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Digital Transformation, Information Technology & Data Analytics / AI, Robotics & Automation / Generative AI / Future of Work / Company Culture / Hybrid Work & Work From Home / Emerging Technology / Strategy / Leadership / Communication Strategy / Must-Read Books


  • Paul Leonardi - The Digital Mindset...
    Paul Leonardi - The Digital Mindset...
  • The Digital Mindset: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI
    The Digital Mindset: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI
  • Why You Need a Digital Mindset: How to Use the 30% Rule to Upskill Your Career:  Paul Leonardi
    Why You Need a Digital Mindset: How to Use the 30% Rule to Upskill Your Career: Paul Leonardi
  • Why You Need A Digital Mindset Part 2: Collaboration, Computation, and Change - Paul Leonardi
    Why You Need A Digital Mindset Part 2: Collaboration, Computation, and Change - Paul Leonardi

Learn More About Paul Leonardi

Digital transformation has become much more than simply upgrading software and building a new skill set; it’s now a required state of mind, says Paul Leonardi, award-winning University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) professor and Technology Management department chair.

With hybrid work here to stay, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms increasingly deployed in business and technology constantly advancing, Leonardi’s research insights are more important than ever. With a multidisciplinary expertise at the crossroads of technology, strategy and culture, he illustrates how vital it is for leaders to ensure that they and their workers can effectively leverage the latest technology to maximize team collaboration and organizational success.

Also the director of the Ph.D. program in Organization Studies in the UCSB College of Engineering, Leonardi speaks eloquently on both the technical and sociological aspects of digital transformation. His new co-authored book, “The Digital Mindset: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI” (Harvard Business Review Press, May 2022), gives vivid examples of how employees in organizations with a good digital presence feel empowered to broadcast their work, develop a greater sense of curiosity and communicate more effectively.

“With a digital mindset,” Leonardi says, “you can ask the right questions, make smart decisions and appreciate new possibilities for a digital future, making it feel much less daunting to embrace digital transformation.”

Over the past two decades, Leonardi has consulted with organizations from across sectors about practical ways of improving communication between departments. With a focus on how technology changes the way people work, his methods include teaching leaders how to use social technologies to enhance internal knowledge sharing, structure global product development operations and manage the human aspects of new technology implementation.

Technology is Only Half the Equation; The Other Half is People

Rapid implementation of hybrid and fully remote work has also presented challenges to structuring teams that maximize the capacity for innovation. Leonardi points to relational analytics as an important part of the process. By taking into consideration the connections that exist between people, those relationships can be leveraged to maximize innovation and efficiency within a team.

“The relationships employees have with one another — together with their individual attributes — can explain their workplace performance,” says Leonardi and his co-author in their acclaimed 2018 Harvard Business Review article. “Organizational leaders can look at structural signatures in their companies’ social networks and predict how creative or effective individual employees, teams, or the organization as a whole will be.”

By zeroing in on these relationships, leaders can empower their organization’s talent to support successful and continued digital transformation, with individual contributors learning how to better support their company’s strategic changes and advance their own careers.

The 30% Rule: What You Really Need to Know About Tech

By nurturing a digital mindset, communicating effectively within teams and embracing metrics along the way, digital transformation initiatives become powerful business strategies. But a workforce can feel intimidated by new technologies and become suspicious when they’re implemented. When it comes to easing the pressure some put on themselves to try to become overnight experts, Leonardi says it’s only necessary to have a 30% fluency in a handful of technical topics to develop an effective digital mindset.

“It’s easy to forget that technologies are really just tools for problem solving,” he says. “We have to frame the implementation the right way to get employees excited and not fearful. Individuals need to have a general sense of how a technology works and the vocabulary to ask the right questions from there.” Assuring both leaders and frontline workers, Leonardi says, “you don’t need to know everything, you just need to know enough to be dangerous.”


Paul Leonardi is the Duca Family Endowed Chair in Technology Management at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) and serves as director of the Ph.D. program in Organization Studies in the College of Engineering. His research on digital transformation, remote work and social networks has led to four research-focused books and has been covered by academic publications including Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review as well as mass media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, and more.

Bi-lingual in English and spanish, Leonardi has won more than 30 awards for his research and teaching, including for his courses on digital transformation, managing innovation and the future of work. His writings have been recognized through multiple outstanding article awards from professional associations such as the Academy of Management, Strategic Management Society and the National Communication Association. In 2021, he was elected a fellow of the International Communication Association where he also received the Fredric Jablin Award for lifetime contributions to the study of organizational communication.

From 2014-2019, Leonardi served as the founding director of UCSB’s Master of Technology Management (MTM) program, a professional management program for technical leaders. Before joining UCSB, he worked at Northwestern University where he was jointly appointed across the School of Communication, the McCormick School of Engineering and the Kellogg School of Management. He received his Ph.D. in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University.

Paul Leonardi is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Paul Leonardi was last modified: November 17th, 2023 by Justin Louis

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Helping Employees Succeed with Generative AI

Lots of recent news touts the productivity-amplifying and time-saving potential of generative AI tools like ChatGPT. But the reality is that most companies are not seeing such gains. In this eye-opening presentation, University of California, Santa Barbara Professor and best-selling author Paul Leonardi outlines the unique challenges that large language models (LLMs) present, including the fact that, by the very nature of their design, they’re constantly changing. Leonardi will explain his practical STEP framework, which he developed by working with top companies that have successfully implemented GenAI to empower employees. Audiences will leave with functional insights into how to create new avenues for value creation while simultaneously improving employee experiences. Leonardi will show you how to manage the introduction of AI into your organization so that those attractive productivity numbers turn from potential into reality.

The Digital Mindset: How to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI

The digital revolution is here. It’s changing how work gets done, how industries are structured, and how people work, behave and relate to each other. To thrive in a world driven by data and powered by algorithms, we must learn to see, think and act in new ways. We need to develop a digital mindset. Drawing from his new book, “The Digital Mindset: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI,” University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Paul Leonardi discusses the skills needed for a digital mindset and new ways of thinking that will enable leaders to be productive in the digital economy. With a digital mindset, employees can leverage a 30% fluency in a handful of technical topics to ask the right questions and make smart decisions, leading to new possibilities for a digital future that can be appreciated. Leaders who adopt these approaches will be able to develop their organization’s talent to prepare their company for successful and continued digital transformation. Individual contributors will learn how to better support their company’s strategic changes and advance their own careers. Win-win.

The Science of Teams: Improve Remote and Hybrid Performance Through Better Collaboration

Technology has allowed us to work anywhere at any time. But the best ideas come when we collaborate with others. So how can a workforce collaborate when it’s also remote? What are the best ways to organize teams in a hybrid workplace while also ensuring everyone has the right tools to be productive? In this insightful talk, University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Paul Leonardi uses a combination of cutting-edge scientific evidence and examples of successful companies to outline steps that can be taken to build strong collaborations across multiple geographies, time zones and cultures, resulting in high performance and happy workers.

Overcoming Digital Exhaustion

Many employees are overwhelmed and burned out. A big part of the problem is digital exhaustion. The pressures associated with being constantly connected and having to interact with people via multiple tools simultaneously is wearing people out. In this talk, University of California Santa Barbara Professor Paul Leonardi reveals the “exhaustion triad,” the key reasons the use of digital tools is wearing people out. Then, based on his extensive research and work with companies, he outlines practical and easy-to-accomplish ways to help employees reclaim enthusiasm for their work by reducing the negative impacts of digital exhaustion and findings what he calls “digital wellbeing.”

Leading Digital Transformation

The biggest challenges to a company’s digital transformation efforts aren’t technological – they’re organizational, says University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Paul Leonardi. Technology changes the way we communicate and the way we work, disrupting the flow of information and collaboration in organizations. In this informative talk, Leonardi shows leaders how to prepare managers, employees, and customers for the digital future by leading cultural change.

How to Use Data For Good and For Growth

Many times, data is seen as just numbers on a spreadsheet. But, according to University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Paul Leonardi, by applying the right kind of data in the right way, organizations can grow while also enriching the workplace. Sometimes, issues that leaders think are technical or data issues are actually people issues that can be easily solved. In this enlightening talk, Leonardi discusses how data and analytics can be applied to create a good company culture by maximizing motivation and team identity, resulting in both personal and organizational growth. Leaders will be able to apply strategies to listen in new ways to what employees are saying, bringing together solutions that employees likely already have.

Diversity and Inclusion Metrics: How to Use Data to Meet your D&I Goals

Research shows that having a diverse workforce improves an array of organizational outcomes. But it only works if people from diverse backgrounds participate, are heard, and their ideas are included in decision making. In this talk, University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Paul Leonardi discusses why organizational programs aimed at promoting diversity fail to work because they do not tackle the harder problem of promoting inclusion. He demonstrates how companies can use increasingly available data and simple analytic techniques to ensure that efforts aimed at promoting diversity also result in inclusion. Leonardi provides practical tips that leaders can implement immediately to assess how inclusive an organization’s teams are and how to encourage better inclusions of diverse ideas.

Better People Analytics

Companies have more access than ever to data about their employees. Organizations know a lot about their traits and characteristics through people analytics. However, individual data does not give a complete picture of what is going on in a company. Now, companies can leverage relational analytics to study employee interactions and collaborations to better understand how teams will meet goals. In this insightful talk, University of California, Santa Barbara Professor Paul Leonardi shares how companies can use new relational analytics to design high performance teams, identify key influencers, increase diversity and inclusion efforts, and prevent turnover.

HBR Harvard Business Review 2022

Better People Analytics

November – December, 2018

University of California, Santa Barbara professor Paul Leonardi is a top expert on leading successful digital transformations by developing a “digital mindset.” Co-author of “The Digital Mindset: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI” (2022), he’s a trusted advisor to senior leaders looking to maximize knowledge, teamwork and efficiency among their workforce during digital transformation initiatives. Leonardi is available to discuss any or all of the following topics during one-on-one or small group advisory meetings. Each program can be customized to meet the needs and goals of your organization with the added option of meeting virtually or in person.

  • Successfully Developing a Digital Mindset
  • Leading Cultural Change to Prepare a Workforce for the Digital Future
  • Using Relational Analytics to Maximize Team Communication and Efficiency
  • How 30% Fluency in a Handful of Technical Topics is Enough to Succeed
  • How to Use Data to Meet your D&I Goals
  • Improving Performance of Hybrid and Remote Teams
  • Overcoming Digital Exhaustion

Praise for “The Digital Mindset”

"This comprehensive, plainspoken guide will be a godsend to leaders…"

Publishers Weekly

"'The Digital Mindset' is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to become a better leader, future-proof their career, or simply gain a better understanding of the present and future of business."

Mickey (Hiroshi) Mikitani, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Rakuten Group

"If you're worried that algorithms will replace our judgment, big data will make our little knowledge obsolete, or robots will steal our jobs, this book is for you. Paul Leonardi and Tsedal Neeley offer the practical insights you need to understand the next wave of digital change — and ride it smoothly."

Adam Grant, New York Times Bestselling Author, "Think Again"; Host, TED Podcast "WorkLife"

"We've all heard it a million times: You need to be more digital. Finally, here's a book that ascribes real meaning to the buzzword. With clarity and a surprising level of detail, Leonardi and Neeley prepare you for the digital future."

Shellye Archambeau, Former CEO, MetricStream; Author, "Unapologetically Ambitious"

"'The Digital Mindset' provides critical and actionable insights that make it possible for everyone — from the executive team to individual contributors—to help their company succeed in the digital era. Today's CEOs must make sure their entire workforce has a digital mindset. This book is the place to start."

Jeff Henley, Executive Vice Chairman, Oracle

"If we continue to consider the digital age as a purely technological revolution, we will miss the most significant economic, political, and behavioral disruption of our societies since the Industrial Revolution. 'The Digital Mindset' offers the 360-degree understanding necessary to seize this moment."

Elie Girard, Former CEO, Atos

"Down-to-earth and practical, this book makes digital transformation achievable to anyone."

Bill George, Senior Fellow, Harvard Business School; Bestselling Author, "Discover Your True North"

"Leonardi and Neeley have produced the indispensable, foundational playbook for leaders looking to thrive in the digital age."

Hubert Joly, Former Chairman and CEO, Best Buy; Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School; and Author, "The Heart of Business"

Praise for “Technology Choices”

"Chalk one up for people controlling technology rather than the reverse! Bailey and Leonardi's deep analysis shows that occupational norms shape how the same computer technologies can be used in different ways to design products and get work done productively. Let's hope their findings inspire other professionals and occupational gatekeepers to put technologies to work in service of economic, social, and environmental goals important to us all."

Thomas A. Kochan, George M. Bunker Professor, MIT Sloan School of Management

Praise for “Car Crashes without Cars”

"Readers of this book will think differently when they get behind the wheel of a new car. With deftness and insight, Paul Leonardi illuminates how automotive technology embodies both the choices of programmers and the routines of managers. These contrasting commitments are reconciled, more or less, in the cars we drive. This is an inspired contribution to the study of work and technology."

Walter W. Powell, Stanford University