4 lessons from surprising organizations successfully undertaking digital business transformation

force4change Blog

We have been fortunate this year to be working with amazing customers undertaking significant business transformation focused around enabling their teams with mobile and digital ways of working.

They are also surprising in that they are not the likely candidates to do so successfully or forging ahead. They often have conservative cultures, limited history of change or limited success with change and were low in terms of mobile and technology usage for communications or automation.

However they have been able to achieve rapid success often with the key changes and benefits being achieved within the first 9-12 months. They still have challenges like many organizations in fully realising and achieving their goals but they have surprised themselves, their leaders, and technology partners with progress they have made.

Four lessons from these organizations

1. No matter your organizations success rate with change management or its history your organisation can successfully implement a digital transformation strategy.

Obviously and as we are change management firm – change management is required, however many organizations are dissuaded by their poor history of change that they feel they will not be successful. A key turning point has been the maturity of technologies available, ability to make it fit for purpose and improved user experience, as well as the speed and ease in which they can be integrated into an organization’s environment.

2. Your staff and internal capabilities may be more ready than you think.

Many organizations underestimate the desire of their teams to change and willingness to work with new technologies. While wholesale / big bang approaches are unlikely to succeed or be welcomed well planned changes, and some resistance is to be expected, the majority of staff want to have better tools and ways of working and there are capabilities that when unearthed can help organization’s achieve success. We also help organizations to scout out and identify existing staff that has the traits or existing capabilities, or desire to drive and participate in change to help their organizations.

3. Have a strong vision but take small pragmatic steps and these can lead to leaps and bounds.

There are a plethora of activities required in part due to the nature of digital business transformation. There are a lot of small steps to gain consensus, build awareness and education. Many of these steps however are not linear – taking pragmatic small steps can lead to leaps and bounds as progress is made with each of these steps or stages. For example
Empowering your teams with the right tools may be the first stepping-stone before addressing more significant changes such as organisational design and team structures and addressing performance.

There may be also low hanging fruit that reaps significant benefits and achieve sustainable progress while you work on the more challenging aspects of transformation – an example may be focusing on improving the customer experience or customer service and making small but important improvements. When these improvement gains are sustained over time and combined with the other pragmatic steps that follow they can achieve significant leaps and bounds in an organisations capabilities.

Change doesn’t have to feel like change necessarily and this is important for organisations that are required to implement wave after wave of change to meet their objectives.

Creating interim states or stages of organisational change that are sufficient to shift the dial in preparation for the next stage are also important ways that you can keep being pragmatic without painful wholesale changes.

Ensuring that you keep the pace of change going is however an important factor, there should not be too much delay between achieving gains from each the steps or your organisation will start to loose momentum and or reduce the gains made.

4. Invest in soft skills development and support as much as your technology.

We work with a lot of CRM projects and this is a classic case of hard skills in soft skills approach that is required. Not that this can always be achieved with that approach and sometimes the soft skills will have to follow the learning of a new system.

Even if you focus on core capabilities such as investing in Sales training for sales teams this may not be sufficient learning and capability to deliver your strategy.

There may be supporting roles, managers, leaders that require new skills and capabilities as well as new knowledge.

I hear the statement often from our sales coaching colleagues and peers, having a CRM doesn’t sell, sales people do. This is true, although implementing CRM will definitely see an improvement in sales without addressing the selling capability, as it gives people the right tools and they can improve through the inbuilt processes and behaviours that CRMs such as Salesforce brings – so its always better and a good starting point.

The benefits of CRM are also very much compounding anyway, as you gain more data, more understanding of your customers, the more actionable insights, the more intelligent your sales organisation becomes. It is true that to improve Sales you need both good tools / systems to support Sales and you need to improve Sales skills and performance, however there is also a holistic approach to learning and development that is required.

Why we say that hard skill in soft skills and a more holistic approach to learning is needed is because to achieve results such as significant increases in Sales performance requires coaching for performance and skills at many levels, Sales skills and hard skills for tools, systems and processes for sale reps, skills for managers to coach for performance effectively and leverage the CRM to do that and coaching for performance is really essential for all roles.

Companies that are successful take a holistic approach to learning and ensure that you have sufficiently invested across their core capabilities, as well as their managerial, leadership roles and supporting functions and they develop a programs that addresses their needs from IT, HR, Sales and Marketing, Customer Service. This ensures their teams have the inbuilt capabilities to takes leaps and bounds in digital business transformation and their teams are progress and are ready for each stage.


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