Sunday, January 8, 2017

How to Overcome Barriers in Digital Transformation

Change practitioners need to have good critical thinking skills, high level of adaptability, communication and engagement skills, as well as changeability to walk the talk.

Organizations large and small are on the journey of the digital transformation. Transformation is the leapfrogging changes, and it is structural. Change is functional. Both are manageable. However, more than two-thirds of the Change Management initiatives fail to achieve the expected business results. There are many roadblocks and numerous pitfalls on the way. More specifically, what are the barriers and how to overcome them in order to manage change and digital transformation seamlessly?


Lack of leadership vision: Lack of the clear vision is one of the biggest roadblocks on the business transformation journey. Leadership vision is to be the guiding light for the change management, to clarify the very reason - WHY do you want to change, and the WHAT the “destination” look like. Being a leader means giving people confidence on where to go and how to get there, motivating them and also stretching them to live to their full potential, both individually and as members of a high performing team. Transformation is the change, but on a grand level, at the level of the system, differentiate in terms of the end result on a systemic level. Leadership vision is to serve as an enabler, being coherent with their organization's vision. An organization needs to be prepared to effectively and efficiently absorb and accept change in all its forms. By taking the systematic approach, the digital transformation can take the pace steadily in an organization in which change does not disrupt and interfere with the business as usual; for which the ability to evolve, adapt and innovate is business as usual.


Fear of the unknown; fear of failures; and the blind spots on the way: Be cognizant of unknown. Organizational change is always difficult, and many organizations have the symptoms of “change fatigue” -too many change effort, but lack of vision and passion. Complacency - Leaders often miss the big picture and become complacent! Comfort with the status quo. Hence, communication is important to let people figure out “What’s in Me.” The better way the communication is going and the easier change may become. It is also important to build the culture of learning and risk tolerance and keep the opportunity open for defining and leveraging current strengths during the change process. Future, Most teams operate with an incomplete and relatively small view of the world. Thus, too often in an effort to keep moving forward, the blind spots cloud their vision and they jump to the wrong conclusions. The blind spots, either strategic one or operational one, are perhaps inevitable. So as the change leader,  you have to be humble to realize there are many things you know you don’t know and perhaps even more which you don't know what you don't know. Until that happens, you will continue on the lives in blindness. Continue to see the importance of dealing with blind spots by learning how to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, be hungry for the insight and be skillful to frame the right questions and behold to the metrics.


Silo thinking and unhealthy internal competitions: If the majority of organizations at the industrial age are manipulated by silo thinking and hierarchical style, which often cause unhealthy internal competitions for limited resources; with silo mentality, organizations lose their collaborative advantage as they are being over managed and under led, remain disconnected, hoard knowledge and power within silos, have change inertia, and do not have the competence to collaborate in the long term. But nowadays, digital means increasing speed of changes, holism, and interconnectivity. Building an evolving digital organization is to advocate the concept of “business as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces.” It’s important for leaders and managers about learning how to think the systemic wholeness, in terms of how to break down silos between subcultures, shared goals. Change is the team effort, encourage all employees to provide feedback, ask questions, and participate change proactively, to expand their view of the business and gain a holistic understanding of changes. It is imperative that we be willing to seek out help, break down silos, and harness cross-functional collaborations as we work to generate new ideas or solve problems.


Change too slowly or too costly: Change is expensive and too slowly will cause the business losing the growth opportunity or get hit by the risks which could be avoided if the change happens timely. “Changeability” becomes an important measure to assess a person or a business’s potential, agility, and maturity. Unfortunately, change is not as easy as it sounds, and change is costly. Change Management in many organizations seems to be at the crossroad. Many times, teams have worked very hard to refine the processes involved with an initiative, but if change mechanism is not embedded into the holistic business management, or change is managed as the other layer of workload or an isolated effort, it could be too costly or drag down the productivity and lose the focus. The point is Change Management needs to always go hand in hand with strategy management, program, project management or talent management, with a clear business purpose and focus on getting it sustainable.


The “comfort zone”: People respond in different ways to different situations. It is important to understand the psychology behind the changes and help people “moving out of their comfort zone," which can be used at all levels and as a starting point for change. There is so much psychology in openness to new ideas and perspectives: There is not a one size fits all approach to addressing the different psychological responses to changes, and thereby reducing anxiety because there are different psychological perspectives. For example, there are those who think logically, others focus bigger picture, and others are a lot more emotional in their decision-making. It takes slightly different approaches, timescales, and skills to unlock the anxiety. Hence, change practitioners need to have good critical thinking skills, high level of adaptability, communication and engagement skills, as well as changeability to walk the talk.



Digital transformation is a strategic imperative, and change is inevitable. The more transparent about a change effort, the less uncertainty there will be about the effort. To clear the path to change, whether that be the elimination of obstacles or to provide coaching and guidance, change leaders need to have a clear vision, the comprehensive planning, the robust, but not overly rigid process, and the motivational change agents, to make change fun and sustainable, so that the talent employees are limited only by their imagination.


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