People Drive Transformation

Digital transformation is all about people. Your audience and your staff. For your audience, digital transformation aims to deliver amazing customer experiences. To deliver those experiences requires the efforts of your staff.

At Adage, we always recommend starting a digital transformation with a deep understanding of your audience including your staff. We have found that this understanding leads to greater empathy and a clearer vision of what is required of leadership and staff to achieve a digital transformation. That said there are a number of situations that you can expect.

Digital Transformation Requires Culture Change

Digital transformation is a people journey as much a business and technology journey. As organizations embark on this journey it is important to expect that you will ask your staff to change. Starting with culture. A basic definition of culture is “this is how we have always done it”. Digital transformation will require that you stop, update, or start doing things differently.

To be very successful organizations will need to shift the culture. One facet of this change is a shift from the department, and functional silos, to cross-functional teams. In many organizations, the structure and power of silos are baked into their operations. Digital transformation is not possible if only a single department is involved. Digital transformation is not a functional area of IT or marketing. Digital transformation requires the entire organization to work in concert.

Cross-functional teams

Cross-functional teams are made up of members across departments and roles. Imagine a web team made up of customer service reps, sales, marketing, membership, communication, education, advocacy, and policy. This is the type of team that is required to deliver amazing member experiences and digital transformation. Keep in mind asking staff to work this way may be a shocking change of status-quo. This change alone will require a great deal of attention and effort. Some staff may resist, and some cases fight or opt-out of this approach.

New Roles, New Responsibilities

For many organizations, digital transformation will ask staff to take on more. For starters more means more work. Most organizations will not be able to take on new staff (new hires) to lead, manage, or execute the functions needed to drive transformation. This necessitates asking existing staff to either adjust their time allocation or simply work more. Not only will working more often be required for working differently. In many cases, we find that organizations lack skill sets or roles to help with digital transformation. So the impact is two-fold. First, you will be asking staff to learn a new skill, and second, take on a new role. The more agile organizations will experience less pain in this area. The more litigious organizations may require that Human Resources (HR) be involved in redrawing roles, responsibilities, job descriptions, and compensation plans.

In conclusion, the impact on staff will be widespread. Digital transformations often fail. A primary reason for this failure is underestimating the change management effort underlying the transformation. Digital transformation is about people. If transformation were simply a business or technology problem many more organizations would have transformed by now. Guiding your people through a digital transformation can be done. Knowing what to expect of digital transformation is the start of the journey.