By Richard Arneson
“Change is the only constant.” — Heraclitus, Greek philosopher
Change—it’s a word that’s dreaded by many, feared by most and embraced by few. But even if you fall into the latter, you can’t deny there’s at least some level of trepidation prior to entering the world of the unknown. Change can be so daunting it has become its own cottage industry—there are over 70,000 book titles on Amazon.com that address the subject, roughly the same as weight loss.
But using the word “change” to describe your company’s use of a new technology to help support its digital transformation goals seems inadequate. Sure, it can mean new processes to learn, different reports to analyze, loads of new data from which to glean information, and unfamiliar dashboards to navigate, but it’s far more than change. Remember, we’re talking transformation, as in jumping into the digital evolution stream feet first and letting it carry you downriver to higher profits. In a recent Gartner study, well over fifty percent (50%) of CEOs cited improved profitability as their ultimate goal when implementing new technologies and achieving digital transformation.
When implementing a new technology—or multiple ones—consider the following to help allay the change-based fears that will certainly exist within your organization.
Transparency is the best policy
Share with employees why these new technologies are being implemented and how, even though change isn’t easy, they will ultimately result in an enhanced working environment and a more profitable company. But don’t just tell them, show them. Provide concrete examples of organizations who have enjoyed the success you’ll soon achieve. If you’re not transparent with your organization, the imminent changes won’t be met with very open arms. A lack of transparency will result in negativity that will spread throughout your organization at breakneck speed. You’re trying to motivate them to want, not dread, the coming changes.
Openly share your digital transformation roadmap
Once employees know what they’ll soon enjoy from the introduction of any new technology, share with them exactly how you’ll get there and the importance that each employee will play in the transformation. Leave nothing to interpretation, but ensure the roadmap is realistic and attainable. Springing on them your goal to go from 0 to 60 in less than a couple of seconds will quickly steer your organization down the road to anxiety. And remember, this is a very good job market. If your employees are overwhelmed, calls from recruiters will be better received and possibly given greater consideration. And once the roadmap is shared, solicit feedback. Make employees feel like their concerns aren’t falling on deaf ears.
Set up a system of support
Introduce detailed training plans for each department and customize them accordingly. A training or video series for the marketing department shouldn’t look the same as ones for IT—let’s face it, they speak different languages. If employees feel that their time is being wasted by sitting through training that may provide little or no help as it relates to their position, cynicism will begin to seep in and the negativity will soon flow throughout their departments.
Have champions from each department carry the banner for a new technology, and enlist them to help customize training for their respective department. Not customizing it may speak volumes, whether true or not, about how much care and consideration a new technology or the entire digital transformation journey has been given.
Anticipate the problems…sorry, but there’ll be some
As part of your roadmap, include how, when snags or issues surface, you’re prepared to address them promptly and comprehensively. Let them know that the journey will be escorted by procedures, practices and personnel who will remediate issues that surface.
And problems aren’t only reserved for break-downs or overseen issues. They should include how changes to the roadmap will be addressed. First drafts are never perfect out of the shoot. There are issues you’ll face, even if it’s impossible to see them ahead of time. Get ready…there will be a need at some point for the roadmap to be adjusted or altered.
Ease into it
First time skiers don’t start on the black slopes. The same goes for the adoption of new technologies. Start on the green slopes of the roll-out phases. Learn from those, let employees see how it’s done and that it can be done. Show them that the roadmap is leading your organization in the right direction. Then move to the blue slopes, and on to the black. And once a phase is successfully implemented, don’t haphazardly move on to the next. If it’s possible, budget time to let them learn the new system, the tools, reporting, et al. Let them get used to it, get their hands a little dirty, and take a few breaths prior to moving to the next phase.
Call on the experts
Change is never easy, but leaving it up to chance can devastate morale, create unnecessary personnel attrition and adversely affect your bottom line. That’s why working with a company that’s helped many organizations of all sizes and from a variety of industries achieve their digital transformation goals should be a key element of your technology roadmap. GDT’s tenured, talented solutions architects, engineers and security analysts understand how to positively incorporate change by designing and deploying innovative solutions that help customers realize positive business outcomes. By being customer- and outcome- focused, GDT helps organizations transform their legacy environments into highly productive digital infrastructures and architectures. You can reach them at SolutionsArchitects@GDT.com or at Engineering @GDT.com. They’d love to hear from you.
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