Business leaders the world over are hearing the term 'Digital Transformation' being banded about and are privately cowering in needless fear. Digital Transformation is new to everyone, and, as such it can seem scary. There are no business models and there are no carefully drawn out plans. Behind the scenes some try to argue that Digital Transformation might be a fad, a passing phase - or more worryingly for some – that trying to delivery digital transformation brings more risks than benefits.
While the reality is that there is always a risk of failure – that doesn't mean that the leap shouldn't be made. Perhaps the biggest fear in many leaders is that the process of Digital Transformation means they will suddenly need to be all-knowing about new technology, and become digital gurus. The reality is Digital Transformation is actually about leadership. How will you lead your staff, customers and shareholders to deliver change and trust in a vision of a new tomorrow?
Managing your team's fears and expectations can be a challenge, often with older members of staff who may struggle with the changing technology, so being a leader that listens to concerns, anticipates fears and provides relevant training and communications is key. Remember, you need to explain the 'why' to staff including the golden rule of tuning into their personal radio station - WII-FM i.e. What's In It For Me? So it's important to build a narrative of the benefits to your team beyond the facts and figures of cost savings or 'efficiencies'.
To give an example of this, when recently helping a District Council with a Digital Transformation programme, I worked with the leadership team to explore the benefits of digital transformation to the workforce and residents. Along with performing an extensive team survey and resident roundtables, where we could explore concerns and opportunities directly with team members, we were also able to identify what the tangible benefits would be for the team. For example, we found that flexible working and the ability to work from home, was a welcome benefit of implementing technologies which could be accessed via mobile technologies. For residents, there were many benefits ranging from online access to ongoing planning applications through to reduced response times for enquiries.
Creativity and innovation are going to be important focal points for you. There will always be new challenges cropping up, so build a strong team around you, assign clear goals and learn from inevitable (small) failures. Your role as the leader is to keep the team on track with the overall mission and ensure you are all heading in the right direction. You don't need to know the ins and outs of the technologies, but you do need to ensure you have the right people working on the right things at the right time. Keeping everyone on track, especially when there will be lots of moving parts, will require clarity of vision and creativity in how you communicate this to the team. Storytelling is a powerful tool when bringing your vision to life with the team. Any good story has a beginning, middle and an end, so your team will want to know where they are on that journey, and how they fit into the storyline. Making sure your team know their role in your vision means they are more likely to be invested in a successful outcome. We are all human, and just as you may fear the challenges of Digital Transformation, your team may have similar fears about their own job security and their own importance in the organisation as the changes happen around them. So as a leader you need to address these fears and motivate the existing team.
None of these activities require in-depth knowledge of digital or technology. They do require strong leadership skills and the ability to identify the benefits of Digital Transformation for the people in your organisation, and bring them on the journey with you.
If you would like to find out how we can support you with any of the topics raised in this blog post, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 0800 0293739.