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Building the Digital-First Mindset with Talent Garden’s CDO, Alessandro Braga


To connect tech talents, Talent Garden offers a unique combination of co-working campuses, internal educational institutions, and industry-driven events. In order to empower digital and tech communities, their mission is to create local, vibrant, globally connected campuses. We spoke to Talent Garden’s CDO and Author TAG Book “Digital Transformation”, Alessandro Braga about building a digital-first mindset, collaborative learning and the future of products.

What’s Inside?

  1. To Make a Change as a Chief Digital Officer
  2. A Digital-First Point of View
  3. Two Ways to Modernize I.T Systems for the Digital Era
  4. Building the Digital-First Mindset
  5. Innovation of Meaning
  6. Managing Work and Prioritizing
  7. Taking Collaborative Learning to the Next Level
  8. The Future of the Product Is in Your Hands
  9. Lessons Learned

To Make a Change as a Chief Digital Officer

Throughout my career, I have always felt like an internal entrepreneur leading the transformation of the company. As a Chief Digital Officer (CDO), I mix technical and business skills. 


To make a change, I learned that you need 3 things: dissatisfaction, vision, and a way of measuring progress.

A Digital-First Point of View

When I was studying physics at university and I decided to start programming machines to work on my behalf. It was around 1995 or 1997 and we were programming a peripheral interface controller (PIC) to run hour-long experiments for us. 


We programmed the machines to work overnight and run the tests for us remotely. We ended up learning programming, networking, and much more. This certainly showed me the hidden power of the internet. 

At a certain point, you need to make more effort to have a bigger payoff in the future. But when our programs work, it’s game-changing. You need to feel the pain at the start. This is the part when I fell in love with technology. 


In the early stages of the internet, I worked with many businesses that felt the same way. I was never asked to digitize processes but to rebuild them from a digital-first point of view. My responsibility was to enable remote maintenance and monitoring for businesses.

Two Ways to Modernize I.T Systems for the Digital Era

1. Old School

Digitizing processes is like putting cheese on pasta to make it a little better. This upgrade of technologies has happened many times throughout history. In a mature business, digital is deeply blended into. 

2. The New School Approach

This is all about building processes with a digital-first approach. Start from the customer needs and data and build the experience around it.  

I love both these approaches. Which approach is best for you depends on the state of maturity of the people and the businesses you are working with.

Building the Digital-First Mindset

If I have to improve something for the customers, I run an interview, do research and try to improve the product incrementally.

We don’t use product owners because we believe that this is still a very waterfall approach. Instead, we have developers defining requirements. This setup is called x-team: teams that are externally exposed.

Innovation of Meaning

This is the area where we provide innovative products that customers don’t expect. It’s a more radical way of innovating but potentially unlocks huge business value. 

Figure out how you can make your product work with the smallest risk. There is a book on this called Innovation of meaning which is all about changing the reason why you are doing the work.

Managing Work and Prioritizing

We generally have 3 workstreams: 

1. Incident management: things that should work but don’t.

2. Optimization: things that need to perform better, faster, and generate more return.

3. Value: things that will build new value for the people you serve. 

The questions I always ask myself are: “How can I measure the impact of what I am doing?”, “Why are we doing this?”

This is why I trained my engineering team to start every conversation with the questions: “What happens if we don’t do it?” and “Are we going to miss opportunities?” 

On one side, you are looking at companies that are striving for efficiency with the inherited skills from the past. On the other side, there are customer-centric businesses that shape around the customers. These are the businesses that blur boundaries across teams.  

Taking Collaborative Learning to the Next Level

Talent Garden is a co-learning business. We use spaces (physical, zoom, application) to train people. Today, we are the biggest player in Europe that owns physical spaces where people can learn and connect. We think of this as a new way of living, learning, and training. This is the real concept of co-learning. 

We provide people with the following things: 

1. Quality technologies, conversations, and experiences they wouldn’t be able to find elsewhere.

2. A dedicated hybrid space to meet and pursue their passion.

3. A supportive group of people who share the same values, encourage and trust themselves.

We support entrepreneurship and help them have an impact. Here is a story on building digital communities where entrepreneurship thrives.

The Future of the Product Is in Your Hands

There are times where you should improve the efficiency of your product and there are times when you just need a revolution with innovative ideas and a different vision for the future.


The approach you will select will determine if your product will be accepted and used, or just a waste of time and effort. Put users at the center of the process and listen to what they actually want, not what you think they will want.

Lessons Learned

1Find people who have a vision for the future. Let them build a prototype of the product and show it to the customer to see their reaction.
2Give customers innovative products they don’t expect.
3It’s a radical way of innovating but can unlock an immense business value. Always ask yourself how you can measure the impact of your product and why you are creating it in the first place.

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