Digital transformation is the mantra of today’s business but the majority of organisations are still at their earlier stage of the journey. There are five specific hurdles and barriers organisations will face while building an agile digital culture. Being able to acknowledge the problem and to come up with a suitable solution for each challenge will put your business on the right track.
Challenges during the creation of an agile digital culture
All projects face a variety of challenges, and digital transformation is no exception. In the previous part of this series, we have discussed the very first challenge - collaboration between man and machine. Here are the remaining four challenges that leaders will face during the process of building an agile digital culture.
It is natural for people to feel threatened, anxious, or even fearful whenever going through big or small changes. Typically, their reactions can be categorised into two groups: (1) those that fear change, as such, they are more likely to develop resistance and tend to underperform; and (2) those that embrace fear, are willing to go all out and experience so they tend to adapt quickly and thrive more.
To embrace fear:
- Open to trial and error, encourage your employees to take charge of getting used to the new system, and that failure is acceptable, not punishable.
- Be clear and transparent about what the organisation is trying to achieve, how to do it, and how the employees can also benefit from the process.
- Be empathetic and flexible rather than doing things by the book, accept criticisms and feedback as opposed to telling others what they should do.
Ensuring your employees see the values
The digital transformation should be driven from the ground up to ensure long-term success. Essentially, this means providing your employees with the opportunity, time and resources with clearly mapped out development plan to fully test out the new system in various real-life scenarios. Their results, either a failure or success, can then be studied and evaluated against the digital technologies being proposed.
The deep involvement gives your staff a sense of respect, which can give them the confidence to try even more new things instead of sitting back and wondering: “Why should we waste our time and effort in doing this?”
To demonstrate values to your employees:
- Spot the “innovators” within your organisation, those who are not afraid to raise questions about a potential problem and offer an appropriate solution; empower them to experiment with new technology to foster cultural change.
- Introduce the new system in phases and open to feedback at every stage to make your employees feel comfortable and gradually getting used to the change at their own pace.
- Appoint “change agents”, individuals that are capable of leading and motivating others to embrace the transformation.
- Devise new KPIs as your goals now have changed, and your staff also needs a new reward policy that fits the new digital culture.
Read more: Why is collaborative leadership important?
The leader’s role
Agile digital culture should be sought holistically to prevent any silo, encompassing all parties that are directly involved in the project like the employees, as mentioned in the point made above, as well as all internal and external stakeholders.
The role of the leader of the organisation is to create a shared vision of the future and ensure all employees buy into the vision and believe that their contributions to shaping the cultural shift are worthwhile.
However, the leader will also face the same challenge as their employees during the transformation process, that the qualities that got them to where they are now might no longer be applicable in the new digital culture. They are only seen as competent by their peers when they deliberate prove the importance of having an agile digital culture through their capabilities, foresight, and embracing the transformation appropriately.
Their employees and stakeholders will be less inclined to follow their lead if they do not see any value or competence from the leader himself.
To enhance the leader’s role:
- Be well educated, well informed about the whole transformation process so you can guide your employees.
- Be aware of any regulatory changes in your operating environment, such as the release of GDPR may impact the adoption of new technologies.
- Make sure you have praised the employees for their actions in the project and actively looking out for them by frequently update on their progress
- Proactively seeking improvements and try out new strategies to improve morale and motivation.
The traditional “command and control” method is no longer fitting today. To thrive in this digital era requires speed and constant adjustments.
The core reason as to why people resist change is due to a lack of clear communication. Thus, living agile comes down to democratising decision-making and creating a culture of open information flow.
Promoting a straightforward, transparent discussion can prevent any conflict or scepticism from appearing if the technology does not work as expected. Ensuring the right people get the right information and improving the speed at which the information is delivered can save your organisation time and effort in correcting rumours.
To promote living agile:
- Technologies always evolve. Thus, digital transformation is an ongoing process that best suited for organisations and individuals that are flexible.
- Detect tension points through frequent feedback and use conflict mapping to locate where problems are most likely to occur.
- Be open to the mixed mindsets as there are no right or wrong answers, and mindsets can change.
The above-discussed challenges in creating a culture fitting for the digital transformation process are not IT issues, nor operational issues but human ones. Also not mentioned in today’s article is the size, shape, and the industry that the organisations are in as these should not be a hurdle in a digital world, in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.
Each organisation will have a unique plan of their own to tackle the digital transformation. It’s time for you to take action, and create a culture that harbours change and treats technology advancements as opportunities to leap forward instead of pitfalls of doom.