June 19, 2018

It’s easy to assume that an organization’s executives are the ones that get things done. After all, they are the people with the big titles – Founder, Partner, CEO, EVP, VP, Director – and they’ve been given important management roles. But the fact is, Doers come from all levels.

I’ve seen more great ideas, innovative initiatives and successful program launches driven by people who are not recognized as the leaders, people who, through sheer tenacity and the belief in their idea, make something happen.

These people are “Digital Doers.”

Today’s smartest senior leadership is adapting to the idea economy by creating an environment where people in the organization can bring their ideas to the forefront, where experimentation with technology is encouraged, where failing is not career-ending, and where chances to prove oneself are plentiful.

This fundamental change of approach is happening because the rate of change – of customer expectations, of innovation, of technology, of transformation – is faster than ever before. And ideas, drive and innovation are needed like never before.

New things need to happen, and they need to happen quickly. Today it’s all about your idea.

What are the traits of a Digital Doer?

They know the business. Doers have a deep understanding of its product/services, focus on process, see what causes friction, identify what is necessary to deliver results, seek insight from every level of the organization, and use the information to create a map of gaps and opportunities.

They know technology. A Doer in the digital world uses technology to frame opportunity. They understand hardware and software. They see how embedding technology in products and services creates differentiation. They can translate technology trends into opportunities.

They know the facts. Gut feel is out. And analytics is just the start. For Doers, the “facts” include meticulously collected customer research, partner views, frontline feedback, back-office insight, technology limitations, realistic roadmaps, the impact of similar initiatives, what has and hasn’t worked in the past (and why), and more.

They are familiar with continuous innovation principles. Doers have been trained in Kaizen, LEAN, Six Sigma or Agile. And they can use these techniques to solve problems.

They know how to mitigate risk. Doers look to reduce risk using continuous innovation principles. They work to clear a path for their team. They scan for potential pitfalls.

They know data. Doers are familiar with systems, tools and data. They determine what data is needed to solve the problem at-hand. They have their team looking for information gaps and, when they find them, work to fill them.

They climb over roadblocks. Because they know their domain and processes, because they know the facts and because they know technology, Doers do not accept “that won’t work,” “that’s too difficult” or “no” as an answer.

They know how to form high-performing teams. Doers understand the skill sets required for a project. They know who in the organization has those skills. And they can tell you who in that group is best suited to be part of an initiative.

They do not have analysis paralysis. Doers know time is of the essence and, anyway, they have the facts behind them. They know agility is critical. And they insist their teams think the same way.

They are solution-focused. Doers desire to see better outcomes. They want to differentiate. They care about people, teams, products and customers. They want to solve problems, not just point them out.

You wouldn’t think a Digital Doers with all those critical characteristics needs help sometimes. But they do.

  • Some are not good at company politics, and need to be shielded by their manager.
  • Some are not able to communicate well, and need mentoring, training or leadership support.
  • Some are great at getting things done but not so great at initiating innovation and change, so they need leaders to create the spark and let the Doer craft, reform, refine and execute.
  • Some are not able to see the forest for the trees. They are so good at execution that they are not able to quantify the benefits. These Doers should be balanced by outcome-oriented leadership and big-picture-focused team members.

For enterprises to survive the digital storm, it is critical to create an environment where Digital Doers can attain the responsibility to drive great ideas, innovation, initiatives and programs forward.

Are you a Digital Doer?


Adapted from The Enterprise Digital Doer Movement, by Raheel Retiwalla. To read the complete article on LinkedIn, go here.

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