We have made majors steps over the past few weeks, going from the inception of your first digital initiative to the implementation of you Digital Vision, its phases and roadmap. And even more importantly, you have started managing change by onboarding your CEO and executives, along with your CTO – as a key partner in this ambitious project.
As CDO, or equivalent, you are no longer a lonely dancer as I explained in my post: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cdo-i-want-useless-3-years-thierry-derungs?trk=mp-author-card
At this point, your dance floor is starting to fill up, yet there is still space for many more dancers: it is time to open your digital party to the crowds.
Your company is now committed to entering into the digital world and you’ve even begun to communicate to company employees on all the positive aspects of the changes that are happening. But these are just words… not enough to overcome fears or resistance to change.
It is now time to onboard all employees and your change management program is your new focus.
Create your community
As said previously, I am convinced that the business must lead the Digital Transformation process. In my post last week, you saw how much IT matters and why they must be your key partner.
To truly transform your company’s mindset, organisation and commercial approach, you need a committed and active group of people from the business: your Digital Community.
An efficient Digital Community is a subtle medley:
- You must find the right mix of people from marketing, communications (i.e. brand managers) and front representatives. Having people from the front is crucial as they have the day-to-day client knowledge and, even more importantly, they provide tangible credibility to the fact that you project is client focused.
- You build your community to help you effectively lead this transformation, not to have academic discussions.
In few words, you are looking for operational leaders: they do themselves (with their team) what they say, and they are mutually responsible for this change.
Your Digital Community must work on a highly collaborative model and be in charge of the Digital Transformation while you are accountable. Its mission must start together with yours and you must involve this core team to define the vision, validate the roadmap and conceive your change management program.
Employees as ambassadors
Going “Digital” is expected by everyone within a company. Whether it is with fear or eagerness, all employees are waiting for the change to happen.
At the same time, they want (at variable degrees) to be proud of their company, while also benefiting from an enjoyable, pleasant working environment and contributing to its sustainability and future. In order to successfully onboard all of them, you must demonstrate that Digital Transformation will do exactly that. In other words… show what’s in it for them.
Your change management must be based on 2 main enablers:
- Your phased Digital Vision is your story telling.
All your communications and change actions must be connected together through a logic and coherent story, starting from the “Once upon a time…” to the “they lived happily ever after”.
- Your Digital Roadmap will deliver a plethora of digital initiatives, each of which will have a positive impact.
Your digital fairy tale can, of course, include some naughty witches and some tense times, nevertheless, it must be full of fun times and lead to a happy ending. Please do not misunderstand me… My purpose is not to say that everything is fine and perfect when the city is burning. Your Digital Transformation must deliver added value at each step of the way and your change management program will highlight the “What’s in for me” while teaching how to make the most of it.
On-boarding employees is much easier when you have a clear direction and coherent steps. Once step A is achieved, it must be crystal clear to your employees that step B is the most logical way to go next.
You have now conceived a perfect roadmap to deliver a series of initiatives over the course of several years. Even for the most enjoyable solution and for the most open-minded employee, change is disturbing and requires some effort.
If you treat each delivery individually when it comes to your action plan, quite fast, you will exhaust your employees. It is fundamental to coordinate and consolidate all change actions into a single and coherent change management program.
It will save time and efforts for all, and help keep the project focused on its ultimate goal.
I would give you some generic advice:
- List and evaluate all change actions required by the initiatives delivered at or around the same time. As much as possible, group similar change actions to build a single one.
- For each delivery, consider the previous one and for the future ones avoid repeating similar change actions. In which case, the first delivery will most probably drive the change, limiting change actions to reminders for the next ones.
- Include a change sum up when you accomplish a phase on the path to your Digital Vision.
- Target your change management program and adapt it to different employees’ profiles.
Digital requires finding different ways of working on projects. In the previous weeks, I already mentioned how the Agile method could transform the business’ way of working.
Digital also requires finding new ways to execute your change management program… You want to teach digital? Use digital!
eLearning, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses allow people to join virtual classrooms), webinars, gamification (learning through games), forums… There are plenty of new digital ways to teach, explain and put into practice.
Using them will significantly leverage the efficiency of your change management as teaching differently will attract your students’ attention.
But… there is a but. To take advantage of new digital ways of teaching, it will require additional effort, so you must include it in you roadmap and manage it carefully. Keep in mind, all the time that is invested in the quality of your change management program is key for the successful digital adoption in your company.
Building an eLearning module is not taking your current Powerpoint presentation on your intranet and adding a multiple choice test at the end. For my own program, I bought a brilliant and easy to use eLearning tool. Before building our very first eLearning module, I organised the training: 2 days on how to conceive efficient eLearning and only 1 day on how to use the tool.
These new ways of learning require some investment and are part of your digital initiatives.
Last, but not least, do not jump from one extreme to another. Try to find a happy medium between classic ex cathedra communications and trainings, and digital modules.
Be clear and transparent
You must provide a clear view not only about the Digital Vision itself, but also about your roadmap and your change management program.
I truly understand that it is uncomfortable to announce dates and plans when there are uncertainties, however, your employees must have a clear and transparent view on all the steps along the path. Otherwise, it could be difficult to keep and to communicate about your story.
Explaining delays, issues and failures must be part of your change management program.
Everybody can understand why something is delayed – or not possible, if you communicate openly and clearly.
Celebrate success and highlight the stakeholders.
Learn from issues and failures. A positive attitude towards failure is the best to conquer fears and to keep your credibility.
Your consistent change management program is launched and your Digital Transformation delivers more and more initiatives. Your company is entering step-by-step into the digital era.
But digital is not a faithful wife or husband… Competition is raging around you and the market is changing fast.
To remain in the digital race, you must have innovation and creativity at the heart of your transformation. See you next week.