9 Ways to Stop a Digital Transformation from Going Off the Rails

by | Aug 26, 2020

Many company leaders will put a lot of pressure on their people to change rapidly when economic, market, or industry conditions shift on a dime. Unfortunately, these types of reactive management moves often result in solutions and decisions that don’t adequately consider the implications for the company as a whole, over the long-term.  Right now, we’ve been seeing this situation play out with organizations’ responses to Covid-19 and their sudden prioritization of workfromanywhere modalities and digital transformations.  In some highly siloed companies, we’ve seen this rush actually exacerbate siloed separations—which represent the opposite of flexibility and collaboration. Silos mean people approach work challenges from vastly different perspectives. Absent a galvanizing force to bring everyone onto the same page, moving a siloed company to a work-from-anywhere, decentralized work posture can thicken those silo walls and create new ones where none previously existed. We’ve seen it happen…  That’s why it’s important to work with a partner that deeply understands the relationship between business goals, business processes, and business technology—yes, someone like us. However, in lieu of us not sitting across a table from you right now to discuss your digital transformation and work-from-anywhere needs and wants, here are a few tips to help set the stage for these changes. 

Tips to Ensure Your Digital Transformation Stays on Track 

  1. Take inventory of your people and goalsThe first order of business in prepping your organization for a digital transformation and long-term remote working is to take inventory of your talent, skill sets, and capabilities. In other words, make sure you know who you collectively are. Next, find alignment. Overlay the visions of key stakeholders and make note of overlapping expectations and unique aspects of each stakeholder’s goals. After that, formalize your understandings into a plan and highlight areas where a strategic partner can fill in the gaps. Then, communicate this plan to the entire organization in a way that underscores the importance of the initiative.
  2. Manage expectationsIt’s tough to manage expectations when it comes to ROI for a digital transformation. Executives wanted ROI yesterday. So, establish objectives at the outset that can be easily achieved to create immediate impact. Quick and easy wins demonstrate value and progress early, which generates more buy-in and enthusiasm from your organization, and this coalescence will help you achieve more difficult objectives. There’s no better friend to a long-term, transformative initiative than a cheerleader with team spirit!
  3. Don’t be afraid to reset goals when progress stalls. Many factors can cause a once-promising digital transformation initiative to fall off the rails. It’s important to recognize this occurrence when it happens, and hit the reset button on your goals and/or expectations.
  4. Focus on your customersCustomer-centricity is key. Make sure everyone understands what your customers need from you. Then, make sure your company continues to be flexible enough to respond to those issues.
  5. Establish clear milestonesBreak down a large digital transformation initiative into bite-sized milestones and work towards them with a nimble mindset. This way, you can minimize the shock of changes and impact of hurdles on your timelines and budget.
  6. Consider making complementary organizational changesPeople and processes are at the heart of what makes a company run AND what makes digital transformation project successful. If you’re encountering resistance in your digital transformation initiative, it might be time to shift focus back to your people and processes and ensure the assumptions you made about them are correct.
  7. Empower employees to experiment and learnLeaders should seek to empower employees to experiment, fail, and learn. This is the path to further innovation—and more natural than forced change dictated from on high.
  8. Deliver no-fluff internal messaging about a project’s value. Numbers and trends speak louder than opinions. It is essential to be crystal-clear about why a digital transformation is needed and the benefits it will bring to your people.
  9. Don’t try to do too much, too fast…and remember why you started. Don’t overexert your resources in the pursuit of arbitrary deadlines—that doesn’t usually end well—and keep an eye on your original plan, strategy, and goalsEven if priorities shift some during the transformation work, your original motivation should be a landmark to keep you keep your bearing in a sea of change.