Technology is moving so fast it outpaces a company’s ability to adopt and utilize it, especially using old project techniques that isolate technology solutions and design teams. Because of this emerging pattern of rapid and repeated technology change, it is imperative that companies begin to focus on what people can absorb. What does it take for a company to be at-the-ready for adopting new emerging technologies and remain competitive and efficient within their industry?
To Truly Transform Means Paradigm Shift
Putting in a new technology does not a transformation make. Transformation happens when a company changes what they do in the business to change the business. Emerging digital technology opens the door for changing how businesses serve customers or offer products, and while the potential seems endless, transformation only happens when there is commitment to being agile enough to be poised to transform. This requires a paradigm shift in approach.
Transformation is a whole business activity. Long gone is the isolated IT group supporting desktops and servers. Your IT/OT/IS groups are an integral part of the business and the integration between what people do and how they do it is an all-business activity that involves and includes the leadership level. The socio-technical interactions between your people and the technology they need to do their jobs must be your focus, not the technology itself.
Business strategy must be the driver. When asked, every single person in your organization should know the actual business strategy that is being addressed by the technical solution and that solution should be tied to other technical solutions for a whole business approach. If it is solely a cost-cutting exercise, you are missing the opportunity to engage and tie the business together for achieving company goals.
User experience is a triumph accelerator. Customer experience is a noble goal, but stopping with the end-user is a misnomer. The experience you provide during the build of your solution, and everyone who experiences the technology from process development to build to implementation through to sustainability can become part of your transformation. Making this a priority will reduce, if not eliminate, the high cost of resistance.
The Cost of Resistance and a Sour Return on Investment
The true cost doesn’t happen during the implementation. The true cost happens afterward: the cost of slow adoption, the cost of minimal utilization, the cost of not improving processes prior to build. And then there is the cost of support. High hopes are dashed a year after implementation because no one wanted to commit the dollars to changing how business is done using the new tool, but rather, assumed it would solve challenges just in the technology itself.
The true cost doesn’t happen during the implementation. The true cost happens afterward.
There Is a Better Way
Facilitating how a project is implemented by using successful techniques such as agile development, design thinking, human-centered experiential design, and immersive stakeholder engagement strategies creates a stronger foundation for moving people through transformation and change.
Organizational change management (OCM) focus, or the ”people strategy” that works with people in three specific layers of the company, makes significant inroads in shifting the way a business transforms. A people strategy that is robust and scalable takes commitment from the leadership level recognizing that up-front work is where the project success lies. The layers of OCM that are most important for providing people strategy are:
Leadership level. As Austin Kirkbride from Slalom Consulting says, it’s not enough to be ready, leaders also need to be willing and able.
Technical build and delivery level. The technical team must commit to transforming at their level in addition to creating the transformation for the stakeholders.
Stakeholder level. Engagement, engagement, engagement, oh, and then engage. These folks need to be brought along through the build so that what you are building is relevant to the required business changes.
When you have a solid people strategy that allows for awareness, support, feedback, collaboration, and quick decision-making, a transformation is more likely to be successful. It is, actually, far more about the people than it is the technology.
The people strategy must be in direct correlation with the over-arching business strategy or direction; this is imperative as the technology solution is sustainable only by the human factor, or socio-technical interaction it receives from the business.
What is even more promising, is that by committing time and resources upfront, in an engaging and collaborative manner, the company actually gains a much faster and more robust solution. Reaching out to the business at every stage of design also supports sustainability, or a transformation that people can actually live with.
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Patti Blackstaffe is the CEO of
Strategic Sense Inc.
, which focuses on helping clients build transformation agility through people strategy. A specialist in change and transformation, she focuses on complex technology implementations and change through M&A. Her years of hands-on experience in the automation industry, international business, and large organizational projects goes into her people strategy and programs for clients. She is an industry advisor for the Business Technology, Management and Analytics Program within the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, certified in change management, and a local volunteer. You can follow her on Twitter
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