As I blogged about previously, Chris Sly, Solution Principal for Technology & Developer and Transformation, at Skillsoft in EMEA, and I, are now participating in a new podcast series hosted by James Hilliard. For our first recording, we offered practical advice and tips on building successful teams in the digital workplace.
Our second podcast, Digital Transformations at Work, was a candid discussion around digital transformation. It is a topic that is close to my heart. I’ve spent many hours and days in close collaboration with customers all over the world, assisting them through the initial steps of what is inevitably a continuous journey.
Chris also works with customers advising about best practice. His sphere is more tech-heavy so together I think we can offer some solid tips regardless of industry or area.
Here are our top seven suggestions for making your digital transformation journey a successful one.
#1 Define digital transformation
Despite all the research and whitepapers on the subject, we have found that everyone has a different definition of digital transformation. Therefore, before even beginning any changes or restructuring, it is highly beneficial first to establish both an explanation and an understanding of how it applies to your organization. In our experience, often it is the digital element that causes the most confusion. The transformation appears to be easy to understand, so set clear mission statements regarding the digital and its implications for everyone.
#2 Don’t jump on the trend bandwagon
While it is advantageous to understand the current buzzwords, always remember who is taking the journey. Organizations must still look to what applies to their situation and address those accordingly. Conduct a comprehensive review of all your current processes and procedures and examine them for bottlenecks and other problem areas. Look to solve these first. Otherwise, you risk duplicating an inferior system.
#3 Build a “dream team”
Look around at the talent you currently have and then complete an assessment to see what skills they are missing or could benefit from enhancing. As part of this internal audit. Be sure to pay careful attention to the digital aspect of the skills review. I also caution against assuming because of where they work, the IT department or team will either take the lead or direct the digital aspect of the transformation. EVERYONE has a new job/new role, not just IT.
#4 Empower everyone
A successful transformation is one where everyone in the organization takes responsibility and manages their change. Instilling this belief of shared responsibility is critical. Start by holding conversations with the people on the frontline. Develop a culture where everyone understands the value of the change both to the organization and their role and is therefore supporting and adapting as needed.
#5 Encourage a mindset of digital transformation
I cannot stress enough just how collaborative a process digital transformation is and how critical it is, therefore, to foster a team mentality. In my experience, the IT team is often the lead on this as they are more familiar with working on a collective goal. If this is the case in your company, I suggest leveraging this experience to encourage and assist other departments in switching not just mindsets but workflows.
#6 Holistic organizational approach
One of the critical enablers of change is understanding. Chris and I are both big believers in the provision of soft skills training as the cornerstone of successful transformation. When people can understand what they are doing and why then they can begin to do their jobs differently.
#7 Model new behaviors
It is everyone’s responsibility to play a part in the digital transformation journey. However, it is particularly incumbent upon executives to demonstrate to the rest of the organization their contributions to the change. For example, in one energy company I worked with the leadership was aware that to implement a new data strategy, they must first develop a better understanding of the data’s significance. To do this, each executive, regardless of their role, undertook data training and became data citizens. Their willingness to acknowledge that they needed training opened up the possibilities for everyone in the organization and helped ensure the successful implementation of a new strategy.
Kristin Shackelford is the Solution Principal of the Business & Leadership Portfolio at Skillsoft.