Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Digital Transformation - Where do you start?

Start with the capability that is most critical (customer impacting) with the largest potential impact on the success of your firm.

Organizations large or small are on the journey of digital transformation. Audacious goals are absolutely important, but "boil the ocean" approaches seldom deliver expected results. So where do you start? And what’s the logical scenario to manage digital transformation seamlessly?

Start with WHY: As every successful change program, the business transformation should follow the 'Golden Circle' starting with the WHY? (motivation), then addressing the HOW? (process) and WHAT? (results) in the end. Do not turn it around if you want to set up for success. With a focus on the arrival point, success will be contingent upon culture, the state of the business, leadership (senior and positional influencers within the business), communication, team membership (internal and external), and the overall commitment to the goal. It is about the role of the "Problem Creator." A solution is nothing if the problem is not perceived, therefore, creating the awareness of the problem is the first step to making a solution be understood and accepted. How to identify where more specifically? - through internal (SWOT) and external assessments (benchmarks/consultations/customer feedback) of your baseline position and a joint position as to where you want to arrive (interim state/end state). Transformation starts with the realization that where you are currently no longer can deliver the business objective and vision of success for your company and your shareholders. Determining what the future needs to look like (what the transformation must look like) is the next step. Having the most senior champion is critical - someone who will not only communicate what the transformation looks like and where people will fit in the new vision but also be observed as the leader who is "marching towards" that transformational vision. That's the starting point.

And then, to explore the HOW: Start with the process or capability that is most critical (customer impacting) with the largest potential impact on the success of your firm. So many want results without understanding the process. It's a travesty of wasted human and financial resources and leads to such unnecessary disillusionment and stress. Celebrate successes often and don't lose sight of the "pulse" of the organization. HR needs to play an important role to 1) Involve, 2) Engage, 3) Emerge & Evolve 4) Evaluate and 5) Embrace the change. The vision and Idea of transformation should come from the highest chair with a timeline. Each department should have clearly defined goals. It is not a one-time activity. It should be an ongoing process. The process, change assessment, etc. are all tactics to get the organization there - but it all starts with the realization that "we can't stay the same."

Know when to applaud and when to keep moving: Digital transformation is a long-term journey, it has to be clearly understood in the map's vision to satisfy both short-term gratification and long-term outcomes. Whether they admit it or not, organizations must be sensitive to the desire for their people to see immediate results, HOWEVER, this desire must be tempered by the fact that true organizational transformation takes time. Often the instant gratification culture balanced against transformational change evolution is certainly a dilemma. The strategy is not instant and yet tactics along the way can be more reinforcing if they are put into the context of the overall journey. The journey is the thing, however, the milestones need to be celebrated along the way, without making them the destination, otherwise, you delude yourselves into premature success and lose momentum and energy along the way.

Transformation is a journey rather than a destination: One issue is that organizations and people in them expect the change and the transformation to someday "be over"- it never is. If it was, the organization would simply stand still, never innovate and never make progress. The organizational journey is where the juice is in the organization, not just the destination. Destinations are for those checking in at arrivals and checking out at departures without enjoying the challenge and delight of the bit in between. Only with such understanding can timing be anticipated and incrementally/appropriately celebrated. Added to that the fact that the four basic Transformation phases 1) Denial; 2) Resistance; 3) Commitment; 4) Acceptance are not reached by team members at the same time. Eager anticipation enhances satisfaction as goals are realized, one ride at a time, one show at a time.

The key is having leadership understanding of the dynamics of Change/Transformation, and creating Change/Transformation Competency. Cognition, Resources, Motivation, Politics - the lack of, or complexity of each dynamic affect the pace of transformation and timing of subsequent progress events. Leaders must not only have the roadmap but track the journey of each person along the way. Never leave people guessing. In doing this, the Transformation Journey is enjoyable, because the ports-of-call along the way is personally rewarding. Bridging the 'gap of opportunity' between where we are and want to become is a welcomed challenge.

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