In a previous blog post, I’ve outlined the tenets of Digital DNA, for organizations and individuals. Today, I’m writing about what it takes to lead a digital organization and some of the things I’ve learned leading Wipro Digital.


Digital DNA for an organization is characterized by four attributes: agility, external orientation, risk taking, and cross-functionality.


To become Digital, an organization will need to rethink its business strategy, organization model and culture. It will need to embed Digital throughout its culture, ways of working and even ways of competing. For leaders of larger organizations, this imperative can seem daunting. It takes courage to find new ways to balance predictability, industrialization and standardization with agility, responsiveness, and flexibility.


At Wipro Digital, we are incorporating Digital into our fabric. I’ve been asked to give a specific example of how Wipro is doing things differently than traditional organizations and I thought I’d focus on how we manage our people.


In the hiring process, traditionally the line manager hires and there is a hierarchy in the interview. At Wipro Digital, we’ve made a conscious decision to make sure there are interviews done outside the line manager because we want to work in a cross-functional organization. For example, when I am hiring a sales professional, I would look for inputs from our strategy team in the selection process. Similarly, if I am hiring a solution delivery person, I would want the sales team to get involved in the process.


This is how we have structured our work space. We have created pod-like spaces, where we can sit together and physically co-locate in cross-functional teams — sitting together and working together on projects.


In terms of performance management, we don’t want to conduct appraisals annually. We will have quarterly feedback instead because no one should have to wait a year for formal feedback. In an agile and collaborative environment, peers can provide more contextual and effective feedback – hence it is important to amplify this aspect of feedback more than manager’s feedback.


There are two things I’ve learned while leading Wipro Digital.


One is that leaders have to stay adaptive – whether it is with regard to structures we build, process and policies that enable the environment, or roles that people play. To be successful as leader it is important to create structures, systems and policies that enable this open, collaborative and flexible environment to thrive. This is where we’ve invested a lot of our initial effort.


As everything in the digital world is measurable, even leadership styles have to be very data oriented to facilitate quick and accurate decision-making. For example, Google even measures the success rate of every interviewer by collecting and analyzing interview feedback, and turning it into insights to help improve selection methods. Leaders should have the ability to work on real time, in an interruption – driven environment and be non-hierarchical in order to be effective in this highly collaborative environment.


The second thing shouldn’t be a surprise. To be successful in this environment, a leader needs to be “pi-shaped.” They will have breadth and depth in certain areas, but the critical skill and quality that makes them different is their ability to operate at the intersection of multiple skills. It’s no longer a question about “specialists” or “generalists,” it’s now the era of multi-disciplined experts and leaders.


Again, it all comes down to each one of us growing that Digital DNA within ourselves: agility, external orientation, risk taking and cross-functional knowledge. It’s not enough to integrate it into the fiber of your organization, but as leaders we must embody these tenets ourselves.


Rajan Kohli

Rajan Kohli

President, Wipro Digital


Rajan Kohli is President of Wipro Digital, the digital services unit of Wipro Limited. Wipro is a leader in digital transformation strategy and services for domestic, multinational, and Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Kohli previously led the Banking and Financial Services (BFS) vertical at Wipro and served as Wipro's Chief Marketing Officer.

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