Managing Digital Transformation Initiatives
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In the recent years, the world is transforming digitally faster than organizations can adjust to, and the gap may be growing.
To continue improving capability for change, organizations and leaders should focus their efforts in several areas including operations and digital interface automation.
Firstly, they must create a sense of internal urgency. Employers and employees often fail to register the actual urgency and prefer to discuss new business lines or newer vision. As a result, the sustainability of a ‘change program’ is threatened because the driving force of ‘urgency’ is absent right from the start.
While some people do recognize the immediacy of the problem, many go deeply into denial. So, if you dig down into the organization, you discover it’s going to be difficult to sustain change through the whole process. The real key is – creating that sense of urgency throughout the ranks and profiles.
There are many effective ways of facilitating digital transformation. Organizations can pick a competent outside help, who really understands the issues and complexities involved. And then the organization should listen carefully to solutions given. The head of the organization should not then get carried away by opinions given by their confidantes.
In every transformation, the leadership must maintain momentum in the face of disruptive organizational restructurings such as layoffs or redeployments. Fear is an inherent part of change, even when you do it well. So fear will be a factor when you start to change an organization, although not necessarily for everybody or to the same degree.
You can deal with fear by sending your people the message that there is a better future, and this is the right way to get there. Every time you do something well, fear goes down because credibility goes up.
It’s the same for every step in the process. When people see it being done right, their fear level quite rationally goes down and their conviction grows that the plan can work. Skepticism on the intellectual side and fear on the emotional both go down. The probability that they will step forward to help and initiate in useful ways goes up.
People do resist change because they’re afraid. But they also resist change if they perceive that it’s being done stupidly. If you can get them to understand how they can play a constructive part, sometimes it’s amazing what happens.
Many change initiatives seem to cost too much, take too long and fail to meet their objectives. This is because the improvement initiative is ‘change-heavy’ and ‘transition-light’. Change and transition are different processes and a separate focus on each is necessary if the client is to achieve any significant progress.
Simply put; ‘change’ is a shift in the externals of any situation: a new team, new market, new product, new efficiency norms, setting up a new program etc. By contrast, ‘transition’ is the mental and emotional transformation that people must undergo to give up old arrangements and embrace new ones.
Transition has three phases: (a) Closure of old arrangements, (b) Orientation phase and (c) Adoption phase for a new beginning. Organizations need to deal with each of these phases in a focused manner or else the proposed change will just be a rearrangement of the existing methods.
In such cases, there is a tendency to start over again, add more resources at the problem, or replace the original team of consultants. In all such cases, the change exceeds the time and cost estimates and almost invariably, the change doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. We have many such examples of mergers, acquisitions, reorganizations, joint ventures or outsourcing projects that were supposed to save tons of money but failed to meet the promised P&L goals.
Managing change is very different from managing the actual transition. Change is the way things will be different, and transition is how you get people through those three phases to make the change work. Change is made up of a sequence of events, while transition is an on-going process. Change is visible and tangible, while transition is supposedly to take inside of people. Change can happen quickly, but transition takes a longer period – perhaps weeks or months or even years. Change can, and usually should be, speeded up. Transition, like any organic process, has its own natural pace. Change is all about the results that we are planning to achieve; transition is about how to manage things in the path to reach there.
Consultants who are assisting clients in their change initiatives are normally more casual about the human side of the change they are trying to bring about. They fail to recognize that new things won’t take root unless people change and change the way they have been doing things till date. Pure explanations do not encourage people to let go of old assumptions, old relationships and old metrics they are used to for getting results.
Very few consultants are experts in the entire process – knowing how to help an organization carry out a change, from first concept to final action. But consultants today very well understand that human behavior is by far the most important challenge to tackle if any change initiative must succeed. This is exactly how we, at eScalent, address digital transformation initiatives of our clients.