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Before transformation can take place, employees and stakeholders must be dissatisfied with the status quo.
People need to feel a loss of confidence in themselves and the organization and believe that things should—and could—be done some other way.
In other words, dissatisfaction provides the impetus for change.
You may already know the benefits that come with Digital Transformation. But not everyone sees things the same way in your organization.
And so you need the right tools and techniques to convince them. I’m about to share three secrets that would help you convince and rally people behind the digital transformation effort.
Why do people stick to the status quo?
Most people are happy with the power and the privileges they get at the job today. And they’re not ready to let go for something uncertain you may be promising about the future.
The company may even be in good shape today. Delivering great profits, and receiving praises from analysts.
And one thing is that people worked so hard for years for your organization to become what it is today. So people will have good reason to resist any major transformation that may erase traces of their hard work.
At the same time, there may be clear signs showing the company can do better. Maybe the current product development process is too slow, or customer service is poor.
So how can you help people to realize in the need for transformation? How can you bring them to believe and get onboard for a better future?
Over the years I’ve helped companies to overcome this status quo. And I’m about to show you the four things you can do to build momentum for digital transformation in your organization.
1. Use data to create urgency
Data holds insights about the reality of your organization. And this goes beyond what people may be preaching about how business is performing.
Run surveys and show what customers are saying about products and services.
And also check on social media.
- What do customers say about the experience they have with your products and services?
- Are some customer complaints traced back to internal bottlenecks that are slowing down the fulfillment of customer requests?
- What about financial performance relative to competitors?
- Are there new startups trying to serve some segments of your customer base?
- Are there regulatory changes that are likely to reshape your market or industry
And so on.
Data on testimonials from customers is such a powerful tool because no one disproves it.
You don’t just need to highlight the problems.
To get people to believe, you must show that the benefits of digital transformation will outweigh the perceived costs and losses it may bring.
Important caveat! Make sure your data sources are credible and trusted internally. You don’t want your efforts to be discredited so early. Rest assured, they’ll ask where you got all the data, before believing what you have to say.
2. Show an image of the future
Showing what the data says about the company’s situation is just step one.
And it’s not sufficient to generate the momentum you need for people to come on board.
People need to know how the future will look like. They need to know how jobs will change.
- What will change in the organization’s structure and strategy?
- What will change with the management style and information systems? How will people communicate?
- Which values and behaviors will be acceptable, and which ones will be unacceptable?
- Which skills will be relevant to the new organization?
- What will change about jobs? Will the organization renew the workforce?
In fact you need to help people envision a clear image of the future.
And it helps to go even further than this.
In most organizations that I helped to overcome this challenge, we’ve always found very useful to show a model organization that mimics what the future may look like.
And this helps people to visualize some benefits and costs of digital transformation.
One last thing, do not allow people to connect the dots on their own. Be as explicit as possible. If not, they will likely form their own images of the future based on what they know. And this may not be good for the transformation effort.
3. Justify with a business case
This boils down to quantifying the benefits of that future, and the costs to reach there.
This is especially for the executive and board.
By costs, I mean both direct costs, and the cost of alternatives that people will have to forego – the opportunity costs.
Make it easy for leaders to make the trade-off, in financial terms. Evaluate how profitable the future organization will be compared to the present.
Benchmark with a similar companies that has gone through successful transformation. They’ll likely be in different markets, even different industries.
Also work together with finance to align the business case with the organization’s budgeting policies.
4. Create new incentives for behavior change
You’ve given people an idea of how things will look in the future organization.
And you’ve even convinced the board with a solid business case.
However, when it will come to the phase where people are expected to change behaviors, you may be surprised that the same people that applauded during meetings are not willing to abandon their old ways of working.
New ways of working will require new competences, while making others obsolete and this is likely to provoke fear and resistance.
One of the ways you can encourage behavior change is to create incentives in line with the new behaviors you want people to adopt.
Do you want the IT and business teams to collaborate and work as a single team? Then you may consider creating new evaluation criteria that will incentivize them to collaborate.
People will likely focus on the few key performance indicators that they hope will give them short term benefits, like bonus.
So you need to ensure the criteria for evaluation are known and in line with new behaviors you want people to adopt.
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