This blog is number two in a series of three that I am writing about the challenge of digital transformation for technology companies.
In the first blog here I looked at the opportunities, threats and responses to the need to deliver disruptive transformation.In this second blog I’m looking at the Critical Success Factors (CSFs) required for successful transformation. And all the evidence points to the fact that businesses are wrestling with this issue – according to the McKinsey Transformation Change survey just 26% of companies accomplish their performance objectives and can lay the groundwork for sustained results.
I also recently read 'Transforming Nokia: the power of paranoid optimism to lead through colossal change’ by Risto Siilasmaa, the current Chairman of Nokia. It’s a great read for anyone who needs to radically transform their business. He vividly describes the transformation of Nokia from a failing handsets manufacturer to a successful global technology leader. One of my favourite quotes in the book is:
“There’s an old saying that a leader without followers is just a guy taking a walk. Transforming an organization’s culture requires commitment from the top. But you need to convince people to change their habits and follow you.”
This excerpt absolutely encapsulates what is required. Successfully delivering disruptive transformation requires leaders to lead the change. Not just ‘championing’ it but displaying ‘hands on’ leadership. It cannot be delegated. In fact, delegating the leadership of transformational change is a sure-fire indicator of program under-performance.
And, then there is second point in this quote. Just wanting to be a strong change leader is insufficient. Leaders need the capabilities to engage people in successful transformation. In the book, Siilasmaa describes the lengths he went to, to engage with people and to build the trust and engagement required to save the company. He knew that tangible change couldn’t happen by ‘just telling people what to do’.
Building out from this idea, if you want to lead successful transformation in your Technology Company then there are four Critical Success Factors that you will need to master to drive transformation in a way that creates the trust and engagement required for success.
You need to:
1. Lead change effectively. Leaders need to know how to personally lead change AND how to enrol other change leaders in driving the change. People are far more likely to understand and energetically support an initiative when they observe leadership behaviour that is both aligned and supportive. We know that actions beat words every time. Leaders need to be ready to role model the changes required. A common mistake we see is that leaders of poorly performing transformations often tend to talk passionately (if, sometimes inconsistently) about the change - but their team and other employees still observe them exhibiting the old behaviours.
2. Create a shared purpose for change. Leaders need to share a compelling case for change that motivates people. Communicating a shared purpose helps create urgency and energy. It is the critical first step to launch an initiative, it helps people focus and maintain their resolve during the change process. We observe that organizations who discuss the change purpose and enable them to create a version of their own story are often more successful. In other words, “telling” is tempting but often sub-optimal. That’s why we use the preface “shared”.
3. Put in place powerful engagement processes. Leaders need to engage with the organization to build commitment and overcome resistance. The key is to sustain this effort until the benefits of the change have been realised and new behaviours are firmly embedded in the culture. These processes must provide ways for people to connect with the change effectively. There are four key processes that help people break away from the past and provide support for the new ways of working. They are:
• two-way communication
• guided learning
• and appropriate rewards,
4. Ensure effective deployment on the front line. If you want to deliver transformational and disruptive change then you need teams in the front line to be able to deliver the changes that are required. We see many organizations build wonderful change plans that never get fully implemented either because colleagues lack the motivation to change or lack the skills to execute what is needed. You will need to build team leaders’ commitment and skills to deliver the change, help teams to build the commitment, skills and behaviours necessary for success and enable people to adapt to the change with minimal disruption.
So, how do traditional change management processes such as impact and readiness to change assessments fit with these CSFs? The principle role of these assessments is to identify specific change risks that either likely to occur or have occurred as you move through the change process. Once those risks are identified you can use the capabilities in the CSFs to manage them.
In the next and final blog in this series I will discuss the tools and processes that are needed to deliver the CSFs. But in the meantime, I wanted to highlight the fact that elements of these 4 CSFs are part of our own approach to delivering change as shown below.
Deliver against your 4 Critical Success Factors with Roadmap Pro
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