Changing the Organizational Leadership DNA to Support a Digital Business

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Samantha Bureau-Johnson is the VP of Business Process Excellence and the Project Management Office at BCBSNC. She is currently accountable for an enterprise portfolio of strategic business initiatives that have an annual investment of over $300M, as well as, delivering over $100M in improvement initiatives since the Business Process Excellence program began in 2008. Her responsibilities also include Enterprise Business Architecture and Business Analysis. She has been with BCBSNC since 1996 and has served in leadership roles in functions across the company including Network Management, Sales & Marketing, Operations, and Human Resources.     She is a dynamic business leader and champion for the enterprise deployment of Lean Six Sigma. She excels at translating strategy into execution to drive solid business outcomes. Her passion for developing talent can be seen in her commitment to coaching and mentoring employees and leaders, as well as, her appointment as an adjunct professor for Leadership Development curriculum in BCBSNC’s BlueUniversity.   Samantha is actively involved in her community and an avid supporter of the Girl Scouts, CORA Emergency Food Bank and the Carolina Tiger Rescue. She has dual Masters degrees (MBA/MHA), over 28 years of business experience, 23 of them in Healthcare Insurance where she has led core operational teams, emerging healthcare models, large project implementations, change leadership initiatives, business process redesigns and IT teams. She is also certified in Coaching, Change Leadership, and Business Leadership Development, and is a Six Sigma Greenbelt.

 “You can change everything about your business by changing your thinking about your business” – Zig Ziglar

Every day, I get up inspired and passionate about the opportunities in front of our company, to “Improve the health and well-being of our customers and communities”. This is our rallying call, our lifeblood, and our purpose that fuels our passion. This is the WHAT we are here to do, as we serve our State, as a Health Insurer with a mission and vision of service.

Being clear in the WHAT, with a strong mission, vision and strategy, is an important foundation. Equally important is the HOW we are going to get there. I have the privilege of leading the teams that serve as the Enterprise Business Strategy Activation arm and several change initiatives that are shifting how we think about the business. 

 In preparing to write this article, I kept coming back to this concept of how much businesses are having to change, at all levels, to become digitally capable. Organizations that focus solely on the technical tools rather than thinking about how the tools can shift the way they operate as a business, leave a significant amount of value on the table. 

A digitally capable organization requires business leadership to shift away from deep domain expertise, to a broader understanding of how value streams and processes connect, and how technology is a key enabler of those value streams. Digitally capable businesses will require business leaders to be more technically proficient, just as IT leaders have had to shift to add business acumen to their portfolio of skills and talents.  

As companies explore Digital Transformation, or even if they are already deep in transition, the more their business leaders can shift into truly embracing a concept of “Business Driven, Technology Enabled” strategies, the two critical components then become closer to a model that aligns to deliver the best strategic outcomes for the business.

Businesses that are embracing shifting to a digitally capable organization, are requiring changes to how they execute their strategies. By harnessing teams that can work across silos, they are able to drive greater enterprise value and adapt to a new emerging operating model. The newly emerging operating model focuses on connecting disparate teams, looking at processes across value streams, uplifting current skills and creating flow in the execution layers. Successfully executing in this new operating model, leaders whom embrace both business and technical acumen, can increase the velocity of executing strategy, customer value and sustaining change over time.

These new holistic business leaders, will connect to an enterprise operating model of “Business-Driven, Technology-Enabled”, to drive the business strategy and outcomes. This, then positions an agility and flow enterprise-mindset, as they move into a digitally capable business with stronger, more sustainable results. This also helps leaders discern how to fuel and enable their business and maximize value. This could also help with context on the risks, other organizational model changes, and change adoption for their teams, in order to fully gain the business outcomes they are trying to achieve. Emerging factors in this new operating model, drive conversations around: 

  • How do you support, scale and sustain as you build your organizational capability? 
  • How will the new technology be implemented and adopted, to maximize value out of the investment? 
  • How do you train, reposition and uplift your employee’s skills and talents? 
  • How do you determine who you select as partners?

Technical acumen is becoming more critical for business leaders as they make business decisions and fully maximize investment return on investment. On-going operating costs associated with supporting new digital technologies should not be overlooked. The right investment here will drive business value by unlocking all critical capabilities and ensuring system reliability. The long-established divide between business and technology is shrinking at a rapid rate, as technology becomes less of a mystery and more of the Apple and Google models of making technology simple, intuitive and friendly.

Business leaders are shifting to a mode of constantly having to improve, looking at the core business critically, staying aware of what competition is doing and pushing forward to potentially disrupt their own company by challenging convention. Although you could say all that has been a part of business since business began, what is different now is the rate at which businesses need to transform and possibly reinvent themselves. Instead of years, businesses now have seemingly months to edge ahead of the competition, and/or just remain viable. It puts pressure on leaders to understand the “art of the possible” through technology to constantly reinvent themselves which often requires them to simultaneously, continue with their profitable business, while in parallel kill it off for a better innovation that will drive long term revenue growth.

Tying this all together, success of any business, regardless of size or industry, at the core, can be tied to Leadership, Talent and Culture. This constantly evolves and shifts to meet the rapid pace of a changing marketplace. That coupled with clarity of purpose, measuring execution and performance, seem to be solid ingredients. Re-thinking your business, shifting business leader expectations to become more technically proficient and focus on scaling and sustaining the technology will help your business achieve digital transformation, by focusing on “Business Driven, Technology Enabled”. 

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