In our first article on Key Factors for Digital Transformation success we explored how incorrect budgeting can derail any major transformation programme. In this piece we explore the issue of fear of change, or fear of the unknown and how this can potentially thwart any programme.
Whilst any major change programme will have its passionate advocates and visionaries, who will see the medium to long term benefits that the transformations can bring, there are inevitably those that are less supportive of any such change. The factors for this can be numerous, however steps can be put in place to bring people with you on any major programme.
Communication, communication, communication
Ensuring that an effective communications and engagement strategy as well as a pragmatic approach is in place from the outset is absolutely key. When information is lacking, those who are not close to the programme or those who are not the early adopters / advocates / champions, will inevitably fall back on what they know and their inbuilt experience and instincts.
Digital transformation, or any transformation programme can be seen to be very unsettling.
Therefore during the early stages of any programme, which fortunately forms a key part of our initial audit phase, time is spent with as many people as deemed appropriate across the operational front office and enabling back office, as well as building a greater understanding of how key external stakeholders perceive and value the service and capability provided. It is important to listen and build an empathetic and sympathetic view of the embedded culture – where there are specific issues, concerns and blockers, these are noted and then incorporated into what comes next. This engagement is not a nice to have, or a tick box activity, it is arguably the most important step, and must be a constant pillar throughout delivery.
Programmes have failed at the outset when they have been unable to build valued and trusted open relationships or at least less sceptical relationships across those who will be impacted by the change.
As the programme commences through its initial steps the observations noted will allow for a set of comprehensive facts and benefits to be clearly identified and documented. The communication and engagement strategy will then be able to incorporate these and provide content, briefs, sessions, fact sheets and other interactions tailored sufficiently to meet the need of the majority of stakeholders. Whilst being challenging, having an open dialogue throughout should also be a key principle from the start, so while seeing communication and engagement coming from the programme, the programme should also embrace and allow communication as well as engagement to come from those impacted. Agile, iterative digital transformation should not revert to old practices, but should accept feedback can come at any time, and when it is received the ability through the initial engagements to understand the underlying sentiment and then react appropriately will also build confidence and trust.
We fully embrace and support the numerous approaches to working with a pragmatic, appropriate communication and engagement strategy. One example method, to help dispel myths around the unknown and ensure that there is a strong, fact based, achievable vision for the future, is to fully utilise hackathons. Hackathons don’t always need to be about code breaking and manipulation, they can also focus on broader business issues and problems and can form to encourage new innovations that may also bring about real benefit for the programme. This would in turn give a degree of ownership to those involved as well as making the changes feel very tangible to all.
With our vast experience of major change programmes at Digilanti, we can help ensure that during any project an effective communications strategy is put in place from the outset and that the benefits are clearly set out and communicated to all stakeholders – internal and external. Please get in touch on the form below to discuss with us further.