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  • Digital Transformation as the Key to Success in the Future of Work

    Manuel Barragan, May 2023 Are you looking for ways to stay ahead in the game? Do you want to enhance the customer and employee experience while driving innovation and cost savings? If yes, then Digital Transformation is the way forward! Key facts Digital transformation is a journey that prioritises customer-centricity creating new opportunities based on data-driven insights to become more agile, efficient, and risk-savvy enabled by technology. By integrating customer and employee journey maps, organisations can improve commitment to organisational goals and create exceptional experiences for their customers and employees. However, many organisations make common mistakes in their approach to fulfilling customers' and employees' experiences. One of the most significant mistakes is assuming that a one-size-fits-all approach will work for all customers and employees. Another mistake is neglecting to listen to feedback from customers and employees. Without feedback, it's impossible to improve the experience. The Way Forward By actively listening to feedback and making necessary changes, organisations can provide exceptional experiences for their customers and employees. And one key area to focus on is collecting and analysing the voice of the customer (VOC) data. This can help businesses identify areas for improvement and develop new solutions that better meet customer needs. But, as an experienced CIO - CDO - Digital Transformation Director, I understand the challenges that Digital Transformation can pose for organisations. A recent study by Gartner found that 89% of CIOs believe that Digital Transformation is critical to their organisation's success. So, I recognize the immense benefits that Digital Transformation can bring to any organization, such as: Bookings/revenue growth Gross margin enhancements. Improve customer experience Increase efficiency Reduce costs Greater ROI Innovate faster New business models Become more agile Stay ahead of the competition and a lot more. Human First One key aspect that people do not know is that Digital Transformation is not just about technology; it's also about organisational culture and the right mindset. Investing in training and upskilling programs, creating a culture of continuous learning and experimentation, and assessing digital maturity are key steps toward successfully navigating the digital landscape and thriving in the digital age. Effective executives need to empower their people with participative management and a culture of accountability to optimize resources and actions towards higher goals. Having a strong organisational culture and data sharing are crucial factors in staying ahead in a competitive business environment. Having said that, at the heart of Digital Transformation is a people-centric approach that prioritises simplicity and automation in collecting data while focusing on business value generation, like the use of RPA, No-code low-code, and AI, which aligns perfectly with these principles and creates advanced factories with minimal human interactions. Adding other technologies like Cloud, Biometrics, and Business Intelligence, (among others) offer great opportunities for increased productivity and quality in various industries through human-robot interaction. You can create a combination of Human and Artificial Intelligence (AI) workforce that can boost innovation, improve customer and employee experience, and stay risk-savvy. And with advancements in AI technology and data processing power, AI can be a valuable tool in Digital Transformation. In the end, by fostering a collaborative team working environment, growth, development to retain talent, prioritising simplicity, and automation in data collection, organisations can drive success in the digital era. Other key points to consider Data governance is an essential part of any digital transformation journey, and having a framework in place will help organisations tailor their governance program to their specific data types and information governance disciplines. By focusing on the right industry and function-specific use cases, organisations can leverage the benefits of data analytics for increased efficiency, innovation, and improved customer and employee experiences. It's also important to choose the right data storage and analytics solution for a business, based on its existing architecture and goals for digital transformation. This emphasizes the need for a collaborative and agile approach to technology adoption and advises businesses to focus on developing organisational and technical maturity over time. And last but not least, an effective approach to simplify and organize your digital workspace is the 5S, Kaizen, and Change Management frameworks (among others). These approaches can significantly improve overall digital efficiency and reduce costs while supporting Digital Transformation efforts. Businesses that can successfully implement these initiatives will be well-positioned to succeed in the future. Conclusion It’s important not to overlook the human side of transformation, which may be an essential metric to consider to thrive in the future of work. Let's focus on humanizing change and embracing human-cantered leadership to unlock the full potential of Digital Transformation. Remember to focus on these key traits when working in a team: communication, flexibility, accountability, trust, creativity, and respect. Digital Transformation is no longer optional but necessary for organisations to remain competitive. But it is not easy. It requires a significant investment of time, money, and resources. And it requires a commitment from the entire organisation. Remember, Digital Transformation is a journey, not a destination. It is an ongoing process of change and improvement. What are your thoughts on Digital Transformation? What are some of the challenges and opportunities that you see?

  • Change Resistance and Change Fatigue: Sensible Response to Dumb Change Or Something Else?

    Barb Grant, April 2023 Introduction Lately I've been doing a range of talks to organisational change management practices about the key themes in my new book 'Change Management that Sticks'. When question time comes around there's been a predictable query EVERY - SINGLE - TIME! That question is 'what tips do you have to help me overcome change resistance?'. That got me thinking about the topic of change resistance, or as I prefer to call it in my book, 'change reaction' - as it's less loaded. My first thought when I'm asked this question is always 'change resistance - or sensible response to dumb change?' We all know the pace of change is accelerating (yada yada yada - is it a VUCA world or a BANI world?). And we do live in a mid-pandemic world. The inevitable result is that people are more stretched and much more stressed. Change is the new black but overwhelm is the new norm for many. So, in this blog post, we will explore the concept of change resistance and change fatigue, discussing whether change resistance is a real phenomenon or simply a result of poorly conceived change initiatives and a general sign o' the times (cue Prince track). We will also examine what I've labelled the three categories of change resistance and delve into the reasons for change fatigue, providing some insights on how to avoid it. I should say I was already thinking about change resistance and fatigue BEFORE I got the repeated question, as I listened to the excellent podcast interview Natasha Redman did with Gilbert Krudenier. Gilbert provocatively stated, 'there is no such thing as change fatigue', rather there's an inevitable, but understandable response, to poorly conceived change. If you haven't listened to this podcast, or any of the other excellent 'Casa de Cambio' change management podcasts go check it out here! Change resistance is a pretty natural human reaction to disruptions in established routines or environments. Generally, we find disruption annoying. Resistance can stem from various factors, including fear of the unknown, perceived threats to job security, or concerns about personal competence to adopt to the new change. We may fear loss of status and power, or maybe just money and title. In some of these cases, change resistance is justified. I've identified three distinct categories of change resistance. These are as follows: Dumb Change: This category refers to changes that are poorly conceived, inadequately planned, or not well-aligned with organisational goals. Such changes are often met with resistance, and rightly so, as they may lead to negative consequences for the organisation and its employees. Unpopular but Necessary Change: These changes may be unpopular among employees, but they are crucial for the organisation's survival or growth. For instance, cost-cutting measures or reorganizations may be met with resistance, even if they are essential for maintaining competitiveness. Change Done to People Rather Than With Them: This type of change resistance arises when employees feel that they have not been consulted or involved in the decision-making process. Even if a change is well-conceived and necessary, it may be met with resistance if employees feel excluded or unheard. Unfortunately, I've seen a fair amount of Category 1 dumb change. This is often when there's a change of senior leader. New brooms like to sweep clean. Even when the 'floor' isn't actually that dirty. Or is it that they're looking for dirt in all the WRONG places? This means the old, but sound adage, 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' is forgotten. I've seen a range of restructures, reengineering of perfectly decent processes and swapping out of one serviceable system for another unproven one, purely because a new senior leader wanted to be seen to be doing something. Worse yet of course is when a senior leader has a buddy managing some type of product and/or service provisioning company who needs a juicy contract. This change will inevitably be resisted, strenuously if the culture has observed the bogus reasons on which the change is founded. The change is poorly conceived and lacks appropriate root cause analysis to justify the transition. Tough to sell a compelling outcome on these ones! 1. Remedy for Dumb Change To remedy this one, I would urge any senior leader who takes a role in a new organisation to just sit back and observe for at least 6 months before changing anything. If it's not about a new leader, then it's time for a brutal prioritisation of all the change currently scheduled. The categories to sort the change into need to be as simple as 'continue' and 'stop'. Note that to do this well, you need a functioning view of the organisational change that shows the scale of impact, when and the teams impacted. When there's two or more significant pieces of change landing in the same team in a two-month window, it's likely you need something to move. 2. Remedy for Necessary but Unpopular Change For this one it's back to finessing the change levers with care. Leadership advocacy, and on-the-ground influencers (champions and super users) all have their part to play. And there's always stick measures to add to the carrots. I see the stick, rather than carrot side of performance management, often neglected these days. There seems to be a general unwillingness to flex the organisational muscle via legitimate negative consequence performance management measures but they can be compelling if managed appropriately. 3. Remedy for done 'to' and not 'with' change. If an organisation mistakenly believes a change manager can be brought in to 'force' a change through, then there's a fundamental confusion about the purpose, not to mention duty of care, of the change manager. My remedy on this one is to state categorically, don't hire a change manager like we're there to do the dirty work. We're not cheap, and that's because the work is intense, sometimes subtle, sometimes not, but definitely all encompassing. "We are there to set up the offers that will lead people to choose adoption for themselves." That means change recipients 'do' the change because they decide to - not because we MAKE or rather attempt to MAKE them. To get acceptance of the offer, the change must be done WITH and not TO the change recipients. Note there can be a mixture of carrot and stick incentives and disincentives in those offers - but choice to comply or not still rests with the individual. Now on to a closer examination of change fatigue. You often hear change fatigue mentioned shortly after you hear about change resistance. Usually there's a correlation drawn that there's resistance to the change, BECAUSE there's change fatigue. So, to much change has happened consecutively, and/or in quick succession for too long. Like a piece of soggy blotting paper, the environment has soaked up too much change. Now structural integrity is compromised. The organisation is beyond the tipping point of change saturation. Some other primary reasons for change fatigue include: Lack of clarity or understanding of the change initiative's purpose. Insufficient ongoing communication and engagement with employees, or the framing of messages and/or mediums is ineffective for the audience. Poorly executed change management processes and lack of on the ground support during and post transition. Constantly shifting priorities or an excessive number of simultaneous changes, all treated as separate items, rather than selling an integrated change story across the cumulative outcome. To avoid change fatigue, organisations can adopt the following strategies: Use brutal prioritisation at the senior executive level to cull down change initiatives. Have hard conversations about which ones truly align with the organisation's strategic goals and which ones don't. Make sure there's someone who can veto stalemates on whether initiatives stay or go. Have a clear commitment to do 'a few things well, rather than many things badly'. Communicate the vision and purpose of the change clearly and consistently and sell a vision of the collective outcome. Engage employees in the decision-making process and allow them to participate in shaping the change from inception. The end user should be front and centre during the root cause analysis, so you KNOW you are solving the right pain points in the right way. Ensure a well-planned and structured change management process that includes employee training and support and an embed and sustain 'tail' to the change effort post implementation. Before concluding, I have to acknowledge that most of the solutions I'm talking about here sit a long way above the pay grade of many change managers. However, in line with my views on the criticality of appropriate root cause analysis, I feel we have to go for the jugular on this one. Let's recognise where the problem fundamentally lies. That's with the senior leaders, aka change initiators, who need to initiate good change for the right reasons and goals and hold the line against competing changes that don't pass the prioritisation sniff test. Conclusion Change resistance and change fatigue are real phenomena that can hinder an organisation's ability to adapt and thrive, but before you slap on the polarising labels, be clear about what's triggering these responses. Is it dumb change? Necessary but unpopular change? Or ok change that just isn't being done well? If there is change fatigue, is that because you're over the point of change saturation, trying to do too much too quickly? To overcome these challenges, organisations must recognise the different categories of change resistance, engage employees and be really mindful about the value the change offers. Do less well, and culture will take a sigh of relief, as you foster a resilient environment that embraces meaningful adaptation and innovation. References: Armenakis, A. A., & Bedeian, A. G. (1999). Organizational change: A review of theory and research in the 1990s. Journal of Management, 25(3), 293-315. Bovey, W. H., & Hede, A. (2001). Resistance to organizational change: The role of cognitive and affective processes. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 22(8), 372-382. Dent, E. B., & Goldberg, S. G. (1999). Challenging “resistance to change”. The Journal of Applied Behavioural Science, 35(1), 25-41. Kotter, J. P. (1995). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 59-67. Lewin, K. (1947). Frontiers in group dynamics: Concept, method and reality in social science; social equilibria and social change. Human Relations, 1(1), 5-41. Oreg, S., Vakola, M., & Armenakis, A. (2011). Change recipients’ reactions to organizational change: A 60-year review of quantitative studies. The Journal of Applied Behavioural Science, 47(4), 461-524. Prosci. (2018). Best practices in change management. Retrieved from Rafferty, A. E., & Griffin, M. A. (2006). Perceptions of organizational change: A stress and coping perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91(5), 1154-1162. Schein, E. H. (1996). Kurt Lewin’s change theory in the field and in the classroom: Notes toward a model of managed learning. Systems Practice, 9(1), 27-47. Yukl, G., & Lepsinger, R. (2005). Why integrating the leading and managing roles is essential for organizational effectiveness. Organizational Dynamics, 34(4), 361-375. -------------------------------------------------------------- Barb Grant, the author, is a master change practitioner, who mentors change managers and change agents to deliver change that gets adopted and delivers meaningful results. She is the Director of Encompass Consulting, 'Bold Change' and CM2 change mentoring and author of the #1 Amazon bestselling book for change agents, 'Change Management that Sticks.' Barb is a frequent speaker on topics related to change management and the successful leadership of change. If you are a change leader, change agent, or change management practice that needs mentoring please email Barb direct at for a free no-obligation chat about your requirement.

  • How a Coach can support you in Leading Change?

    Dave Spencer, April 2023 The Friendly Coach – Executive Coaching Many leaders have a desire to change or transform a business. Often motivated by a want to be more successful or as a response to external market forces, change is seen as the way to achieve this. But what is change? And how do you know where to start? When planning for any journey it is important to understand your desired destination. What potential routes could you take? Where can you refuel or take a break? Is my vehicle fit for the journey? Leading organisational change is no different; before starting out on a change programme it is important to understand what is the purpose of the change. What do you wish to achieve and is that aligned to your purpose? For example, if a wish to increase profitability is your overall purpose, then you may consider changes to the following to achieve that: Outputs Costs Customer relationships Quality of product/service Efficiency of processes An organisation is far more complex than planning a car journey and none of the above will exist in isolation. Changes in one will result in change(s) in another or elsewhere within your organisations system. Recognition of this in advance is important and demonstrates a full diagnosis of your organisation is required so that any changes are informed and aligned across the system as best they can be. Each organisation is unique but consideration of the following will provide a good level of data for your organisational diagnosis: Structure Processes (internal and those reaching out to customers and suppliers) Strategy Performance data Personnel and the knowledge/skills they have Equipment Relationships (internally and externally) Values Organisational cultural influences Behaviours of staff Leadership style Consideration of how the data is collected and analysed is important. Who is the right person to complete this task? As leader you may wish to be involved or direct it to an internal project manager. This is perfectly acceptable but you may want to reflect on how, as part of the organisation, impartial you (or your project manager) is in interpreting the collected data? For a comprehensive diagnosis you may want a broad spectrum of views from all levels/areas of your organisation as well as customers or suppliers. Other peoples perception of you and your position may influence how open and honest they are with you. This can contaminate the data within your diagnosis. Working with a coach can provide that independence and so much more. Nobody knows your organisation better than you and your staff so a coach won’t come in and tell you what to do. The coaches’ role is to help facilitate your thinking so that the changes you plan are yours; they recognise the nuances and particular ways your organisation works so are more easily embraced and adopted. As they are your plans you’ll have a string sense of ownership for them with a deeper level of commitment to ensure effective implementation. So, what will the coach be doing? They will be listening to you. What you say? What you don’t say? What assumptions you are making? What you are avoiding? They will challenge you (and this may be uncomfortable), stretch your thinking so your understanding widens and support you create the change plans that fit your organisation. The benefits to you are not just the production of an effective change plan, but having experienced the opportunity to think deeper and increase your understanding of your organisation you are better equipped to lead ongoing development. An often overlooked aspect of leading change is the support leaders should provide to their staff in adjusting to and adopting practices to align with the changes. Working with a coach can similarly help you understand your staffs needs and how you can provide them with the necessary support. Additionally, your coach could work directly with your senior managers, teams or other individuals to directly provide that support as they adapt. A final component that is often overlooked is that change isn’t completed on the go live day. Often, snags emerge that need overcoming and staff may need support in developing and maintaining the new practices. Working with a coach to answer questions such as, ‘ What is working? What is not working? What should we do more of? What should we stop doing? What can we adjust?’ a coach can support you and your staff incrementally improve that work for you ensuring the desired changes are implemented and sustainable. This in turn can lead to the cultural development of continuous improvement and innovation. Dave Spencer is a Director at The Friendly Coach Ltd and has many years coaching and organisational development experience. If you would like an informal chat to discuss your situation please contact him via email Dave Spencer The Friendly Coach Limited

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