May 14

The 3 core ways to make < digital > transformation successful in 2019

Every day we hear more and more about how fast the world is changing and how businesses need to remain relevant to remain in business. This is the VUCA world we live in – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, driven by the pervasive exponentially-growing impact of technology. These are exciting times.

Many sectors and industries are going through a fundamental and on-going change in order to stay relevant, and they need to act now. Successfully implementing and embedding transformation into a company is no easy feat – however, UpSkill Digital and our global team of digital and transformation experts have been working with both large and small businesses and identified 3 key traits in any successful business transformation programme.

Core way 1  – It’s business as usual, not a  <insert buzzword ‘Digital’ > strategy

Firstly, removing the word digital really helps for several reasons- firstly the term digital is really nonsense and it is hard to find a consistent definition. Transformation is easy to define, and transformation is happening because every aspect of our world is changing quickly because of technology. It is the strategy we apply to transform, enabling businesses to ensure they are relevant and remain competitive that is critical and this becomes business as usual because it is a constant job to remain relevant.

There are 3 key stages of a successful transformation strategy:

Stage 1: Setting a clear strategic vision – and connecting this strategy with an operational rollout plan. This means a single clear vision connected to a set of goals that EVERYONE can relate to.  To do this, do the following:

  • Define success – what will you measure, why and what is the impact you expect (of course this will change!) Make this measurable at an individual, team, workforce and customer level. It is surprising how many transformation programmes do not do this!
  • Appoint dedicated doers – appoint a transformation manager who will ensure everything keeps moving across your entire organisation and is responsible for impact reporting.
  • Customer-obsessed  – how is your transformation programme making your customers lives easier?

Stage 2: Planning implementation ensures your roll-out has the following:

  • Complete transparency – your workforce, even your customers should be able to access and read your strategy.
  • A communication plan – more than making your strategy and plans available, create a clearly written, jargon-free communication plan. Communicate regularly, daily if possible. Always share and explain the impact metrics. Humanise your strategy by bringing it to life – perhaps give your transformation manager that role, but lead it from the top as well. Your C-Suite has to be actively involved and supporting.
  • Become workforce obsessed  – what do your people need to thrive, ask them and empathise when change feels hard.
  • Customer-obsessed  – how are you making your customers lives easier, what are they saying, how do they feel?

Stage 3: Business as usual – carrying on and continuing to measure the impact – at individual, team, workforce and customer level – refer back to your vision, you will need to adapt it, transformation is not a static goal.

  • Give power to the people – your customer-facing teams will provide your most valuable insight into the impact of your transformation. programme on business metrics – get this insight regularly and react.
  • Cultivate a culture of agile working from the top, by gathering insight and data to inform a build/test and learn cycles within your business.
  • Continue to be employee obsessed, using qualitative and impact data to inform decisions.
  • Continue to be customer-obsessed  – how are you continuing to make your customers lives easier?

Core way 2 – It’s all about ways of working (process and productivity)

It’s time to reframe productivity – from presenteeism to output driven. This is especially relevant when thinking about remote working conditions.

  • New working week – focused on getting tasks completed in weekly chunks, very similar to how tech start-ups run but effective in all teams and businesses. Start the beginning of each week with a planning meeting (what will we get done this week), check-in in the middle and have a ‘shipping’ meeting on Friday – what did we get done? Do this personally, and throughout the organisation.
  • Meetings – there is too much to say about meetings! But for starters, build in a strategy to assess the value of a meeting and make this the responsibility of each employee to implement. This can be simply applying a counting mechanism based on the number of times each individual contributes to a meeting (more about this in other blogs). The stats are startling but not surprising – according to business analysts, the average employee wastes 31 hours per month in unproductive and pointless meetings.
  • Online communication versus collaboration – check how your tools are being used, more often than not, the constant chatter and commentary on tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams are mistaken for collaboration.  It’s not, and it’s a distraction. Build-in time to support your workforce to improve their online collaboration and communication skills, and build this in as training within your transformation strategy. This is effectively developing the digital mindset and behaviours. Use a professional partner to deliver this training and support, the investment is worth it.
  • Conditions to thrive – lead by example and from the top  – employees need permission to take risks if they are to thrive, when trying new tools and learning new ways of working, risks are taken and failures will happen, it’s being reframing the value of risk, being allowed to fail and ensuring learnings are had and shared.

Core way 3 – It’s prioritising experience powered by tech to improve both your employee experience and customer experience – a central point to your transformation.

  • Tech-led transformation means HUMAN-centric transformation – solving problems for humans. This means leading tech decisions with design thinking and UX principles when planning new tech or assessing existing tech infrastructure.
  • Be bold – get rid of outdated and complicated legacy tech. Legacy tech can be identified as part of the root cause of transformation failures.
  • Develop your data strategy to include a people-data strategy – build in training for all employees to enable them to make good data-informed decisions.
  • Be realistic – get support with the people part of your transformation and do it from the beginning, your tech tools are only as good as the people using them.

There you go! 3 core ways to make the transformation successful in 2019, a mixture of practical and strategic recommendations, shared by our network of transformation experts.  

One more thing, we also asked for some simple next-day ways to transform, and our network suggested:

  1. Bookend your week  – On Monday, plan what you’ll achieve. On Friday, hold a ‘what we got out the door’ meeting  – review what you got done. Do this personally and for the part of the business that you are responsible for.
  2. Check-in – Get into the habit of taking a few minutes at the start of meetings or when you meet to catch up on life and ongoing projects (this allows you to do a culture and happiness temperature check).
  3. No Meetings! Block out time for no meetings, regularly. Ideally once a week. For example, make Wednesdays a no meeting day! This gives you and your team dedicated headspace for strategic thinking and getting stuff done.
  4. Change the scenery – Invest in booking regular off-site working lunches, walking meetings and longer business get-togethers. This supercharges cultural and team development, whilst a change of space increases productivity, communication, collaboration and creativity.

Call to action:

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