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December 22, 2013
A soliloquy for the digital champion – high tech Hamlet
By: Mark McDonald

Digital transformation creates existential challenges for business leaders. Being digital requires new ways of thinking, putting the customer first, working from the outside-in, and crafting combinations rather than adding layers of specialization.

This situation is as old as leadership itself. Today’s digital champions contemplate the challenges and choice to be digital. This brings to mind the choices and soliloquy of another famous figure facing a change – Hamlet.

In the spirit of mixing up materials on the blog, please accept the adaptation below of the internal dialogue digital champions might face. Enter the digital champion, tablet device aglow in their hand, move to center stage and then…

To be, or not to be- digital -that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler to feel digital by putting the past on a sheet of glass
Or to face the slings and arrows of digital disruption
To take arms against internal inertia
And by opposing end them. To win, to succeed—
Furthermore—and by success to become digital

The challenge, and the thousand natural shocks required
That realizing growth and results are heir to. Tis a disruption
Devoutly to be wished for. To be digital, to succeed—
To succeed—perchance is a digital dream:

ay, there's the rub,
For in those digital dreams that come
When we have shuffled off this analog coil,
Must give us pause.

There's the respect for who we are today
The past creating a calamity of so long a corporate life,
So seeming stable the current state.

To be digital we must grow beyond the practices and principles laid over time,
Th' internal organization’s doubt, the stakeholder’s contumely
The pangs of customers, the regulator's delay,
The insolence of culture, and the spurns of entrenched executives
The things that make the past unworthy to continue into the future,

When leaders themselves might change make
With knowledge of the potential of what digital means?
Who would bear the burden,
To labor toward the future,
And dread the complacency that comes from installing yet another technology,

An undiscovered country, for whose brave enough to be digital
A country where no incumbents currently live, this puzzles the strategy,
Making us cling to the limitations we believe we have
Rather than to fly to others that we know not of? To test, to learn, to be digital

Thus conscience and corporate culture can make cowards of us all,
So long as we think in ways past, ways that deepen the hue of our resolution
Ways that cast a pale over our thoughts, limits our future, our transformation

Digital is an endeavor involving great pitch and moment,
a change worth changing for
With new resolve to journey beyond the current way, to awry the desire to feel digital but not be digital.

To take up action—Soften the status quo, now!
Onto new customers, results and innovation, the targets of digital ambition
Be all my sins lessons to be learned but not a past to be re-lived.

My apologies to the Shakespeare scholars for borrowing heavily from the Bard, but it’s a powerful way to capture the challenges and choices facing digital champions.

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