A five-lesson email course on offering digital services at scale — an essential marker in your organisation’s digital transformation.

A marker for an organisation’s digital maturity is the scale of digital services it offers, both externally and internally.

For example, DBS bank proudly offers its customers around 170 digital services. They proclaim: “We have made your day to day banking easy and fast by going digital. We are confident our suite of digital services will cover all your banking needs…”.

DBS Bank would not be the world’s best digital bank if offered only a handful of services now, would they?

While DBS Bank took many years to digitalise, organisations today can accelerate faster with modern service thinking and technology…


Seeing the forest for the trees.
Seeing the forest for the trees.
Photo by veeterzy on Unsplash

A five-lesson email course on thinking in systems and to use the mindset to solve today’s complex, networked problems.

We are living in a highly networked and dynamic world where everything connects to everything else.

Even as design teams, we sometimes fail to realise these broader influences, sometimes to our detriment. The Centre for Disease Control’s $44 million vaccine management system’s failure is a good example of not recognising the broader connections.

The design community is slowly recognising the need for systems thinking. An emerging discipline called ‘systemic design’ aims to do just that.

According to Wikipedia, systemic design “integrates systems thinking and human-centred design, with the intention of helping designers cope with complex design projects.”

At PebbleRoad, we’ve…


Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

The Covid-19 pandemic is showing that not only do organisations need to embrace strategic partners but also need to ensure that these partners are digitally savvy.

One of our clients in the fruit industry told us that the Covid-19 crisis is reducing their top line drastically. I was surprised and asked, “Shouldn’t it be increasing? I see people buying more fruits during this time.” The problem, it turns out is in their distributor partnerships. They’ve been relying on old-fashioned distributors that have seen their operations crippled due to the crisis.

I’ve heard many such stories in the last few weeks and they all seem to suggest that the companies with digitally savvy partners are coping with the crisis rather nicely.

As the need for taxi and…


F1 pit stop crew at work.
F1 pit stop crew at work.
Photo by gustavo Campos on Unsplash

Organisations struggling with remote work wrongly think it to be a matter of adjustment. However, there is a deeper force at play, one that goes back to our natural instincts as human beings.

Organisations are scrambling to figure out remote work during the Covid-19 pandemic. They are rushing to install apps like Zoom and Slack, sending guidelines on conducting remote meetings, and agonising over their business continuity plans.

There are two positions to take during this crisis:

  1. Treat the changes like a transient blip that will fade in a few months and look forward to business-as-usual.
  2. Look at these changes as the future of work and make plans to embrace it wholeheartedly.

We believe in the latter.

In the last few weeks, we have seen some of our clients struggle with remote work…


Including a transformation track in projects and initiatives helps surface org-level tensions that are blocking the org from adapting and progressing. The tensions offer an opportunity to the leadership team to resolve them and make real change possible.

A typical fail scenario

A bold strategy is unveiled

The leaders of an organisation realise the need to transform. They announce to the staff that there will be new projects underway that will embrace new technologies to improve operational efficiencies and customer experience. The first projects are identified.

The excitement is underway

The new projects are underway. There is a lot of excitement in the air. The teams are learning new approaches like design thinking and are trying new methods such as user testing.

The attack of the immune system

One day, the project team gets a notice from the Audit Office that their work will be audited. The Auditor sends them a template to explain their investments and…


Pebbles on the beach neatly arranged on top of each other.
Pebbles on the beach neatly arranged on top of each other.

The balanced portfolio approach to digital transformation increases your chances of success by hedging risk, building confidence and orchestrating synergies across the organisation.

“Why do we consistently miss the emergence of new industries?”

This was asked in 1999 by IBM’s then-CEO, Louis V. Gerstner Jr. He was referring to the closure of a promising initiative because it was too late in capturing market value.


A writeup of my talk at the Product Management Festival Singapore 2019, where I argue that the role of the product manager should expand to include digital transformation.

The challenge

The sponsors of the Product Management Festival (PMF) Singapore included the likes of Grab, Google, Atlassian, Facebook, AWS and Flipkart. These companies are all digital natives. Their leaders understand digital. Their people, processes and platforms all support digital-first work. The product manager (PM) in such a situation ensures that they build the right product for the right audience to deliver the right value. They know that the organisation will drive them to reach their objectives. Seems ideal, right? Now, let’s change the context. What happens to a PM working in a traditional organisation?

Traditional organisations like those in manufacturing, oil…


Many organisations make the mistake of outsourcing their core digital capabilities. Co-sourcing is a better alternative, provided you do it right.

Digital capabilities are the skills, knowledge and understanding of digital to create or consume value. For example, a bank uses its digital capabilities to create value by offering customers the ability to transact online. Customers use their digital capabilities to consume this bank’s value by checking their online account balances and making payments.

You can see how this relationship drives digital transformation. Businesses must match or exceed their customer’s appetite for digital value to compete in the marketplace.

A typical knee-jerk reaction to bridge this growing gap is to buy new IT systems. But a system is just an enabler…


Ignoring your organisation’s operating system can ruin your digital transformation efforts. Here’s what to look out for.

Digital transformation is a way for traditional organisations to stay relevant in the digital age. It is a deliberate attempt to create value by applying an evergrowing portfolio of digital technologies. However, if you are a traditional organisation and are progressing well in your digital transformation journey, then are you the same organisation?

Not quite. It is not just that you are getting better at applying digital technologies, but you are also changing your organisational operating system.

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” — Heraclitus

What is digital transformation

Maish Nichani

Principal at PebbleRoad, a design and strategy practice that specialises in sustainable digital transformation.

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