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Digitalization starts with organizing

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Excessive attention to modern digital technology distracts from the real basic challenges of CIOs, CTOs, CDOs and other tech leaders. Adoption of solutions is pointless without the right organizational structure. Only when everything and everyone is positioned in the optimal role and function, the right technology choices will be made effective.

Many organizations still operate in two completely different worlds: on the one hand, the opportunities of the new digital business models – often driven by technology-capable employees and leaders. On the other hand, there are the traditional activities: the command and control mechanisms, linked to inherited structures, workforce and skills.

The difficulty for many companies is not primarily embracing technologies and capabilities. Thanks to the progressive part of the employees, this is already widely happening. The main challenge is landing the proliferation of these often scattered initiatives in a structured organization-wide manner. A multimodal-based approach is the key to the right organizational design and an optimal mix of competencies.

A common starting point

A common starting point is crucial. This is achieved by capturing the corporate strategy in one widely supported visualization, based on a well-thought-out canvas process. Everyone first agrees on the product to be delivered to the customer and the market. Then, there must be consensus on the required business activities, including the responsible organizational units.

Here, it helps to capture activities in four modalities:


Represents business activities characterized by a relatively stable environment and that are similar to comparable activities in other organizations, like supportive activities such as financial administration, human resources and facility management.


Represents business activities that are highly responsive, but that do not differ in specific features from comparable activities, products, or services of other organizations. Examples are competitive financial services offered by banks, ticket services for travelling and hotel rooms.


Represents activities that take place in a relatively stable environment. They are specific because they require special knowledge, resources, or methods, like technical maintenance of equipment or specific infrastructure (for example time critical), specific IT, data expertise, process engineering, or activities integrating different business activities.


Represent business activities that are specific and responsive. These business activities play a vital role in the development of new and innovative products and services in response to changing customer demands, to developments in society, technology, or the actions of competitors.

Transparency is key

When the fundamental distinction between all activities is clear, it becomes easier to structure and staff them effectively. In this way, both digital geniuses and the more traditional employees will be more likely to excel. The same goes for their leaders. Also, the relationship between activities is made transparent. This leads to the roll-out of more appropriate technological solutions and possibilities.

Read more about our approach

CIOs, CTOs, CDOs, and other IT leaders who want to carefully consider digitalization and adoption of technology can greatly benefit from the approach outlined by Anderson MacGyver in the newly released white paper Organizing Data and Technology. A method characterized by pragmatism, speed, an open eye for new opportunities and respect for the existing organization. The right way to real digital success.

“A multimodal-based approach is the key to the right organizational design and an optimal mix of competencies.”

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Edwin Wieringa
Guild lead Organization | Management Consultant 6 1323 8109