May 20, 2018

The Transformation Game, not for the Faint of Heart

Office image representing the digital transformation race

By: Alina A., SVP, Technology Operations

Businesses are continuously evolving, adapting, changing and abandoning new technology. New industry developments and technological advancements have the potential to expand current revenue streams or open doors to grow new business. If done poorly or incorrectly companies open themselves to reputational risk, customer loss and financial downturns. In a world of constant innovation how can we remain successful in the digital transformation race?

High Functioning Leadership & Teams


Having talented, hard-working staff and management teams is the dream scenario, but there are bound to be ups and downs along the way. Finding a unique way to mobilize all teams is truly an essential part of ensuring an organizations success. Without motivating goals and incentives, unique motivation tactics, collaborative teams, and accessible executive’s, organizations may not thrive or survive.

 Organizations must continuously enhance their soft leadership skills and work to strengthen the executive presence. Leaders need to inspire others, to get buy-in on their vision, and to empower and motivate those carrying out the work. When you have people or teams who do not feel connected to leadership, or to new organizational goals, they can knowingly or accidentally sabotage progress. Having strongly aligned leadership philosophies and principles helps people to understand leaderships vision.

Creating Momentum in the Organization

shutterstock_1064038934When the message is to transform an organization, people often hear the word “change”. This can be interpreted as scary, hard, and extra work. The key is to lead with positivity. Start the process by solving someone’s problems. Show them how this transformation will help them. Find and embrace the early adapters of the new methodology. Influencing through others is a huge help. Connecting with the people in your organization is the key to getting group buy in. It gives credibility to the vision and can help build stronger relationships with those tasked at ensuring the transformation takes place.

Align goals and incentives to match business motivators. When people clearly know what they are working towards and what the expected rewards can be (bonus, promotion, responsibility changes) they stay more on track. When goals are met be sure to acknowledge them. Positive reinforcement in the workforce leads to happier people and a healthier work environment.

Lead by example. As I said above, change can be hard, scary and lead to extra work. Showing others you are willing to “roll up your sleeves” and jump right in with everyone else is a great way to set the playing field. Working hard and being strong enough to take risks and stepping outside the box can motivate others to do this as well.

Universal Lessons Learned

 Failure is as normal as success. Reframe how you view failure because it will happen to you. It is not a requirement of an evolution, but at some point, it can happen. Understanding when it is O.K. to fail and when it is not an option will help you interpret and respond to the situation. This will have a huge impact on the overall outcome. Failure gives you richer insights, take full advantage of these. You now can see things in a way you could not before. The biggest lesson learned is that inaction is the only form of failure that has a negative effect.

The same change at a different time may result in a different outcome. There are many factors that play into success or failure, timing being a big one. You need to think about organizational maturity and readiness. If it didn’t work the first time it may not have been the right timing. You need to have a pulse on your organization. What is their current appetite for change?  There may be many other important initiatives in place that could compete or derail this one. Deciding the appropriate time and appropriate method will have a huge impact on the results

Competitive Advantage

 The path you lay out may not be the one you follow. Laying out a path, and being flexible with adjusting it when needed will aid the success of a transformation. This could mean two steps back and one step forward. Pay attention and learn “why” things have strayed off plan. It is important to know when to listen and when to lead. Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. When you foster an environment of open communication team members will not fear relaying distressing or bad news in a timely manner. Knowing when plans are falling off track will help to put guard rails into place to meet a successful end result.

The ability to mobilize resources to do something new or different is a competitive advantage, which is more powerful than actual change. Anyone can have an idea, but not everyone can execute on the idea. Transformation is all about strategizing, executing and deploying on that idea. To transform you must empower. To successfully empower you must call to action. When is someone is called to act, they mobilize. When an entire organization mobilizes they have the power to transform.