Digital Business Transformation als Konzept auf einem Kompass mit vielen Symbolen

Digital Business Transformation als Konzept auf einem Kompass mit vielen Symbolen

3 things I learned about Digital Transformation… by losing to a 5-year-old at Chess
Published on April 13, 2017
John Mc Auliffe
Digital Strategy and Transformation

I’m a self-confessed chess addict.

I learned to play the game three years ago when my son expressed a curiosity about a chessboard he had found.

As his interest in chess grew and he improved, I needed to practice just to give him a competitive game. Before long… I was completely hooked.

There is something particularly rewarding about learning a new skill as an adult. We are able to relate the newly acquired skills to our own life experience, in a way that our younger selves may not have appreciated.

The experience of learning to play chess, and observing how the chess industry has adapted to digital disruption, has provided an interesting lens to view the impact of Digital Transformation in a mature industry.

A blend of old and new

Every generation considers itself to be uniquely impacted by change and yet the ways that we interpret and react to change can be surprisingly predictable.

When an IBM computer first won a chess game against a world champion in 1996, many wondered if this was the ‘beginning of the end’ for the game of chess (Google’s AlphaGo produced a similar reaction last year).

However, despite many predictions, disruption in the guise of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) has not signaled the end for one of the world’s oldest games. Instead the Chess industry has been a strong adopter of technology and the game is thriving like never before.

Three lessons to guide Digital Transformation

Chess is a game of strategy and so it can be expected that a number of similarities exist between worlds of Chess and Digital Transformation. Obvious examples are – the dynamic nature of both domains, with the need to adapt and react at every turn. Both worlds use phases to manage complexity and time is a constraining factor for both.

Also, as referenced in the title above, incumbents in both the Chess and Digital Transformation arenas can be challenged and humbled by young and relatively inexperienced entrants (as this clip shows).

However, three lessons, in particular, have stood out for me as providing compelling insight into any Digital Transformation effort. 1. Ensuring sufficient synergy for your pieces so that they work together, 2. Playing to your strengths while avoiding competency traps and 3. Learning to balance opposing demands.

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