Digital transformation success factor categories and best practices by Diederik Zunneberg

Digital transformations may be more difficult than traditional change efforts. McKinsey & Company conducted a survey in 2018 that identifies 5 success factor categories and 21 best practices.

5 success factor categories

  1. having the right, digital savvy leaders in place

  2. building capabilities for the workforce of the future

  3. empowering people to work in new ways

  4. giving day-to-day tools a digital upgrade

  5. communicating frequently via traditional and digital methods

21 keys to success: digital transformation best practices

  1. Implement digital tools to make information more accessible across the organization.

  2. Engage initiative leaders (leaders of either digital or nondigital initiatives that are part of the transformation) to support the transformation.

  3. Modify standard operating procedures to include new digital technologies.

  4. Establish a clear change story (description of and case for the changes being made) for the digital transformation.

  5. Add one or more people who are familiar or very familiar with digital technologies to the top team.

  6. Leaders engaged in transformation-specific roles encourage employees to challenge old ways of working (processes and procedures).

  7. Senior managers encourage employees to challenge old ways of working (processes and procedures).

  8. Redefine individuals’ roles and responsibilities so they align with the transformation’s goals.

  9. Provide employees with opportunities to generate ideas of where digitization might support the business.

  10. Establish one or more practices related to new ways of working (such as continuous learning, open physical and virtual work environments, and role mobility).

  11. Engage employees in integrator roles (employees who translate and integrate new digital methods and processes into existing ways of working to help connect traditional and digital parts of the business) to support the transformation.

  12. Implement digital self-serve technology for employees’ and business partners’ use.

  13. Engage the leader of a program-management office or transformation office (full-time leader of the
    team or office dedicated to transformation-related activities) to support the transformation.

  14. Leaders in transformation-specific roles get more involved in developing the digital transformation’s initiatives than they were in past change efforts.

  15. Leaders in transformation-specific roles encourage their employees to experiment with new ideas (such as rapid prototyping and allowing employees to learn from their failures).

  16. Senior managers get more involved in digital initiatives than they were in past change efforts.

  17. Leaders in transformation-specific roles ensure collaboration between their units and others across the organization when employees are working on transformation initiatives.

  18. Senior managers ensure collaboration between their units and others across the organization.

  19. Engage technology-innovation managers (managers with specialized technical skills who lead work on digital innovations, such as development of new digital products or services) to support the transformation.

  20. Senior managers encourage their employees to experiment with new ideas.

  21. Senior managers foster a sense of urgency within their units for making the transformation’s changes.

Research method
The McKinsey online survey was in the field from January 16, 2018, to January 26, 2018, and garnered responses from 1,793 participants representing the full range of regions, industries, company sizes, functional specialties, and tenures. Of them, 1,521 have been part of at least one digital transformation in the past five years at either their current or previous organizations. To adjust for differences in response rates, the data are weighted by the contribution of each respondent’s nation to global GDP.

Unlocking success in digital transformations”, October 2018,

Congruence model Nadler Tushman by Diederik Zunneberg

Congruence Model for Organization Behavior, Nadler Tushman, click on image to enlarge




A. Diagnosis in three steps

Nadler and Tushman use three steps for diagnosis:

  • Identify the system

  • Determine the nature of the key variables

  • Diagnose the state of fits

B. Model elements

Being an open-systems model there are three main sections:

  • Inputs

  • Transformation process

  • Outputs


  • Environment

  • Resources

  • History and

  • Strategy

Environment includes all factors outside the organization that have a potential impact on the organization. A thorough analysis requires not only looking at current state, but also making assumptions about the future state.

Resources are all the various assets to which the organization has access, including human resources, capital, information, as well as less tangible resources, such as recognition in the market.

The element of history is often overlooked in diagnosing organizations. Nadler and Tushman explicitly list the organization’s history as an input. Explore the history of patterns of employee behavior, policy, the types of people the organization attracts and recruits and how decisions get made in a crisis.

Strategy is the process of determining how the organization’s resources are best used within the environment, and within the historical context, in order to attain the desired goals. It is the act of identifying opportunities and creating a fit with the organization’s capabilities. Strategy is seen as an input, but has been put apart in the model.

Critical features for analysis of inputs

  1. What demands does the environment make on the organization?

  2. How does the environment put constraints on organizational action?

  3. What is the relative quality of the different resources?

  4. To what extent are resources fixed rather than flexible in their configuration(s)?

  5. What have been the major stages or phases of the organizations development?

  6. What is the current impact of such historical factors as strategic decisions, acts of key leaders, crises, and core values and norms?

  7. How has the organization defined its core mission, including markets and customer segments it serves and products/services it provides?

  8. On what basis does it compete?

  9. What supporting strategies has the organization employed to achieve the core mission?

  10. What specific objectives have been set for organizational output?

Transformation process elements

– Task

– Individual

– Formal organizational arrangements

– Informal organization


Outputs are defined on a organizational, group and individual level.


The model contains various feedback loops to monitor the effects of changes made to the system.

C. Key questions on the fit of transformation process elements

The analysis concentrates on the degree to which key components are congruent with one another. Key questions are:

  • To what extent do the organizational arrangements fit with the requirements of the task?

  • To what extent do individual skills and needs fit with task requirements, with organizational arrangements, and with the informal organization?

  • To what extent do task requirements fit with both the formal and the informal organization?

D. Questions for assessing the effectiveness of the system as a whole

The main assumption is that a lack of fit between components produces poor organizational performance. Main questions for diagnosing the effectiveness of the systems functioning as a whole are:

  • How well is the organization attaining its desired goals of production, service, return on investment and so on?

  • How well is the organization utilizing its resources?

  • How well is the organization coping with (disruptive) changes in its environment over time?

E. Congruence: double-edged sword

With regards to the third element – fit with the environment over time – Nadler and Tushman recognize that too much congruence can harm the agility of organizations.

“While our model implies that congruence of organizational components is a desirable state, it is, in fact, a double-edged sword. In the short term, congruence seems to be related to effectiveness and performance. A system with high congruence, however, can be resistant to change. It develops ways of insulating itself from outside influences and may be unable to respond to new situations.”

The concept of congruence builds on views by George Homans in his pioneering work on social processes in organizations, emphasizing the need for consistency among key elements of organizational behavior. Leavitt identified four major components of organization: people, task, technology and structure. Other related authors are: James Seiler, Paul Lawrence, Jay Lorsch and Alan Sheldon.

F. Sources

  • A Model for Diagnosing Organizational Behavior, David A. Nadler, Michael L. Tushman, Organizational Dynamics, 1980

  • Organizational Framebending: Principles for Managing Reorientation, Nadler and Tushman, 1989

  • Understanding Organizations, The Process of Diagnosis, Warner Burke, 1992


Change management process models | Kotter, Jick, Garvin, Mento et al by Diederik Zunneberg

Change management process models | Kotter, Jick, Garvin, Mento et al | click on image to enlarge

John Kotter (1995)
1. Establish sense of urgency
2. Form a powerful guiding coalition
3. Create a vision
4. Communicate the vision
5. Empower others to act on vision
6. Plan for and create short-term wins
7. Consolidate improvements, producing more change
8. Institutionalize new approaches



Todd Jick (1991)
1. Analyse the organisation and its need for change
2. Create a shared vision and common direction
3. Separate from the past
4. Create a sense of urgency
5. Support a strong leader role
6. Line up political sponsorship
7. Craft an implementation plan
8. Develop enabling structures
9. Communicate, involve people, be honest
10. Reinforce and institutionalize the change

David Garvin (2000)
1. Analyse the organisation and its need for change
2. Create a shared vision and common direction
3. Separate from the past
4. Create a sense of urgency
5. Support a strong leader role
6. Line up political sponsorship
7. Craft an implementation plan
8. Develop enabling structures
9. Communicate, involve people, be honest
10. Reinforce and institutionalize the change

Anthony Mento, Raymond Jones, Walter Dirndorfer (2002)
1. Identify the idea and its context
2. Define the change initiative
3. Evaluate the climate for change
4. Develop a change plan
5. Find and cultivate a sponsor
6. Prepare your target audience
7. Create the cultural fit – making change last
8. Develop and choose a change leader team
9. Create small wins for motivation
10. Constantly and strategically communicate the change
11. Measure the progress of the change effort
12. Integrate lessons learned

Using the Nadler Tushman Congruence Model by Diederik Zunneberg

Using the Nadler Tushman Congruence Model, click to enlarge image

Basic problem analysis steps using the Nadler Tushman Congruence Model for Diagnosing Organizational Behavior:

  1. Identify symptoms
  2. Specify inputs
  3. Identify outputs
  4. Identify problems
  5. Describe components of the organization
  6. Assess congruence
  7. Generate and identify causes
  8. Identify action steps




  1. Identify symptoms: List data indicating possible existence of problems.
  2. Specify inputs: Identify the system. Determine nature of environment, resources, and history. Identify critical aspects of strategy.
  3. Identify outputs: Identify data that define the nature of outputs at various levels (individual, group/unit, organizational). This should include desired outputs (from strategy), and actual outputs being obtained.
  4. Identify problems: Identify areas where there are significant and meaningful differences between desired and actual outputs. To the extent possible, identify penalties; that is, specific costs (actual and opportunity costs) associated with each problem.
  5. Describe components of the organization: Describe basic nature of each of the four components with emphasis on their critical features.
  6. Assess congruence: Conduct analysis to determine relative congruence among components (draw on submodels as needed)
  7. Generate and identify causes: Analyze to associate fit with specific problems.
  8. Identify action steps: Indicate the possible actions to deal with problem causes.


Based on: A Model for Diagnosing Organizational Behavior, Nadler, Tushman | Stormbal Consulting | Classic Models Review | Diederik Zunneberg | #160005 c01