Communication Is Key to Transformation
Change is hard and scary; don't pretend it isn't. But communication can help you get through it.
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I had the opportunity to hear from a panel of executives at Appian World discussing their experiences leading digital transformation efforts across their organizations. The discussion was led by Kristin Scott, Vice President of US Sales, Appian. She was joined by:
Here are my key takeaways from the discussion:
How to effectively manage change?
A change initiative needs to take place from the top down and the bottom up; you need both. If management isn’t bought in, nothing will change. To get employees to buy-in, talk with them. Identify the “true believers” who will help promote the initiative. Get people discussing what the initiative means to them, how they can see it impacting the organization, i.e. the desired “future state,” and how to benchmark performance. By engaging employees in the discussion, you gain ownership of and buy-in to the initiative. Consider tough-love, myth-busting town halls where you deliver stories to help them understand the need to change.
To get started, map the end-to-end process with all of the franchises of the organization but realize it’s an iterative and agile process. Bring the team together to map out potential problem areas to look at. Talk to predecessors. Change is ongoing. Stay close to the work. Understand that failure will take place before success.
What role do communications play?
You need to be able to communicate both up and down the organization and get buy-in with the team and management. Gain buy-in by starting with the business case and being clear about the tangible benefits. To increase accountability quantify key metrics like customer experience (CX), time to market, time to resolution, revenue, reduction of manual processes.
Have adult conversations with people and be transparent. Everyone in the organization will appreciate the level of openness and vulnerability you share. Change is hard and scary; don’t pretend it isn’t.
What are the leadership skills needed to digitally transform?
There’s always “storming, forming, and norming” when you bring strong personalities together, but that’s part of the process of building a strong coalition. Leaders need to be able to step back so other team members can take a step up.
Leaders help others see change as an opportunity for growth versus something happening to them. Help others feel safe about being open and honest. Understand the end goal and realize that others might not understand what you’re trying to achieve and you need to do a reset with them. Share what this means to you and have that conversation with others. Have the ability to establish a common goal and vision and scale the message to everyone in the organization. Empower people to translate the goal to their own language and be part of it.
People driving success and change are honest, respectful, and straight with each other. Recognize when people are a hindrance not helping achieve the goal and be willing suggest it’s time they make a career change. Look for people who empower others and create champions. Identify people who are willing to accept change. Recognize the shift in leadership skills needed at different steps in the process. Different people may be required to step to the forefront at different times.
What are the skills necessary to be successful with change?
Begin by having the basic skill set to live in a digital community and a digital world.
Leadership skills are key. Be able to sit at the table and advocate for yourself and your ideas in a positive and collaborative way. Gen Z is very entrepreneurial minded. We need to find ways to let people be an entrepreneur within our own company
A combination of skills and passion are needed by someone who wants to be technical and someone who wants to be a leader. Be able to help others with their passion. There’s a blurring of lines today as developers are becoming business managers and business managers are becoming developers. Nurture talent and give people the opportunity to continuously evolve.
Today, Gen Z women have a voice, a lot of ideas, and want to change everything. Help them focus, get perspective, learn from each other, be patient, learn how to temper and manage them so they’ll be a long-term asset to the enterprise.
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