Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Overcome Barriers to Accelerate Transformative Changes

Many changes especially business transformation is difficult, you have to overcome barriers, remove roadblocks, avoid pitfalls, get out of the comfort zones, and ride above the change curves.

Digital Transformation, like the computer technology revolution itself, is a long journey on the bumpy road with ups and downs, risks and rewards. It is a strategic imperative to diagnose crucial issues in those change laggard organizations, avoid all sorts of barriers and pitfalls on the way and take an overarching approach to integrate both hard and soft business elements into the long-term organizational change competency.

There are silos, egos, and empires to consider in change lagging organizations: Today's organizations are complex systems and subsystems. It can have many other stakeholders and their egos, personal agendas, etc. Silo leads to small thinking. Unhealthy ego - an inflated, pompous, selfish drive that fights to win at all costs causes misjudgment. Silo or egotism further creates blind spots and leads to self-centered ineffective decision-making.

From a business management perspective, regardless of function, many business managers who have been in a position for a longer period of time, are afraid to know the "actual state" - this goes for all organizations and will cloud vision, trigger poor judgment and lead business stagnation. It is so much easier to look at what someone else may need to change than to look inward. It’s important to bring the outlier’s perspective, also if necessary, change the game rules you usually apply. The new environment is a context in which sharing and cooperating are the usual ways of working to accomplish a common purpose (goal, objective, task, and higher, a vision) and accelerate the speed of changes.

To breakdown silos and manage ego skillfully, it’s critical to challenge, debate, and initiate dynamic and respectful dialogue to broaden perspectives and close blindspots in strategic change management. If there is a conflict inherent in serving both individual business functions and the enterprise as a whole, as a rationalization in many cases serves the enterprise at the cost of specific functions. Cutting out waste such as shrinking the gap between different business functions could make a significant contribution to accelerating changes, and the sooner it starts, the better it will be for all involved.

There are “hard barriers” such as weak process links, decision bottlenecks, outdated procedures, etc, which are all detractors to stifle changes: Most of the organizations across vertical sectors today are process and control driven, those processes become inflexible and stifle changes; they have overly rigid organizational hierarchy and outdated procedure, their business is still the sum of pieces rather than a holistic whole. Many teams operate with an incomplete and relative small view of the business and take linear management discipline which further causes decision bottlenecks, stifle innovation, and decelerate change speed.

The duplication of efforts led by the control-driven management approach results in wasting valuable resources and time and decrease productivity. To keep information flow, and thus, business flow across its ecosystem, it is the management's job to break down old school of “command and control” style, leverage emerging technologies, efficient apps, and tools to lubricate processes, flatter business hierarchies, allow people across the business ecosystem to share knowledge for solving problems and overcoming common challenges by enforcing cross-functional communication and collaboration. Transparency is the key to allow the organization to keep evolved and invested in a greater purpose or vision.

There are “soft barriers such as communication gaps, internal politics, bureaucracies, or finger-pointing cultures, etc: “The lost in Translation” could happen at any level of the organization; for example, if people at the bottom and middle level don’t get the opportunity to understand the business's strategic goals via effective communication. Communication gaps decrease productivity, stifle change, cause mistrust, and decelerate the business speed.

Miscommunication is often caused by perception gaps because people have different knowledge bases and cognitive understanding to articulate things. Even worse, when communication leads to rumor, blame or finger-pointing, it’s gone to the vicious cycle of internal politics, bureaucracies, or unhealthy competition, and lead to the state of distrust, disengagement, and disempowerment. When the leader isn't holding others accountable, the team can become fragmented, unappreciated and quickly dysfunctional.

Avoiding these patterns begins with a belief and understanding behaviors have ripple effects and that we all tend to be drawn into situations that force us to learn and grow, and add enough value to benefit both the business and the employees’ well-being. The good leaders focus on solutions, not on blame. Communication effectiveness can be improved when the hard barriers are broken down and soft obstacles are overcome. Developing a culture of accountability is the key to build strong teams and accelerate business performance.

Change is inevitable, and the speed of change is increasing. Many changes especially business transformation is difficult, you have to overcome barriers, remove roadblocks, avoid pitfalls, get out of the comfort zones, and ride above the change curves. High mature digital organizations demonstrate high-level change competency.


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