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The Key to a Successful Digital Transformation? People.

People play a key role in a successful digital transformation. While technology is a critical part of a digital transformation, it is ultimately the people who will drive the change and make it successful. Daniel Newman, an expert in digital transformation believes that “we forget that even though we have the technology for every task, nothing can replace the human touch and spirit. And for this reason, people drive the digital transformation.”

People also need strong leadership that can create a culture that encourages innovation and collaboration. A business leader is required to critically assess their teams’ capabilities in order to usher in a successful digital transformation. Without the right team, a digital transformation is likely to be lackluster.

How you can overcome resistance to change in a digital transformation

Resistance to change is a common challenge in any transformation, especially in a digital transformation. An expert and professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD, Charles Galunic, highlights why digital transformation can be more challenging than other forms of change, “the integration needs of digitizing companies may be greater than other forms of change, with more unintended consequences of digital changes (i.e. knock-on effects to other systems and processes or partners).”

Here are five ways to overcome resistance to change in your digital transformation journey:

  1. Communicate clearly. Make sure that all employees understand the reasons for the transformation, and how it will benefit the organization and its customers. Communicate regularly and transparently throughout the process to keep everyone informed and engaged.

  2. Involve employees in the process. Get your teams involved in the planning and decision-making process. This can help to build buy-in and share ownership. It makes employees feel like they are part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

  3. Address concerns and fears. Employees may have concerns and fears about the transformation, such as job security or the impact on their work. Address these concerns openly and honestly, and provide support and training to help employees adapt to the changes.

  4. Celebrate successes. As the transformation progresses, celebrate successes and recognize the contributions of employees. This can help to build momentum and drive the change forward.

  5. Be prepared for setbacks. Change is rarely smooth and linear. Be prepared for setbacks and challenges, and stay flexible and adaptable. Don't be afraid to course-correct and adjust your approach if needed.

How you can make digital transformation important and long-lasting

To make a digital transformation impactful and long-lasting, organizations should focus on building a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. Creating a workplace that encourages innovation requires a workplace that enables creativity.

At the core of innovation is people’s ability to think creatively together. Forbes contributors Jim Ludema and Amber Johnson, in an article about creating a culture of innovation, believe that “creativity and innovation happen between 9 to 5, in a conference room, with people wearing suits.”

The point is not about wearing suits in an office. The key message is that creativity and innovation happen in the workplace, especially in offices that aim to foster cultures that support their employees to grow, learn, and experiment. They want to create value and contribute to the projects that they are a part of, so their involvement in a business’ evolution is paramount.

Follow these actions to facilitate a long-lasting digital transformation:

  1. Communicate a clear and compelling vision for the transformation, and involve employees in the planning and decision-making process.

  2. Provide training and support to help employees adapt to new technologies and ways of working.

  3. Empower employees to take ownership of the transformation and drive it forward.

  4. Recognizing and celebrating successes, and encouraging employees to share their ideas and experiences.

  5. Invest in technology and infrastructure that supports the transformation and enables ongoing innovation.

  6. Establish a feedback loop to continuously monitor progress, identify areas for improvement, and adapt the transformation plan as needed.

By taking these steps, organizations can create a culture that is receptive to change, and build the momentum and engagement needed to make a digital transformation impactful. In the words of Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft: "Digital technology is not just an increment to the old way of doing things, it is the foundation of the new way of doing things. And at the center of that new way of doing things are people."

Capacitor Partners specializes in digital transformation, and services companies across sectors in their efforts to digitize their processes and practices. The best way to prepare for the future is to get familiar with and learn how to use technologies that are shaping the way we do business, and the ways in which we communicate. We will guide you in your company’s digital transformation journey, and ensure that your teams are equipped with the knowledge and tools to propel you into tomorrow.


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