We live in an age in which disruption, change and dynamic demands has become the only constant. So, it’s not surprising that change and IT management models have become popular. Executives are urged to develop a plan to communicate the need for change, access and functionality, create a sense of urgency and then drive the process through to completion.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of these efforts fail and it’s not hard to see why. Anybody who’s ever been married and has kids knows first-hand how difficult it can be to convince even a single person of something. Any effort to persuade hundreds, if not thousands, of people through some kind of mass effort is setting the bar pretty high. In business we have the impact of cultural, social and economic conditions that vary vastly form the typical household. If you cannot get consensus at home easily, then add these variables and the matter is drastically compounded.
As with most organizations, change and transformation is usually lead by IT, with business input as an after thought. The high and costly failure rate of transformation initiatives are no longer affordable or sustainable, projects taking years to complete across numerous business cycles, disruptions, and business model changes become less beneficial when “complete”. Complete is not a definite state, in my experience, the targets and goals posts are continuously moved by IT and their vendors.
A high percentage of IT consultants and managers are great at creating useless buzzwords that confuse management and create delay while they do nothing. This is usually a disguise and deflection to cover up some level of failure, delays or additional costs.
The pandemic has exposed the cloak and dagger approach that most IT organizations have operated under. The language of integration, collaboration and inclusiveness to enhance that stakeholder experience are only words used by IT to appease the business and appear that they are doing something that will provide value. The reality is IT operates in a siloed environment of self importance, authoritarian and control, forgetting why they exist and who they are there to serve. The customer experience is typically not on their radar, it is about control and dictatorship approach to how the business will operate.
Prolonged Effects of the Pandemic
As the effects of the pandemic are prolonged and we know how critical remote connectivity and access to information and how critical digital capabilities are across the stakeholder network to enable the remote workforce. From large corporation to SMBs, most organizations are not integrated, and their legacy systems are not kept up to date to support the demands of todays workforce and client interactions.
Typically, projects and or initiatives are approved to resolve a particular issue and the overall impact to the value chain is usually not assessed accurately, the decisions are made with high levels of personal bias, political agenda, and influence. Projects initiated in an environment of siloed and disconnected legacy systems, will undoubtedly have a high rate of failure in not meeting user expectations. Requirements and outcomes are typically done around a solution rather than the need and impact, which in turn adds to the predictable costs escalation, stretched durations and high failure rates.
What we need to consider, as an organization, are we moving to provide anything as a service, if this is true, then our enabling systems, assets and resources must be integrated to seamlessly support the functions and transactions across the value chain and stakeholder experiences.
Using Data for Informed Decisions and Survival
Starting with data collection, use and availability, we must remove personal bias and decision bias to enable connectivity, transparency, quality decisions and the repercussions of failing to connect systems, applications, and data.
The need for automation and integrated industrial digital technology is also adding pressure on internal IT operations and automation and robotics will not be successful in disconnected environments. Failure to connect systems, applications, and data will hinder automation initiatives and this is no affordable at a time as companies are looking to recover, survive and protect market share with automated business processes via capabilities, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Block Chain and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
Seamless access to data, information and applications is critical to support the remote workforce and changing client demands. Business survival and growth during this era of pandemic and social disruption is highly dependant on reliable access to data. This will allow workers of remote locations to stay actively involved and help provide AaaS to your clientele and partners by effectively connecting and using information, data and sharing knowledge from multiple sources to drive business value. The pandemic has highlighted and exposed weaknesses in the way systems are designed, managed, operated and integrated, along with the outdate workflows, business rules and processes.
Using buzzwords such as #collaboration, #servicefromanylocationat anytime, #integration, #centersforenablement, #bestpractices, #dataasaservice, #citizenintegrators, etc. are nothing more than smoke and mirrors unless the functionality is seamlessly realised by all participants in all locations.
In most organizations, the majorities don’t just rule, they also influence, especially local majorities. The effect is even more powerful when the issue at hand is more ambiguous than the length of a line on a card. One of the best ways to convince somebody of something is to surround them with people who hold a different opinion. To extend the marriage analogy a bit, I might have a hard time convincing my wife or daughter, say, that my jokes are funny and not at all corny, but if they are surrounded by people who think I’m hilarious, they’ll be more likely to think so too. Power to Dad jokes!
Changing Dynamics and Demands
The problem with creating change throughout an organization is that any sufficiently large group of people will hold a variety of opinions about virtually any matter and these opinions tend to be widely dispersed. So, the first step in creating large-scale change is to start thinking about where to target your efforts and there are two tools that can help you do that.
Once you are able to identify these groups, you can start mobilizing the most enthusiastic supporters to start influencing the other groups to shift their opinions. You probably won’t ever convince the active opposition, but you can isolate and neutralize them. Active allies and the Pillars of Support, identifies stakeholder groups that can help influence and action change.
These might be managers, supervisors, team leads, unit leaders, customer groups, industry associations, clients, regulators, etc. These stakeholders are crucial if you want to drive change effectively, as you will need to pull them in to the decision-making processes.
Identifying A Keystone Change
Every change effort begins with an issue, problem or grievance: sales are down, customers are unhappy or perhaps a new technology threatens to disrupt a business model. Change starts when leaders are able to articulate a clear and affirmative “action for tomorrow” that is empowering and points toward a better future.
However, the vision can rarely be achieved all at once. That’s why successful change efforts define a keystone change, which identifies a tangible goal, involves multiple stakeholders and paves the way for future change. A successful keystone change can supercharge your efforts to shift the Spectrum of Allies and pull in Pillars of Support.
So rather than embarking on a multi-year death march to implement a new technology throughout the company, start with building internal APIs to build momentum and deliver incremental levels of functionality in 90 days or less. You will involve many of the same stakeholders that you will need for a multi year project but involved far less risk and is able to show clear benefits that paves the way for future change and brings value.
Many change efforts that show initial success ultimately fail because of backlash from key stakeholders. That’s why it is crucial to plan how you will survive victory by rooting your change effort in values, skills and capabilities, rather than in specific objectives or tactics.
Large, successful enterprises needed to move against a disruptive threat, legacy infrastructure or business models need to be constantly updated and or replaced and aligned with the relevant skills and capabilities.
The truth is you can’t overpower, bribe or coerce people to embrace change. By focusing on changing the dynamics upon which a transformation can take place, you can empower those within your organization to drive change themselves. The role of leaders is no longer to plan and direct action, but to inspire, enable, entrust, and support belief.
We are in an era of continuous change, we must adapt quickly and align to demands and geo political influences to survive, or we will be left behind with no choice other then to shut the doors.
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Dave Gajadhar is an Advisor, Speaker, Educator, and an Advocate for Human prosperity and resource optimization at Resultant Group (Edmonton, AB), business modernization, resource optimization and transition advisors.
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