All transformation projects are held together by a strategic decision made by top leadership with a clear vision, along with an amplification of visionary voices heard throughout the organization.
With leadership repetitively prompting pace and ambition, a formal communication system underwriting the vision and process should always be present. The communications plan must include more novel ways of connecting and reflect the anticipated future. Social media and digital promotions should be visible throughout the drumbeat campaign.
Cultural and readiness surveys are useful tools and should be part and parcel of any transformation. By working from a foundation of the known, leadership and its steering committees have the authority of a fact-based starting point and thus progress can be easily planned and measured. Without any benchmarks, the antibodies in the company will thrive on innuendoes, half-truths and skepticism. It’s also unfair to the willing and able to run without benchmarks, as it makes the situation ambiguous and open to different interpretations and solutions that can cause unnecessary friction and deflate the ambition set.
Mental models of cultural awareness also reflect the difference between artists and soldiers. Every company has both, and part of the leadership quotient is properly acknowledging and understanding what you have. A high degree of routine work supporting a mechanized industrial asset tends to be filled with soldiers, and this insight must impact how we design the transformation initiative. People lower in the organization have a more limited scope of change and that change does not mean failure. Some argue a correlation with education or the costs related to training and that training should not be necessary if the new work designs are done properly. The truth is, nobody is training new users how to use Uber, Facebook, Robin Hood, Fitbit or Factorio. Why, some say, can’t our company’s work methods be that intuitive and easy to adopt?
It’s been noted that transformation management is the art of dirty hands. Resilience is needed in all circumstances and sometimes you just have to get back up if you get knocked down. What makes true transformation different from traditional engineering project management is that transformation management is faced with social-organization dynamics of espousing creativity and adoption in a traditionally very stable and routinized environment. On top of that, the stuff people are supposed to discover and adopt changes faster than the organization itself. Thus, managing that Goldie Locks space between moving too fast and being too slow is the challenge. And just to complicate matters more, the transformation project has to be self-funding.
If we decide to embark on a transformation adventure, we must to be prepared for it – to do the right stuff, to spend money, to be creative and to invest the time. We have to focus on getting people on-board. There is the challenge of helping people cross the chasm between early adopters and early majority. But regardless of where you are on the adoption curve, companies are not going to avoid innovative solutions in their value chain or in their organization. Whether your company is a leader or a follower, the change must still be had.
VCI Transformation Forum, Notes and Insights, September 16, 2020
The VCI Transformation Forum seeks to share questions and insights between members about the ways and means to lead large scale transformations, the potential impacts of emerging technology, and on maneuvers that ensure strategic stability and 10X growth. Models of innovation are susceptible to exponential change as people’s behaviors, technology, global politics and economics further shape the world. As such, we believe it is the opportune moment for more engagement, dialog, and consultation.