By Lisa Bondesio, Founder of Chiridion

Lisa Bondesio

Have you noticed that the world is spinning a little faster?  Are you prepared for change? Is your organisation transformation ready?  

In today’s business climate, change is rapid and often disruptive. Competitive advantage can quickly become a commodity, so it’s no surprise that organisations are accelerating digital transformation – and moving rapidly to adopt new technology to improve and transform their business processes, add value to their customers and respond nimbly to volatile external conditions.

Recent figures suggest that global spending on digital transformation is projected to reach 1.8 trillion US dollars in 2022, rising to 2.8 trillion by 2025 (Statistica).  In other research, 87% of companies think digital will disrupt their industry, but only 44% are prepared for it. (Deloitte)

Traditional ways of delivering a transformation programme are being abandoned in favour of a more responsive, iterative approach. Agile is often used to describe this way of working.  Originally a manifesto for software development, the iterative and responsive characteristics of agile have – over time – been transposed to a model of change that delivers cumulative outcomes. For instance, we talk about agile organisations, where a stable ecosystem of empowered teams delivers change in increments throughout the transformation life cycle.

It’s the unconstrained nature of agile working that gives many leaders the jitters. Primarily, this is because they assume that agile means ‘no rules’ and that ‘no rules’ equates to ‘nothing delivered’.  However, organizations that successfully deploy agile transformations put processes and technology in place to support rapid and flexible action so that change can be delivered at speed.  They have a culture that places people at the centre and engages and empowers everyone. They have clear protocols for decision-making and flexible, cross-functional teams who operate with high standards of alignment, accountability, and collaboration. In other words, they create the conditions for freedom within a framework.

If digital transformation represents a cultural shift to more intelligent ways of doing business, then iterative change models provide the foundation on which to build more intentional change programmes.  Intentional is the key word here.  The temptation is to rush headlong toward a digital future. This is like turning up to Mount Everest with flip-flops and a head torch and expecting to go for a walk. Perilous without preparation.

Successful digital transformation is more than data and cutting-edge technology. The level of change required is both individual and institutional. So, preparing the organisation for what lies ahead requires close examination of culture, talent, and structure.  Upgrading digital skill sets, building a growth mindset, and reconfiguring the organisational design are all pre-requisite if you are to align people, processes, and technology.  Leadership is critical, as is building an environment that truly supports people-centred change.  This is where iterative change management can play a role.

It probably sounds counter-intuitive, but to go faster you need to plan better upfront. This is certainly true if you are using iterative change techniques to realise a digital step change. Plan thoroughly, start small and build up over time. Stay flexible in your methods by creating adaptive, living programme plans. Encourage experimentation and foster collaboration. Build in time for dialogue and actively solicit feedback from the teams and individuals who are impacted.

And yes, you will need to invest. Be prepared to commit greater resources to manage the transformation – this applies equally to sponsor involvement, communication load and softer skillsets if you want to be the sort of organisation that is digital, rather than one doing digital things.

About the author
Lisa Bondesio is the founder of Chiridion. An independent consultant she works with large organisations to design and build digital transformation programmes. She was one of the speakers at the IRM European Business Change and Transformation conference in London.

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