Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation and the Innovator’s Dilemma in Government

Today, across government and industry, leaders are expected to be more innovative, transform their organisations digitally, and prepare for Industry 4.0 whilst maintaining a robust governance model and minimising risk.

This would appear to be at odds with Clayton Christensen’s book, The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997), which states that an innovator needs to demonstrate a healthy appetite for opportunity risk. Much has changed over the past 20 years, yet the lessons from Christensen’s book are even more relevant today, as the pace of technology development quickens.

Like many powerful concepts, successful execution is almost impossible to achieve until enabling technology is invented. So, some twenty years later, it is now possible to safely and effectively consume innovation as part of the digital transformation journey, instead of being compelled to become more innovative.

The question that should be driving today’s leaders is, “Are we best serving ourselves and our customers by attempting to become more innovative, or should we become better at consuming innovation?”

In this paper, readers are asked to consider whether a focus on becoming more innovative is best exchanged for a capability to better consume innovation. Paradoxically, the key to effectively consuming innovation is via an enhanced focus on governance and risk management. The lessons from Christensen’s book are framed contextually by exploring The Departmental Secretary’s Dilemma and how consuming innovation can enable government leaders to better manage sustaining and disruptive technology.

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