a view of the beach on a digital phone screen
Start looking at the world through a DX lens. PHOTO: Jordan McQueen

Gartner predicts that by 2020, 75 percent of businesses will transform to digital — or at least be preparing for the change. Unfortunately, only 30 percent of those attempts will be successful, it adds. 

Business and IT leaders must be ready and willing to innovate rapidly from a business model, business process and technology perspective, Gartner stressed. They should also recognize that some business processes must become deliberately unstable during this transition. 

"Deliberately unstable processes are designed for change and can dynamically adjust to customers' needs. They are vital because they are agile, adaptable and 'supermanoeuvrable' as customers' needs shift," Gartner states. 

"Large, stable processes that have no ability to dynamically change according to new information will not enable organizations to deliver on the promise of digital business."

But what intrinsically separates the organizations that will succeed in their transition to digital from those destined to fail?

It’s all about the people, said Renée Robertson, founder and CEO of Trilogy Development, a consulting firm specializing in talent development. 

“Nobody thinks about the people part of it,” she told CMSWire. “Projects like this don’t fail because the technology doesn’t work — it’s the people.” 

Get Ready for Change

Robertson believes a company's journey to digital experience (DX) is similar to other changes that organizations experience as they evolve over time. But digital does present some unique challenges.

“Everyone is going through transformation. It is the digital era,” she said.

“With any type of change, the approach is the same — anticipate, adapt and adjust accordingly. With technology, the difference is that it’s moving so quickly that people can’t always anticipate, adapt and adjust that quickly.” 

3 DX Realities

Renee Robertson
For those companies going through digital transformation or getting ready to take the plunge, Robertson offered three suggestions to smooth the process. 

1. Anticipate Resistance

Change is hard and not everyone adapts to it easily. Robertson advises leaders to take stock of the level of support their team members are willing and able to provide. It's also important to anticipate pockets of resistance.

“When assessing the level of resistance, you need to understand the key players and stakeholders,” she said. “Assess how close they are to the change and to what degree they’re willing and ready to change, and how capable they are of doing so.” 

Based on your assessment, she continued, you could design specific strategies around those who are closest to the change and most impacted.

For example, if there is a new financial system being deployed, control and finance will likely have the highest degree of change and will be most resistant. For those team members, she added, leaders need to ask themselves what needs to be done to move those people forward.

“Do we need a one-to-one approach?” she asked. “Do we need workshops on change to help ready the group to move forward? Or do they need communication? It might be all of those things depending on the level of change.”

And how do you handle someone who is so resistant to change that they resort to sabotaging your efforts?

“If you have someone who is undermining the change, they need to be moved to another position, or excused from the program,” she suggested. “You’re either behind it or you’re not. If you commit, then you deliver.”

2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Of course, we’ve heard it all before, but the simple fact is that most of us don’t communicate as much or as effectively as we should. However, when it comes to change, giving others as much information as possible becomes even more critical, said Robertson.

“You cannot communicate enough when there is change or massive transformation,” she said. “We’re humans. We’re afraid of the unknown. If people have information, then they know what they need to do.”

One way to communicate during a large transformation, said Robertson, is to have an all-hands call in which employees gather with the leadership, and are given an update on the project, as well as the opportunity to get their questions answered.

Another suggestion is to provide an online portal or exchange so that people being impacted by the change have a place where they can ask questions and get community support from colleagues and peers.

3. Step Back and Think

Finally, Robertson recommends that leaders create time and space for themselves to step back and think strategically. The most effective way to do this, she added, is through coaching. (Guess which services Robertson’s company provides.)

“We don’t have much time to ourselves anymore,” said Robertson. “To carve out a time when you can think with a strategic partner who is third-party-neutral to help devise a plan to ready yourself, your department, and your organization is invaluable, and we can’t lose sight of that.”

A coaching session is a good time to develop strategies such as messaging and communication methods, among others, said Robertson. Whether you decide that an all-hands call is most appropriate, or a fireside chat with key leaders, you need to carve out time to determine how you’ll prepare those most impacted by the change.

“Coaching for leaders and leaders impacted most by the change is an excellent technique. It creates a little bit of space for people to think strategically and plan — especially with tech and transformation, we’re going so fast, our brains can’t keep up.”

Title image by Jordan McQueen.