Connect strategy and operations for effective digital transformation

24 November 2021 6 min. read
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As a senior manager at Innopay, Josje Fiolet helps businesses and public institutions to digitally transform. “All organisations are aware of the need to use technology and data to support value creation. But a digital transformation doesn’t have a clear beginning or end. Instead, it’s a continuous journey that affects every aspect of your organisation.”

“The aim is to innovate your current business to increase your efficiency and competitiveness. At the same time, you need to create new value by developing different business models and propositions in order to remain relevant and achieve further growth.”

Based on her experiences, Fiolet suggests that organisations often “underestimate just how much effort” it requires to be successful in digital transformation. The root cause in most transformations? “A mismatch between the strategy and operations. They develop new digital products or services without thinking carefully about how they will fit into the overall day-to-day operation. And they forget to take a holistic view of the whole process.”

Josje Fiolet, Senor Manager, Innopay

Strategic and operational mismatch

Despite all the energy that organisations invest into digital transformation processes and programmes, the output is often disappointing. In fact, the costs frequently turn out to be higher than expected, the results are below par and the lead time is longer than planned.

“These are all down to gaps and miscommunication within the organisation,” explains Fiolet. “Often, large-scale programmes are set up which then start conducting their development work relatively independently of the organisation. When the new product or service is finally ready, it has to be integrated into the existing organisation. But the two sides often aren’t aligned: there’s a mismatch between the strategy and operations.”

Holistic operating model

In her role as senior manager at Innopay, Fiolet is an expert on strategy execution with extensive practical knowledge of the hurdles companies can face. “When clients come to us for help, we first look at the organisation as a whole and the company’s operating context. Our goal is to clearly understand their reason or motivation for digitally transforming. Are they aiming to save costs, comply with new legislation, or safeguard and strengthen their market position?”

“Those starting points influence which changes could and should be made. We use the operating model to analyse the relevant links and elements of the internal organisation. We assess whether – and, if so, where – the new strategy will impact on the organisation and which activities are already presenting challenges. In effect, the operating model gives us a cross-section of the organisation in which we can connect all its elements to discover the organisation’s modus operandi.”

“We need clear insight into that before we can bring the strategy and operations together.”

In charge of the mixing desk

The operating model is made up of eight elements, including the decision-making, the organisational culture and the processes. “We investigate the influence of the different elements of the operating model in the context of the challenges or the expected impact,” continues Fiolet.

“For example, in which layers of the organisation are decisions made? What kind of data is being used? Which people are involved, and which skills and knowledge do they need? All these are examples of elements that are essential for a successful digital transformation. You could compare it to a mixing desk with knobs you can twiddle to fine-tune your process.”

“Take the decision-making element; if your organisation wants to be able to respond to new developments quickly, you will sometimes have to give decision-making responsibility to people lower down in the organisation. If you notice that programmes and processes are taking far too long, then you can tweak this lever. But if you prefer to stay in control yourself, then this is one knob that you should definitely leave alone. In a nutshell, we help to put organisations back in charge of the mixing desk.”


To help customers both understand and operate the mixing desk better, Innopay has developed the Crosslinx methodology. Fiolet: “Crosslinx enables us to create a common language within the organisation to prevent miscommunication. Crosslinx is like a holistic lens that helps everyone within the organisation to learn to view the organisation’s value-creation activities differently.”

Connect strategy and operations for effective digital transformation

As Crosslinx takes value creation rather than the organisational structure as the starting point, the approach “complements existing standards and methodologies such as agile or lean – but instead of replacing them, it focuses on how you can increase their value. Additionally, Crosslinx highlights the interrelationships between the underlying elements within the company at both the strategic level and the operational level.”

All in all, Crosslinx enable leaders to maintain a helicopter view. Fiolet: “You can see the impact of digital developments on your day-to-day activities and you can make adjustments along the way. Which challenges are you expecting, and how can you set priorities? Which knobs do you need to twiddle and how can you give people the necessary level of responsibility?”

“It’s ultimately about the big picture, and then you can zoom in on the details. That’s what makes Crosslinx suitable for any type of company or organisation during a digital transformation. It helps them to stay within their budget, achieve a faster time to market and deliver better results.”

Leveraging momentum

“There’s nothing wrong with embarking on digital transformation projects and programmes,” emphasises Fiolet. “But it’s important to make sure that there’s an efficient and effective connection between strategy and execution. You first need to have visibility into all the elements within your organisation and understand how they relate to each other. Only then can you leverage their momentum in order to digitally transform your company successfully.”