Founder Shayna Atkins Talk Digital Transformation And How Diversity Might Be Your Problem

Upfront Work sat down with Shayna Atkins, founder of AtkCo, Inc, an Agile learning academy for professionals on and offline for lean product development at scale. AtkCo, Inc believes every team member should have the skills necessary to proactively win at digital disruption.

Why are companies investing in digital transformation?

Digital transformation is understanding everything digital within the organization. Today, almost every company uses digital platforms to produce innovation. This natural progress of technology supports companies to thrive. Unfortunately, a lot of times innovation is silo within a new department or team, and less focused on scalability. Without incorporating this technology into the organization, think Sears, Kodak, and Blockbuster, companies cannot keep pace with competition. One industry that felt it the fastest was financial services.  

Tell us a little about your company.  How do you help companies with their digital transformation?

My company helps organizations stay ahead of the curve around coaching, training and organizational design. We are agile in everything we do and specialize in agility at scale. Whether you are building a new product, improving an existing one or connecting multiple products across your organization, we help you use agility to go to market, iterate and improve over time. We are a bunch of coaches who believe that agile and transformation starts from the inside out, and staying ahead of the curve requires how organizations, teams, businesses work from the intern to the CEO.  Within our own company, we focus on how to better use agile.

How can companies have a successful digital transformation?

It is not about the trend of “digital transformation,” it is about the goal and getting clarity on the vision, goal and outcome.  Before hiring the next consulting firm, figure out what you want and understanding that first. Your service providers, team and leaders need to be honed in on what the goal is and it is measurable.  This goal and outcome permeate throughout the organization and the culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. Are these organizations bought in? Are they invested in the resources and the outcome?

How does diversity play a role in digital transformation?

After ten years, I’ve noticed a lack of diversity in leadership in industries like oil & gas, telecommunications and financial services.  The leadership tends to look the same and they are confused why they can’t reach their customers. The truth is that leaders look nothing like the customer.  So aligning the customer journey to the corporate strategy is crucial, and it's faster getting the right answers when the diverse people are in the room.

AtkCo, Inc recently started a community for women executives experiencing transformation InnovateHer Transformation Summit in response to this. We are in an environment where continuous learning and growth mindset are not optional to keep pace. I  recently was in an All Hands where a CSO was emphasizing collaboration over competition and demonstrated that by facilitating a weekly call with the other CSO’s at the top 5 companies in his industry. Leadership collaboration is a big component of successful transformation and we wanted to be a bridge for women executives in this unique position of leading digital change. 

If you could give one piece of advice for companies looking to do this, what would it be and why?

Being intentional with who you choose to partner with to get it done.  Does your service providers reflect where you are trying to go? Think Gain.  I am observing a high dependence on hired experts with a heavy reliance on the transformation of knowledge.  CSO talk about digital transformation and do not know anything about it. They are talking about what needs to be done without leading with example resulted in a poor understanding and lack of authenticity.

Bridget McMullan