Empowerment is the key digital transformation success factor

Jerome Parisse-Brassens

One of the key cultural attributes of successful digital transformations, which we identified in our recent research on Culture for Digital/AI, is empowerment. The term and the concept are not new. In fact, many employees in organisations today sort of expect to be empowered to do their job. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence, the need for autonomy and empowerment becomes even more pressing.

Why does a successful digital transformation require empowerment?

  • The purpose of most true digital transformations is to provide customers (in the broadest sense) a seamless experience. To do this, employees that are closest to customers need to be empowered to make those decisions that will benefit customers. They need to be in a position to influence the digital transformation in alignment with customer needs and feedback.
  • Many digital transformations fail because they forget to listen to employees. Processes are digitised and implemented in a way that is not completely aligned with the transformation’s purpose. They miss on key elements that would make it better, but that employees are not able to share because they are not truly listened to.
  • Digital transformation is not a technology project but a business project that needs to be embraced by every employee. Empowering employees to be part of the transformation is a key success factor. They can put their skills and expertise in service of the transformation.

What empowerment looks like in practice

Leaders and managers must learn how to:

  • Set clear goals and communicate clearly
  • Share information generously and transparently
  • Release control, trust their employees’ skills
  • Listen
  • Allow for mistakes
  • Keep employees accountable

Employees must learn how to:

  • Take initiative
  • Think ahead and think more strategically
  • Use their judgment and go off script – and make mistakes
  • Be bold
  • Assume responsibility for outcomes

The biggest impediment to empowerment that we find in our clients is the fear that many managers and leaders have to let go, to trust employees and release their need for control.

A number of personal beliefs need to be present in organisations for empowerment to be healthy. Some of them include:



  • People learn and improve by being given enough room to make mistakes.
  • Mistakes are a great way to learn.
  • My job is to help my people become more successful.
  • I am expected to make the right decisions with the right information.
  • I have a different job to my staff, so if I step in and do their job I am not doing my own.
  • I am trusted.
  • I don’t need permission.


To download the Digital Transformation and AI report click below.

Download Digital Transformation & ai report

For further insights view our selection of case studies, ebooks, reports and white papers or contact us to learn how we can transform your culture.


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