Hackernoon logoProper Communication Helps Make Digital Transformation Smooth by@tatianazheltomirska

Proper Communication Helps Make Digital Transformation Smooth

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@tatianazheltomirskaTatiana Zheltomirska

Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at Innovecs

Successful business equals a constant way forward. The pandemic required companies to accelerate their digital transformation journey, embracing secure and reliable systems, providing easy access to corporate data across remote locations. 

According to The Digital Transformation Report by Fujitsu, 46 percent of surveyed organizations have fulfilled their digital transformation projects and managed to deliver results. The criteria of success differ from one company to another, depending on specific corporate goals, the scale of business, and the nature of clients. A certain percentage of companies can and will cease their digital transformation projects due to one common misconception — that digital transformation is just about technology. 

Transformation implies a fundamental change in corporate culture, structure, and processes. It is all about finding the perfect balance between old and new approaches, investments, and returns, long-run effectiveness, and near-term disruption. Since employee pushback and resistance are among the first obstacles on the way to digital transformation, the process demands clear-cut communication, transparency, and commitment to constant change. 

Agility in the first place

There are things that once made a company successful and may no longer be relevant for today. With this in mind, a company must be quick to adjust to market changes. Agility is not a new concept: its history began after the Manifesto for Agile Software Development in 2001. Since then, however, changing patterns, attitudes, values, and processes have been a challenging task for leadership across the globe. The 2019 Business Agility Institute Report reveals that 69 percent of respondents have been on their business agility journey for more than one year. 

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Source: The Business Agility Report

Agility is ubiquitous and penetrates all levels. Strategic agility implies being able to sense the emerging challenges of the market and assess their prospects in the long run. 

Robust culture and leadership are the bridge between the strategy and its execution. From the senior executive's perspective, agility itself is a mindset and a culture. It is born on the highest organizational level and then nurtured by the entire company. There are common practices to achieve organizational agility. They include reduction of hierarchy levels, self-organization in teams, and remote mode. 

Agile business equals quality multiplied by speed. Operational agility is all about delivering measurable results. This can be achieved by using various methodologies and frameworks plus seamless communication between all the stakeholders: the employees, departments, clients, etc. Processes require utmost visibility, therefore, using appropriate digital tools proves useful.

Digital transformation in practice

For Microsoft, a multi-billion giant, digital transformation meant developing new values and new culture. By 2014 Microsoft was on the edge. Things began to change when Satya Nadella joined the company as its CEO. 

"Listen to your customers and your employees, they are the most important thing and define your business.” — Satya Nadella.

Taking over the leadership position meant reinventing the corporate culture of 130,000 people. He had the task of turning around the mindset of each employee, therefore, he started with a reorganization and elimination of redundant levels for the sake of increased agility.

Being future-oriented, Nadella developed a strategy of mobile-first, customer-oriented products and services. The needs of users at various points in life were put at the core.

Back in the old days, Microsoft was a corporation of severe internal competition and destructive culture. The change in the business model was supported by a fundamental cultural shift. Planting the seeds of growth mentality, nurturing them, and supporting them across the flattened organization makes Microsoft what it is today. 

“Technology is definitely a part of digital transformation, but unless leaders can win hearts and minds throughout the process, efforts can stall or be less successful than they could be. Failing to align the goals of a digital transformation with employee values and behavior can create additional risks to an organization’s culture, such as low morale and inability to attract talent. Ensuring the transformation aligns with the culture reduces challenges and helps avoid roadblocks", — Carey Oven, a partner with Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory at Deloitte & Touche LLP

According to Nik Puri, Senior Vice President of IT at Federal Express also known as FedEx, the company has been on a digital transformation journey for about 20 years.

In order to see the exponential capability of embracing the change, FedEx combined quality with an employee-centric culture based on care and learning. An entire philosophy was created — 'People-Service-Profit' and it was a certain balance between all the stakeholders. Commitment to this philosophy enabled a smooth transformation. 

As we can see from these examples, it is rather a behavioral change. Therefore, a company has to define the culture upfront — the one that is necessary for desired results. Having a role model is vital for corporate change of this magnitude. Leading the transformation means being empathetic, self-aware, and having a clear idea of what environment drives innovation. 

Proper communication as a driver of positive changes

Throughout the digital transformation, process communication plays a pivotal role. Apart from having goals and linking them with the corporate strategy, senior executives must think about how they convey messages to their employees.

Ask yourself a few questions: what are the essential cultural attributes to drive positive changes? What will help us to boost creativity, and new ideas? Leaders must consistently communicate values and transformative vision on a regular basis. Again, the balance is everywhere: make sure to find the correct proportion of innovative mentality and culture of risk aversion. Be clear with your staff about them. 

To sum up, here are the tips to smoothen the process of digital transformation:

  1. Define your own metrics of digital transformation based on your industry research and share them with your team. 
  2. Assess all the risks linked to the organization and people, and decide whether you are prepared for the possible results. Changes in tools and processes require having a robust employee learning and development system. Otherwise, you will need to hire new people. 
  3. Choose your 'change agents'. Whether formal or informal leaders, there has to be a critical mass in an organization to promote the changes. Make sure you reward them for being the first to embrace transformation. 
  4. Mind the ethical aspect. Transparency is crucial. You cannot let employees simply face the fact that digital transformation is a must, therefore, share preliminary research across the teams and give a clear rationale of changes.  
  5. Acknowledge your achievements. Share little successes with employees so that they see the link between changes and corporate outcomes.

In this article Tatiana Zheltomirska, Chief Marketing & Experience Officer at Innovecs, discusses the pillars of successful digital transformation and explains why it is not just about technology.

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