According to one recent study of large-scale IT implementations, 17% of large IT projects go so badly that they can threaten the very existence of the company. Another report on “change” projects found that only 40% of projects met schedule, budget and quality goals.
Given those figures on the difficulty of achieving change, it’s no wonder that effective business transformation is a perennial hot topic at Digital BrainFest.
At the 2016 Digital BrainFest, the business transformation session generated a great deal of animated discussion and information sharing among the panel of experts from Aol, Bank of America and Infinitive’s own Brian Gomolka. And that was with just one central question under discussion: How do you strike the balance between formulating a strategy, and implementing it?
Transforming to Meet New Business Demands: Lessons Learned to Thrive or Die started with the dictionary definition of transformation: “A thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” The session panel and attendees all seemed in tune with the definition, especially the idea of a “dramatic” – i.e. complex and complicated – and thorough evolution that involves everyone within an organization.
So how should companies manage these dramatic, thorough initiatives from strategic planning to implementation? Over the course of the session’s robust discussion, two key factors for finding equilibrium between transformation strategy and implementation emerged:
Use Data & Communication to Take Business Transformation from Strategy to Implementation
Infinitive Principal Wayne Campagna opened the panel discussion by asking “Do we know what we SHOULD be doing?” According to research from the Project Management Institute:
88% of executive leaders consider strategy implementation important, yet 61% percent also acknowledge that their organizations are struggling to bridge the gap between strategy formulation and its day-to-day implementation.
On the one hand, you don’t want to dive into execution without proper strategic planning. But on the other, your organization can become paralyzed with hesitation and doubt over its readiness to proceed before that strategy is absolutely perfect.
That’s why it’s so important to keep the two in equilibrium for effective change to happen.
For example, one challenge we’ve seen in our work with clients is lots of attention and effort in implementation, without sufficient strategic focus on how to get users to actually adopt the new tool or process. Check out this user adoption infographic for more on why it’s key to successful tool or process rollouts.
Data-Driven Change: Clearly Identifying & Communicating the “Why” of Change Initiatives
Our panelists discussed some important ideas around driving change with data, an important factor, given that this year’s Digital BrainFest centered on the theme DATA IS THE NEW CURRENCY. As one panelist said, “Discussions [about transformation initiatives] change very quickly when they’re fact-based.” Another panelist agreed, saying:
If you get facts [and] data up front, the transformation process goes so much more smoothly – it is more efficient [when] you eliminate all the noise.
The “pay now or pay later” nature of many transformation efforts, relative to defining and sharing a vision for change, was another big talking point. That includes a deep understanding of “What’s in it for me?” (WIFM).
Without clear insight and understanding – and effective communication of WIFM and the “why” of a given change initiative across the organization – you may have a lot of quiet resistance and passive-aggressive behavior. Those could present obstacles to successful implementation of your change project.
An additional angle of discussion addressed people’s natural reluctance to change. People don’t like to be told they need to behave differently. Additionally, they are “hesitant to destroy” what they’ve built – especially if it’s been a successful business.
It takes what one person called “incredible courage to bring up those difficult conversations,” and confront resistance. And when your transformation initiative isn’t going well? That’s another time when communication is key. “Bumps [in the road] are normal,” said one panelist – but those hiccups must be properly and promptly acknowledged and solved.
The bottom line is that change is hard. Much of change revolves around managing people – especially overcoming their resistance to change. Making your transformation process more data-driven and transparent is one way to go from strategic planning, to actual implementation, and finally, successful change.
Visit the Digital BrainFest Highlights page for additional recaps, videos and takeaways from this year’s event.