Often, we associate the word disruption as being something negative. There’s so much out there about digital transformation being disruptive for businesses and something to be fearful of. Let’s be honest, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there; you’re either the disruptor or, you’re the disrupted. So understandably this subject is daunting.
Your culture should always come first, because if your culture is not ready for change, your people will resist it! In this article, we’ll discuss whether disruption can be positive and how you can engineer a culture ready for change, a culture that welcomes positive disruption with open arms.
Change is Vital for Business Growth
Businesses are not designed to always be the same. Whether they grow steadily or quickly, vertically or horizontally, every business experiences growth, stagnation or decline. So change is inevitable; it’s vital for allowing your business to grow.
Due to digital transformation the pace your business needs to change has quickened (and it’s gaining speed still!). We’re living in the fourth industrial revolution, where the core focus is currently around cyber physical systems, networks and artificial intelligence (AI). Customers now dictate future direction and they have no problem with voicing their opinions on social media and review sites.
However, one fundamental barrier in this time of hectic turbulence is that some people are terrified of change and to transform your business; you need everyone on board.
Positive Disruption: Possible?
The fact is, your culture can either work to your advantage to help advance your business change, or it can drag you down and hold you back. Essentially putting your digital transformation on hold (not something we advise).
Positive disruption is about shifting the narrative. Helping every member of your organisation to see change as being something positive for both them and your customers. Part of this involves taking the focus away from digital transformation slightly, and refocusing on the bigger picture. Workplace modernisation is a business movement that’s about engineering the right culture, business change process and customer experiences that are underpinned, but not made by technology. Companies are often too blinkered by digital transformation and forget to focus on the fact that technology should not dictate the direction of travel, the business should.
Busting Transformation Conundrums
Of course positive disruption is possible, but, you’ve got to tackle your employees’ negative feelings towards change first. Within a business, there will be several different types of change tolerances. Some, will enthusiastically support your digital transformation projects and then there will be those that enthusiastically resist and of course, everyone in between.
Resistance stems from genuine reasons for people to fear change. We’ve busted our top three transformation conundrums below, we encounter these regularly.
#1 technology takes jobs
As we’ve already said, change is inevitable, so it’s a difficult to imagine why people might think that their job will exist forever and always. When your employees close themselves off to change for this reason, the very sad reality of it is that they will eventually make themselves redundant. Your job is to ensure you develop your employees properly, so that they can remain as competitive in the marketplace as your business; don’t let them become a sinking ship.
As digital progresses, we’re realising that there are so many manual and menial job roles that can just be done by a machine. It’s difficult to shift the view that digital transformation takes jobs, but not impossible.
Instead, you need to encourage your employees to see digital transformation as an opportunity. For personal development, to do a different role, to spend less time on admin and more time doing worthwhile projects for the business. There’s plenty of opportunity for job creation and more fulfilling activities. The role of the IT manager for example, isn’t the same anymore. It’s evolved from someone who always used to just keep the lights on; to working closely with other departments to add value to the business by improving the customer experience, implementing solutions that engage employees and figuring out how to utilise data better.
#2 we’re going to have to replace all of our systems to achieve digital transformation!
Of course digital transformation is to an extent about implementing new technology. But think about the bigger picture (workplace modernisation), do you really need to replace all your systems? What if you could just overlay old ones with newer technology and fully replace them further down the line.
Our B●CONNECTED framework allows businesses to do just this. You can easily modernise your existing solutions by moving them to the cloud or plugging in other solutions such as; gamification, business process automation and creating new microservices.
#3 digital transformation is really expensive
This is a conundrum we often encounter. Let us put it this way, digital transformation is more expensive if you don’t do it (or do it too slowly). The right solutions will save your business money. Through business efficiencies, increased employee productivity, better customer experiences, a better understanding of your data and areas to improve.
Engineering the Right Culture
A culture of positive disruption is one that is ready for and embraces change. You want to get all of your employees thinking and acting like enthusiastic supporters. Bring them into being part of the digital transformation plan, they are integral to it (and you) after all.
A culture of positive disruption is not about having a beer fridge or pool table in the kitchen, it runs much deeper. It’s a feeling, a vibe.
Craft an Open Culture
An open culture is one that inspires people. If you help people feel more involved with your digital transformation, then they are far more likely to respond well to it. Listening and being able to gather feedback is vital. Not only to helping you to fail fast and fail less due to fast problem resolution, but also generating ideas for the future as to how solutions could be improved for both your employees and customers.
Show Some Emotion
Emotional intelligence is vital. Due to the sensitivity of some of topics surround digital transformation (i.e. conundrum #1), care needs to be taken to address the human side. It’s your responsibility to ensure employees aren’t fearful of their jobs being taken and that the correct steps are in place to transition into new roles.
Bust the Negative Connotations of Failure
Failure is a vital part of digital transformation. Like disruption, this is a word that’s often shrouded with negative connotations, but it is key for the advancement of your digital transformation journey. By creating a culture where failure is seen as an iteration of the process, you will create a more innovative environment where employees are not scared to challenge the status quo and look for better ways of doing things.
Rollout Strategies are Vital
It would be a mistake to forget to think about how you rollout new technologies along your digital transformation journey. It’s vital for your employees embracing and actually using new systems. Think about how you keep communications flowing with your employees throughout the implementation and long after. Plus training, development, testing and updates and future work. Once your employees realise change might not run smoothly, but they are clear on what’s happening and feel comfortable using new technologies, they will realise digital transformation isn’t so bad after all.
Voice is Integral
As we become more digital, it’s vital that voice is not lost. Particularly from inside an organisation, it’s all too easy to get into the habit of talking to each other through Instant Messengers like Skype. But human-to-human interaction is so crucial for building rapport between employees. It’s also the quickest option for resolution and you’re at least 40x more likely to get the outcome you want by physically going and speaking with them, or pick up the phone. Throughout your digital transformation, it’s vital to never lose your voice.