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How to Not Lose Your Shirt while Leading Digital Transformation

The digital era is the time for inspiring and impactful leaders. We are no longer in a time where only the top manager commands, and everyone obeys or follows regardless anymore. Therefore your organization expects you to inspire them and make a positive impact in their organization and their future. Otherwise, you may quickly lose your shirt and more in this volatile market.

You’ll need real support from experienced leaders and facilitators while personalizing things for your business and most importantly, taking action. You position calls for a truly evolved and transformed person with a harmonious blend of skills and a broad personality. You are one of the brand new inspiring and insightful leaders of the digital age: you are a Digital Transformation Leader.

Therefore, being a Digital Transformation Leader who wants to live up to the highest expectations, here are 10 rules to act on so that you can succeed in your mission.

1.     Don’t look to please everyone but set to inspire everyone to be transformed.

2.     Understand that your people do not want the changes but they want the rewarding transformation.

3.     Do not force them to accept change, for you won’t experience success this way, rather you can lead them to embrace the changes themselves and succeed together.

4.     Never fire anyone, but instead release individuals from their end-of-cycle positions, and sometimes reassign them.

5.      Don’t be responsible for everyone’s individual happiness but for the business performance and sustainability. On the other hand, create an environment that promotes individual happiness, performance improvement and therefore organizational success.

6.     Invest in the best digital technologies for your business, without relying too much on the technology but making the business the true driver.

7.     Invest as much in people as you invest in digital technology, because as rewarding as it can be investing in technology, investing in people is even more rewarding for your organization both in the short and the long term.

8.     Start the digital transformation with your personal transformation first, because you will be shaping the future of your organization and it will be a reflection of your mindset.

9.     Create the best leadership support team that you can, because you can’t do it alone.

10. Innovate and leverage the organization, customers and prospects innovative potential.

To support you and help you live to your organization’s expectations, I make it my commitment for you to succeed personally, professionally and holistically.

Join our Digita Transformation Leaders Community for updates about digital transformation.

Successful Change Project Gets ROI, Cake, Promotion and Fun

For years I have studied the differences between successful change project implementation compared to the projects that fail.

Firstly, it is not an easy process because this exercise required me to completely drop my ego in order for it to be successful. While I am proud to say that I have implemented several change projects successfully, keep in mind that I’ve had to continuously make references to both successes and failures to achieve great results.

After all, I was involved in two major change projects where ROI was an illusion. One of these projects never moved forward, and the other one was so chaotic that it led most of the participants to either take the exit door, get disengaged or eventually burn out.

Succesful Project Team Celebrates

Succesful Project Team Celebrates

In fact, while my successful projects implementation got me to brag and feel great about my achievements, it was the failed projects that motivated me enough to go beyond my limits, reach out to people in different fields of expertise, and collaborate to help me uncover the secrets of successful and unsuccessful change project implementation.

As a change leader, here are a few key aspects to focus on in order to deliver your change project successfully.

1. Change implementation as well as change adoption is a process.

Don’t expect people to change habits built up over years or decades with a couple of days of training. Training alone is not enough; people need support and guidance during the process, which is valid both for the leaders and the participants. In addition to training, also provide your team with coaching and guidance - or else, the change you are trying to create may just send everyone in a circle.

2. You are about to move some powerful energy.

Never underestimate the magnitude of the combined forces that you are about to face when moving people out of their comfort zone.

Neuroscience demonstrates to us that our brain is made for survival, and that it protects us from unfamiliar and doubtful situations. Organizations are made with people, and regardless of what powerful technology we use, we must remember that it is human minds who command or operates such technology and processes. With such knowledge, it’s clear that leading people should be one of our main priorities when implementing change.

3. Transformation requires disruption and realignment.

The entire process is both eventful and impactful for everyone involved. Therefore great communication and clear documentation are important for analysis and decision making.

Up to date business and technical requirements and change historic are very precious when changing anything. It is important to know what an information system is made of, as well as its contributors and dependents. For instance, it is important to know when the dependents use it, for what purpose and how they use it. Trial and error can save the day but not always. In addition, roll-backs are not always successful, either.

4. Top management support is always needed at some point.

Even if they intervene just once on a project, it may be the one time that saves the project.

Decision making is a crucial and recurring element of a change project, but often middle-management will shy away from the hard decisions; as such decisions may impact departments or services other than their own. No one can implement change by himself/herself so build a great support team. Implementing change requires teamwork, which is why there is also a need for good leadership.

5. Soft skills are a must!

Transformation and change involve continuous learning, innovation, creativity, communication and problem solving.

Change is also about the experience that the people are having; and experiences lead to emotions and feelings. Since you are at the mercy of your emotions and other people emotions, then emotional intelligence is key.

6. Plans are often useless but strategic planning is essential

You don’t plan for the plan itself, because it is just one outcome that is going to change constantly. You plan to not only know what to expect and prepare for, but also to define your vision, leverage your resources, create a roadmap, milestones, goals, risks and contingencies. Every fool can make a plan but it takes great leadership and visionary skills for an effective strategic planning. The lack of visionary strategic planning is the number 1 cause of failure in change projects.

7. Lead By example

I find this Leo Tolstoy quote to have a lot of meaning:

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

When you open yourself to change, you automatically shut down your defenses, your ego and open yourself to possibilities. In the land of possibilities, your vision enlarge, your self-knowledge is improved, your empathy developed, preparing you to lead others by example. Leading by example is the most reliable, trustworthy and lasting leadership and is applicable at all level and in every field.

8. Bring on the cake!

Not just at the end of the project but I suggest to do it for each big milestone. Celebrate the lessons learned, the achievements and the people making the transformation. Cake is a powerful symbol and even for people who don’t like cake. You can’t go wrong with the message.

M.Nadia Vincent

Part 2 – Why CXOs Must Shift from Change to Transformation in 2016

Today, some businesses and organizations may think that they are not technology leaders and decide to postpone the implementation of a digital transformation. Such a wrong decision is based on a poor understanding of the power and value of the digital transformation. Digital transformation is not about technology only but about the vision for the business. It is about creating a transformation through the tools that technology empowers businesses with. It is about customer retention, business transformation, business reinvention and business survival. It is not about being a technology leader.

"Digital transformation is not about technology only but about the vision for the business."

Let’s see digital transformation from a customer retention perspective. Regardless of the industry a business is in, it is impacted by digital transformation. Digital technologies give the consumer more choices and authority, and it also empowers businesses like never before.

Social media has changed our lifestyles completely. Not only do we interact more with our global network but coupled with Internet of Things, we are now sharing our locations, activities, experiences, and lives in real time. Internet of Things also allows consumers to better manage their time, save money, accomplish more in less time and feel more protected.

A happy customer sharing his/her experience in real time and with emotion is the most powerful marketing ever. A customer shooting out negative experience is bad marketing but at least offers to the business the opportunity for improvement, as a business can take that same negative comment and turn it into a positive transformation. When considering the speed at which information is shared globally, we can therefore say that customers drive business in a way that was not imaginable before. They are the true business influencers.

Before the digital transformation, businesses relied upon surveys to solicit from clients and potential clients’ data that was not always accurate or real in order to improve business. Now, businesses can access information about the customer’s experience that are accurate, in real time, filled with emotions, related to other areas of a customer’s lifestyle, and provide insight into their personal and professional networks.

The business that neglects such an opportunity is not listening to its clients and not appreciating them enough. That business is clearly telling its clients “we don’t care about you enough to listen to you, so go and have fun with the competition who can waste their time talking and listening to you instead.”

Digital transformation is an opportunity for a business to give the best experience to a customer all while getting more information from the customer, selling more to him/her and his/her community, anticipating the customers next wishes and offering it to him/her before he starts looking for it elsewhere.

Digital transformation is “the” opportunity to:

  • Get closer to customers
  • Improve customer experiences
  • Retain customers
  • Offer targeted products or services
  • Have customers recommend products and services to their networks
  • Sell more to customers and their networks
  • Develop new products and services for clients
  • Reinvent a business that is threatened by lifestyle changes

    But all that can only happen if businesses tap into the power of digital transformation. The technology is only the tool that helps power the transformation and is not the transformation in itself. Technology is a power tool behind business and Digital Transformation is the change that a business undergoes in order to transform and enter in the next technology era.

Here is what will happen when Company A decides to postpone investments into digital transformation, while its competitor, Company B invests into digital transformation now. Company B invested in a well-crafted digital transformation vision and is engaging with and wooing its clients while tapping into Company A’s customer pools at the same time. Company B gathers a large amount of precious information about its customers and their networks and turns this information into sharp business intelligence. Company B, then offers tailored solutions to its customers and their networks.

By the time Company A realizes the massive loss of its customers and starts implementing some type of digital transformation, company B has already moved to the next growth phase and is catering to its customers anticipated needs or wishes while locking them in with irresistible offers.

Now Company A faces a bigger problem. Not only has it lost customers but it is collecting less data to start with and will have to either:
- Invest in offering tremendously more value to the market.
- Reinvent its business.
- Die

The only way Company B may have left an advantage to Company A would be if Company B implemented their digital transformation merely as a fun tech gadget for the purposes of being in style, without a clever business vision and strategy that would tap into the real power of digital transformation.

Therefore, executives must get involved and invest in digital transformation now and do it with a business transformation vision that includes customer retention, but not as a trendy technology fashion. Digital transformation is a must because it empowers businesses like never before, and the businesses that neglect it will regret waiting while the ones who embraced it early enough thrive.

In part 3, I’ll speak more about the business transformation from the inside out.

M. Nadia Vincent