact it. Ideally, your employees will be eager for change and ready to embrace and support your efforts, but that isn’t always the case.

If your people aren’t ready, then a top-down digital transformation strategy may not produce the results you hope for. Many projects stumble because the employees on the ground prefer doing it ‘the old way.’

How eager is your staff for digital transformation? Is a top-down strategy a risk due to a lack of buy-in at ground level?

How can you encourage a digitally transformative culture?

Imposing culture from the top rarely works. Instead, this change should come from the ground level. A ground-up approach, delivering small wins in particular teams, builds momentum, helping a culture of digital transformation take root. Other teams, seeing what is working, will start to say “we want this too”, and demand will grow. Over time, as successes build up, the right culture will flourish.

Of course, not every project will end in a traditional “success”. If you want to be innovative, that means taking a few risks, and sometimes a project ends in a decision not to take it any further. If you stop at the right time and learn lessons from the project it’s still valuable; we like to call these projects “successful failures.”

Creating a culture that celebrates both successful failures and traditional successes is essential for digital transformation: your team must be comfortable taking risks and trying new things.

The bottom-up approach has the advantage that by focusing on specific groups, the strategy can work within existing budgets, instead of requiring the huge, company-wide budget that an all-encompassing top-down approach demands. When solutions are tested in small teams first, only a small amount of resources are used, so a failure becomes useful rather than catastrophic.

Could a bottom-up approach kick-start your digital transformation? Does your culture celebrate successful failures?

Ground-up or top-down – how about both?

Of course, choosing a ground-up approach doesn’t mean you can’t use top-down strategies as well. Once you’ve planted the seeds of your transformation with a few well-placed projects, you could start instigating a top-down approach with the two meeting in the middle.

To achieve both strategies you will need more than one partner. While the big firms specialize in top-down digital transformation, they are unable to instigate a bottom-up approach because of their size, and a lack of experience in this area.

Instead, you’ll need to partner with a smaller, more agile, digital transformation specialist to get the most out of your bottom-up strategy.

Are you working with appropriate partners for your digital transformation project?


We love to discuss digital transformation! If you do as well, give us a call us at 877-932-8357 or email us:[email protected]

We take processes apart, rethink, rebuild, and deliver them back working smarter than ever before.