A Successful Digital Transformation Is Only Possible Through Effective Organizational Leadership

by | Dec 1, 2019

I recently came across this quote on LinkedIn: “The most dangerous phrase in the English language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’”

The statement is attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, a US Naval Officer, serving from 1943 to 1986. She was an early computer programmer, and also the first to say, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission,” which I may have stolen a time or two.

She was very quotable! Here’s another: “You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership.”

A huge aspect of leadership is knowing when to challenge the status quo…and then actually doing it. I’m not talking about change for change’s sake, but change as thoughtful steps toward an envisioned future. The ability to envision that future? That’s also another major aspect of effective leadership.

How We Guide the Process of Digital Transformation to Create a Purposeful Evolution

We help our clients consider their own purposeful evolution. We help them figure out how they must change to become their envisioned version of themselves. We challenge them and guide them in turning their focus inward and examining how they do things objectively. Specifically, we focus on back-office functions—non-revenue/non-customer focused activities that keep the business running. We observe those processes and analyze how they interact with company personnel, looking for process gaps that a digital solution could possibly solve. We ask “why that way,” “why then,” and “why that person,” etc.

Our goal is to introduce automation and digital efficiencies that remove process bottlenecks. And while it’s often easy to talk haphazardly about how things should ideally work, the implications of digital transformation can create waves in a company…and they should be carefully considered. People’s jobs may change. Jobs may be eliminated. However, it’s important to make the distinction during the planning phase that such changes aren’t indictments of people or processes—it’s about growth. Usually, when a new digital process or automation relieves a person of job responsibilities, they can be reallocated to more important or valuable activities.

When it comes to more complex business processes, we actually help companies reverse engineer them, highlighting how various factors in the processes changed over time, how additional tasks crept into the processes, and how duplication of efforts developed. Our clients are always surprised by what we find…and that their own people on the ground were unaware of or unable to recognize the problems we find. However, such scenarios are very common. Generally, people who are siloed into a certain way of doing things, with limited perspective on the business as a whole, are blind to factors and events outside of their purview.

I’d be lying if I told you that what we reveal always receives a positive reception. Plenty of eye-rolling and recitations of, “We’ve always done it this way,” are par for the course. However, if it doesn’t stop, and people themselves become impediments to process improvement that your organization desperately needs, a digital transformation can also include changes in leadership. Real talk.

Next time you hear, “We’ve always done it this way,” just give us a call. We can help you reinvent your business processes and take advantage of all the organizational efficiencies that a digital transformation can bring.

 

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