By: Kate Parsons
As this era of digital disruption changes business as we know it, companies are pushing for new ways of working, new insights, altering innovations, and customer loyalty. These imperatives are often spearheaded by leaders in the organization who understand the criticality of staying relevant. Companies have created digital organizations, named digital leaders, and embarked on digital initiatives to deliver much needed results. The pace of change requires companies to act quickly; faster than they’ve historically had to deliver. Gone are the days of massive multi-year programs aimed at delivering results in a big bang approach. Companies don’t have time to wait, and often the needs are changing dynamically. Leaders want to see results quickly, and as such teams are finding new ways of working. Agile, devops, cloud native applications, and automation are just a few examples of improvements we work with clients to implement to help them improve the speed of delivery.
However, we have seen the desire to move quickly cause companies to cut corners, impacting their ability to effectively deliver. While embracing new ways of working and driving for a faster pace, it is critically important to keep these five things in mind to ensure you see digital transformational results.
1. The Purpose Matters
Embracing a culture of innovation and change is critical in this digital world, but can be an obstacle as undoubtedly not everyone sees the issue with ‘status quo’. The burning platform for change may seem obvious to some, but effectively defining the purpose and need for change is crucial. It is important to be able to clearly articulate the challenge, the vision and how to get there. The message should be simple to understand, repeated often, and aligned to the company’s key objectives. People need to understand why the company is moving in this direction, what is being done to enable the direction, and how the effort will be supported to ensure success. Once the purpose and vision are clear, you can gain buy-in and mobilize the right efforts. Without this, driving change is an uphill battle.
2. You need the Chiefs and the Indians…
A clearly laid vision is a great start, but without the right commitment to the efforts, they will not be successful. Ensure there is clear executive sponsorship, and commitment from the other leaders. Make these efforts a priority for the company and impacted organizations. To succeed, consider how organizational objectives, goals, measures and even compensation tie to the successful execution of your digital efforts. Organizations also need to assess whether they have the right talent internally to drive the change. You need leaders and team members who are innovative, who can think outside the box, who are not afraid to fail and learn from it, and who know how to collaborate effectively with other team members to drive results. This digital era requires new skills which need to be developed or procured. If you don’t have enough of these people in your organization, hire additional resources with relevant experience and skills. Leaving efforts to the talent you have; versus the talent you need will greatly hinder progress.
3. Communicating effectively is not a monthly newsletter
It’s important to consistently reiterate the importance of the effort. This can be done in the usual ways, of town halls and newsletters; but it needs to go beyond this. Leaders need to make the imperative part of their charter. They need to link the effort to day to day work. Leaders also need to “walk the talk”. They should be embracing the new changes and reinforce key points at every opportunity. Driving culture change, which is often required, takes dedication. Leaders should take the leap and start operating in new ways to demonstrate commitment to the vision. When talking about recent results, or next quarters goals, be sure to weave in the criticality of the digital transformational efforts. Create forums where users can learn more, ask questions and chat about progress. Weaving the digital or transformational agenda into everyday operations will help make it real, and accelerate results.
4. Tackle the elephants early
No one ever said change was easy. There are always obstacles or challenges encountered along the way. The ability to quickly address and tackle these obstacles will accelerate the path to results. Create an environment where team members are not afraid to raise these issues, and where leadership provides commitment to address the challenges. Perhaps legacy processes are too burdensome, perhaps it’s challenging to secure the right talent, or certain organizations want to stay in their silos. These roadblocks need to be cleared quickly, so it’s important to create an environment where these issues are raised, discussed, and actioned. Leaders can’t fix what they don’t know. Once raised, these issues need to be dispositioned appropriately, so the team stays focused on forward progress not stuck in a myriad of workarounds.
5. Failure can be a powerful lesson
Celebrate progress along the way. Change takes time. Create a plan with interim milestones and celebrate the victories. Show praise to the team and take credit for results. But there will be failures as well. These should not be feared; they should be learning opportunities. It’s important to create an environment where people are empowered to fail quickly and learn from it. Moving quickly has challenges and it won’t be perfect. Celebrate the wins, reflect on the learnings and continue motivating the team towards the vision.
This digital era is both exciting and daunting. Embracing this new world involves taking some risks and making some bets. In the drive for speed, we encourage companies to embrace these time proven best practices to improve their chances for success!