There have been various publications that reference how important culture is within an organization; especially when that organization is going through any Digital Transformation initiative.  It requires leadership teams that are responsible for strategic pivots and adaptations to any changes in operations, technology, markets, and so on. 

This blog post will focus on how the best teams prepare for complex changes.  Pushing for change requires some essentials, and we will break these down into 5 elements.  Successful Digital Transformation requires all five elements to be considered, and if you miss any, it might spell disaster for the results you hoped to achieve.

For Alliance Systems, many of our opportunities are centered around Digital Transformation type initiatives, so we like to share this framework for change with our prospects and clients. Dr. Lippit, an expert and author in change management, provides a framework solution for complex change as an elegant solution.  Dr Lippit breaks down the framework as a recipe with five essential ingredients:

Vision
Vision
Skills
Skills
Incentives
Incentives
Resources
Resources
Action Plan
Action Plan

The main rule at play is… if you are missing one or more of the essential ingredients, you will experience friction which reduces your chances for successful transformation.  Let’s take a look at all the categories in more detail to understand more for practical implementation.

 5 Change Ingredients

 

Vision

Vision

Without Vision, you will have a team that is CONFUSED

Out of all five essential elements, this might be the most important one of all.  Consider this your North Star, where all teams need to be aligned to understand the WHY behind an organization’s operations.  Most organizations with strong leadership are known to have clarity when it comes to their vision.  Breaking down any vision into clear, simple and understandable context isn’t easy.  It takes time to properly develop a communications plan that everyone is engaged with and commits to as a culture.

This is where having intelligent and charismatic leaders makes a huge difference.  They can deliver and explain the vision so everyone in their organization is aligned.  The bottom line is, eliminate confusion by working on your goals.  If your team is confused about where the company is headed, it will have ripple effects across all the other categories shared in this post.

 

Skills

Skills

Without appropriate Skills, you will have ANXIETY

Skills are the functional, technical, and emotional competencies necessary to manage a transformation.  There are a couple of ways to view this.  The first one is leveling up.  This means providing education and training that expands the skillset within the workforce.  Consider it a growth mindset opportunity, the belief that we can all improve and do better through education and application of what we have learned.  Most people see education as an advantage and welcome when organizations help them achieve more by adding skillsets to their tool box.

Another example is hiring new skills.  If you don’t have the current skillsets necessary, create a strategic plan to acquire such skills that will assist with new products and or services.  The last thing you want is your team feeling anxious by not understanding how they will deliver when skillsets required don’t exist.

The final thought is a hybrid approach where training is provided and you hire for new skills.  This blend typically yields the quickest results.

 

Incentives

Incentives

Without the right Incentives, you will have a team that is RESISTANT

Incentives answer the foundational question, “What is in it for me?” Rewards need to be at various levels – individuals, teams, business units, and the enterprise itself.  Many people immediate think about salaries, bonuses and promotions; and although this is normal, it isn’t the only way to reward your team. 

There are various other ways to provide the right incentives, and this is where you can get creative.  The good news is there are various options for you to consider such as:

Essentially, your team wants to understand the before and after scenario for the change.  And what you are after is clarity on what improvements the change will make.  Sometimes, clearly explaining the benefits and optimizations that everyone will enjoy is the jumpstart you need.

 

Resources

Resources

Without the right type and number of Resources, you will have a team that is FRUSTRATED

Resources refer to human resources, budgetary resources, raw material, tools and methodologies, frameworks and templates.  A real transformation necessitates a vast array of resources.  Asking your team to take on a big challenge without the right resources will feel like an uphill battle.

A simple example is thinking though any DIY home project, which most of us have participated in at one point in our life.  Whether it’s painting a room, assembling a swing set, or building a dog house.  Even when you are on a constrained budget, you need to plan for the right number of resources.  Sometimes this just means having the right instructions, tools, and pieces to achieve a goal.

Have you ever had a job, but you are missing a critical tool that can make that job more enjoyable or enable you to complete the job better and faster?  Mowing a lawn with a push lawnmower is no big deal.  But when that lawn is enormous, you may consider investing in a riding lawnmower.

And that is the point, resources can be considered strategic investments to keep your team happy, organized and optimized.  Plan for the right resources to eliminate frustration.

 

Action Plan

Action Plan

Without an Action Plan, you will have a team that experiences FALSE STARTS

The action plan is a thoughtful roadmap with incremental and sequential steps and clustering of similar pieces of work into logical work streams and significant milestones. 

Having a great plan of action enables your organization to circumnavigate obstacles.  Being prepared is such a basic principle, but it is impossible to pre-plan everything.  You have to be organized and realistic; which means acknowledging that you better leave room for flexibility in matters of uncertainty.

There are various approaches and methodologies such as Agile that help teams execute, even when they don’t have all of the information at their disposal.  This is where process, culture and how the team reacts to challenge matters greatly. 

The end goal is a balanced plan. Having no plan is horrible, and delaying execution for a perfect plan that doesn’t exist is not great either.  Ensure that your communications are clear and you set proper expectations along the way with attainable milestones.  This will eliminate starts and stops and reduce friction.

 

Summary

As promised, we covered five essential elements required to improve your chances at successfully achieving any complex change.  Dr. Lippit’s framework covers the why behind each element.

So, as you set out to execute your initiatives, make sure you take all of these elements into consideration and incorporate them into your planning.

Whether it is a Digital Transformation or any other project, we hope that this blog post was helpful in preparing you for challenges ahead.  Become the change agent everyone wants to work with and achieve great things.

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