First published

Sep 21, 2019

Time to read


The technology doesn't matter, people do

Often heard client challenge sentences we hear begin with “why should we spend more (time, money etc) on tech…” often ending with tales of disappointment, waste and even risk worries.

Our starting point for every such journey is (i) people, and (ii) it doesn't matter where the client is on their journey.

So, why is the “why should we spend more on tech…” issue so common? Fundamentally, it’s because most digital technologies provide possibilities for more efficiency and more customers. But if people are not yet ready for the change and the current organisational set up is not joined up, new technology will simply create issues.

Some common insights and cautionary tales have helped us successfully lead many clients - from small companies, not-for-profits and corporates - though the fog to better futures.

Let's figure out your strategy before you invest in anything.

Can it be that straightforward? Well, yes actually! Having arrived at so many clients that had jumped onto a specific tool, either as a result of good sales people or a notion that they were stuck on, we know strategy is crucial.

Not the binder-of-stuff that ends up being put away till next time, digital transformation should be guided by a broader strategy. Starting with what (your) people need, then assessing the situation and finally where to focus your attention.

Leverage your people, always.

We now work with a lot of clients that originally approached transformations (digital and otherwise) by frequently bringing in consultants, who tend to apply one-size-fits-all solutions in the name of “best practices.”

We rely instead on insiders - staff who have intimate knowledge about what works and what doesn’t in their daily roles.

Design user experiences from the outside in.

If your goals include improving efficiency, satisfaction, relationships and growth, then any effort must include input from your customers.

All this digital new world system stuff has been designed that way, if you can’t see value, right out to the people who give you money, you’re probably looking at an outmoded system.

Recognise people's fear of being replaced.

When people perceive that digital transformation could threaten their jobs, they may consciously or unconsciously resist the changes. Worse, tragedy can kick in fast if the transformation turns out to be ineffective. We’ve encountered this at various stages, it’s not easy to fix.

Our ‘inside-out’ approach with people is the antidote, we speak with people to capture what their unique contributions are, and then connect those strengths to components of the new process - which they will then own, if at all possible.

This gives people control over how the transformation will unfold, and frames new technologies as a means for your people to become even better at what they were already great at doing.

Shrink the change to change the story.

Our project approach is about agile decision making, rapid prototyping and as flat a structure as possible. The process of digital transformation is inherently uncertain: changes need to be made provisionally and then adjusted; decisions need to be made quickly; and people from all over your organisation need to get involved.

This need for agility is even more pronounced than it might be in other change-management initiatives because so many digital technologies can be customised. Often, the payoff only occurs after a substantial portion of a client organisation has switched to the new system.

Digital transformation has worked best for our clients who went back to the fundamentals: we helped them focus on changing the mindset of their people, organisational culture and processes before they decided what digital tools to use and how to use them.

What their people mapped to be the future of the organisation drove the technology, not the other way around.

By the way, we haven't even mentioned a technology product or solution.

Food for thought.

Post by Kevin Lawless

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