Digital Leaders Must Embrace the Lion

Become the Lion
What does this picture make you think about?

My first thoughts veer to a post I made last year, Agile Culture - Are You Developing Solutions or Solving for Business Opportunities? In that post, I suggested that agile product owners first must study the market and understand what problems that they can solve for customer and sell profitably. However, here's what I hear from less experienced product owners, "Can you build me something that does A, B, and C for Users X and Y and have it completed within the next couple of weeks." Now some product owners today are technical enough to come up with solutions, but their job is to articulate the business problem, market opportunity, and priority.

It reminds me of several examples when leaders hold onto sacred cows because they are subject matter experts and are ill prepared to collaborate when digital transformation is a necessity. By definition, when we are trying to transform we have to be able to question everything, challenge assumptions, bring in new data and facts, and develop new innovative thinking. 

It also makes me think of the impact of transparency. When you produce KPIs, operational metrics, agile development metrics, quality scores and other measures, are you more likely to get supporters and champions? Or do you get detractors who pick at a metric without the underlying context, claim you're doing something wrong, and try to use the data to promote their own IT solutions or their own way of doing things?

That's why this quote resonates with many CIO, IT leaders, and digital leaders. Become the lion or be the wolf?

Truth is, transformation requires a balanced approach. A lion, a wolf, a dove, a dolphin. The hard part is deciding what to be when.

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.