There is a guy called Gerd Leonhard. He’s a futurist. Now, apart from the fact that being a Futurist is a really cool job title, he’s got some really cool ideas. One of Gerd’s key messages is:
Whatever can be digitised, automated and virtualised, will be – and anything that cannot be digitised or automated will become extremely valuable (i.e. our uniquely human qualities).
The key to everything I do, every solution I create is designing it to support humans, not fit technology.
The transition program is about People not Technology
When we talk about the digital transformation of the workplace, we often focus on the business or technical aspects: supply chains, artificial intelligence, product services, and a whole host of other ways to gain efficiencies from new technology. Yet, some leaders seem to forget about those most impacted by a digital transformation: their employees. When employee experience is not part of the digital transformation journey, the entire initiative is at risk.
If you can put employees in the organisational story, they become actors in that story. You create a groundswell where employees are stakeholders in the success of the digital transformation initiative.
Your people need to benefit too
When digital transition is talked about, we focus on better client experience, or productivity savings for the organisation. Rarely is it mentioned that it makes the workplace a happier, healthier place to be. That’s what digital transformation must achieve to be considered successful. Benefits for all.
By enabling your people to offload their mundane, manual, repetitive and boring tasks to technology (that is better equipped to do these tasks anyway), you give your people the space to do more interesting, more value-add and complex tasks that tap into their innate strengths – to use the skills and attributes you hired them for – creating a far more fulfilling work environment, that in turn, is better at creating solutions and value for customers and the organisation.
Empathise, be flexible. Compromise. It won’t kill you, or the project.
Do you know anyone who is afraid of spiders? Or the water? Or of heights? Ever seen anyone like that ‘cured’ by throwing them in a room of spiders, throwing them in the deep end, or throwing them off a cliff? No, me neither.
It’s the same with technology. Just chucking an iPad, a laptop or a new system at people who aren’t comfortable with it will not work,
So instead of taking the ‘do it or be redundant’ approach, take the time to understand just exactly what their fear is, and being empathic and flexible with solutions. Take it one step at a time.
For example, when I was working with a legal firm to help them transition to a less-paper environment, the solicitors were worried that they couldn’t print off 700-page documents to review anymore. They could not get the same value from digital that they currently got with paper. I completely understood this, and I could offer no digital solution that would offer the same or better value for them. So instead, we agreed that they could continue this if they stopped printing off their emails.
And one last thing…
A recent report by McKinsey & Company put Internal Communications at the forefront of the digital transformation effort.
The study found that the transformation is 5.8 times more likely to be successful when CEOs communicate a “compelling, high-level change story” and 6.3 times more successful when senior leaders share aligned messages with the rest of the company about the change.
So, stop communicating your digital transformation story ‘to them’, and start communicating it ‘for them’.