The Digital Transformation Iceberg uses Sigmund Freud’s iceberg analogy to illustrate how the conscious mind of digital leaders should be focused on far more than the tip of the digital iceberg. The alternative might be likened to the disaster that struck the mighty Titanic on its maiden voyage in 1912.

The iceberg is designed to encourage leaders to look beneath the surface and approach digital enterprise transformation holistically. It helps leaders approach digital business transformation with an open mind and primed to answer the question “what should we transform and how?”

It’s worrying when some suggest the CMO should be leading digital transformation in its entirety, unless the CMO is sufficiently equipped and prepared to address all that sits below the surface of the digital transformation iceberg. Many firms fall into the trap of appointing someone with a very narrow view of digital transformation to lead the effort. It exposes them to a similar risk that took down the Titanic, by not navigating what sits below the surface.

Digital Transformation has Many Hidden Challenges

*This image is sourced from CXO Transform

Digital Transformation Approaches

There are multiple transformation approaches available to help leaders consider the bigger picture of digital transformation. Regardless of which are used, it should be a priority to remove any blinkers that focus a firm ‘only’ upon the customer.

Even when customer centricity at the tip of the iceberg is deemed to be a firm’s strategic priority, the other components that sit immediately below the surface all need to be sufficiently mature, if digital transformation initiatives are to be successful.

It’s important to note that the primary focus needs to be on the business, as opposed to specific technologies. After all, any business should be focused on its strategic business objectives, and how the innovative use of all available technologies can be used to help achieve those objectives. Getting hung up on using a particular technology for the sake of a technology trend is something that all CEOs should look out for.

Six Guiding Principles of Digital Transformation

We know from Stephen Covey that values govern people’s behavior, but principles determine consequences. In the way that Covey encouraged us to utilize key leadership principles, so THRIVE is intended to encourage leaders to utilize six digital business transformation principles to equip themselves for the digital economy challenge.

THRIVE is an acronym made from six words which are:


Transformation, Holistic, Response, Innovative, Value, Enterprise

This is a non-prescriptive set of guiding principles which helps connect the dots in a simple and coherent manner, so you can answer the key questions that are relevant to your organization’s ambitions to innovate, digitize and transform – and ultimately thrive in the years ahead.

From business models influenced by new digital capabilities, through to the successful execution of transformation strategy, these six guiding principles provide leaders with a practical framework for a shared understanding of their organization’s need to truly transform and thrive, in what is set to be a dramatic decade ahead. It helps leaders and senior managers upgrade their ability to innovate, digitize and transform their companies to be highly competitive in the digital economy – in the face of disruptive innovation.

Digital Business Transformation Navigation

As with GPS tools that help us get to where we need to be, THRIVE helps leaders navigate what sits beneath the surface and avoid the same fate that saw the demise of the mighty Titanic back in 1912.


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