3 Keys to the Champion Mindset of a CDO

The Chief Digital Officer (CDO) is typically a company’s principal leader in the digital transformation process. 84% of companies fail at digital transformation, and the average tenure of a CDO is shorter than other C-Suite roles. Of course, there are many reasons for this; it isn’t easy to serve as the primary transformation leader and intermediary between other executives and functions in the creation and rollout of digital initiatives. In order to be successful as a CDO, you must have a champion mindset.

Championship Mentality

Mixed martial arts are a passion of mine. I was blessed to represent the U.S.A internationally as a member of the U.S.A National Sports Jujitsu Team. I broke everything from fingers to eye sockets, but I also learned a lot about champion mentality. Building digital marketing teams has been my other passion for the past 20 years, so I won’t pass up the opportunity to illustrate one in terms of the other.

Here are three keys to having the champion mindset of a CDO:

1. Be Fast

In order to have a champion mindset, be fast. You aren’t going to win many fights by just standing around, and you aren’t going to be successful in digital transformation if you don’t move quickly. Quick successes are critically important. Speed establishes momentum. Focus first on small goals, as this allows your organization to set a transformational culture of success and confidence. When stakeholders see quick and easy change for the better, confidence grows and sets the stage for bigger successes in the future. Consider this key question: are you demonstrating quick, visible successes in a manner which grows confidence?

2. Be courageous

In order to have a champion mindset, be courageous. You will not win a fight by cowering in the corner. In the same fashion, you will join the ranks of the failed if you are not courageous in your digital transformation efforts. Give your digital transformation team permission to fail. While we want easy, early victories, we also know that many things aren’t going to work on the first try. Furthermore, without a “permission to fail” culture, people will be afraid to bring forward their most creative and innovative ideas. Consider this key question: does your team have permission to fail in a manner which fosters courage?

3. Be "all in"

In order to have a champion mindset, be “all in”. Commit to digital transformation, then commit to not turn back. If you must build a capability, it cannot be something you try out or dabble in. I never won a single fight where I wasn’t “all in”. In a world as dynamic as digital, don’t be surprised by adversity, rather, expect new obstacles to follow the next. Actively support and encourage those involved in the digital transformation process. However, going “all-in” doesn’t just require the effort of the CDO. Digital transformation must be functionally, financially, and emotionally funded by the organization as well. The CDO must be given the necessary authority, budget, and support from peers in order to be successful. Consider this key question: are you adequately funded functionally, financially, and emotionally?

In Conclusion

Generally, CDOs are the digital transformation leader for their entire organization, not just for marketing. This is reflected in the substantial failure rates of digital transformation. The success of a CDO requires skill, organizational support, and a champion mindset. Increase your chances of success by being fast, being courageous, and going all in. Contact us for more information..

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Written by Mark Whitman

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