Did you know that 70% of all digital transformation initiatives fail before they even begin? According to studies conducted by McKinsey, Oxford University, KPMG, et al., that’s the percent likelihood team members believe the project they are working on will indeed fail.
With such dire realities staring them in the face, what can business leaders do to help ensure digital transformation success? It starts with a commitment to project success that flows from the CEO to the individual contributor.
When companies achieve buy-in across all company levels, the likelihood of digital transformation success increases exponentially.
There are many ways to get everyone on the same page. For brevity’s sake, here are five tips to start down the pathway:
- Cultural Transformation
Organizations with cultures supportive of digital transformation are more likely to achieve their goals. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) studied 40 digital transformations and discovered that organizations emphasizing culture were five times more apt to achieve breakthrough results than those that did not pay attention to culture.
An excellent first step is determining if an organization’s culture aligns with project goals. Business leaders can do this by conducting assessments. If the outcome shows a need for improvement, there are many actions they can take; however, there is one approach that works famously:
Give your team the freedom to talk about everyday matters and take action on those matters.
When your employees see that you’re interested in hearing what they have to say, and then you act on those matters, that’s a big step in the right direction. Imagine how powerful the collective impact could be for an organization, where each employee feels seen and heard!
- Positive Mindsets
Closely related to cultural transformation is the need for having the right organizational mindsets. Success will be harder to find if employees involved in the transformation process (and eventually the end-users) don’t see the initiative’s benefits.
There are various ways to help with healthy mindset formation, but if leaders can demonstrate care for and practice authenticity with employees, doing so can make a significant difference.
When leaders intentionally model these characteristics and employees feel cared for and understood, employees can experience greater freedom to be themselves. These lived-out values can cause a surge of employee creativity and enthusiasm for their work. This new reality can cause a tremendous shift in mindset across the organization, providing fertile ground for embracing company initiatives.
- Communication & Change Management Planning
Too many initiatives have failed due to a lack of proper communication of the planned changes. If business leaders do not communicate these changes to employees affected by the change, employees can feel left out and may not buy into company initiatives.
That’s why it’s critical to create a change management plan before launching initiatives. Doing so can help minimize the discomfort employees may experience once the new system and process go live.
A key element to this plan would be to consult with employees who will be impacted most by changes to get their feedback during the project planning phase.
Here’s an example of what not to do; if Rachel isn’t consulted upfront about what would change with her job and her role significantly varies, she may not want to use the new system. If this happens across the board, this can cause a tremendous burden on the company to fix widespread issues.
- Goal Setting & Accountability
While in planning mode, it is best to include accountability goals around these initiatives that flow from the C-Suite level down to individual contributors.
In flatter organizations with higher levels of employee engagement and healthy cultures, business leaders can do this quite simply. For instance, these organizations can ensure accountability occurs regularly through Agile tools.
For larger organizations where accountability is unclear, high-level goals that exist at the C-Suite level can translate into supportive goals for project teams or individual employees.
Please note: if business leaders have done an excellent job of transforming culture and improving mindsets, this task should be much easier to accomplish.
- Proper Use of Agile Frameworks
Most organizations that undertake digital transformation initiatives already use Scrum and other Agile tools. For those who don’t, the use of Agile tools can be game-changing.
For instance, Daily Stand-Up meetings provide a 15-minute time block where project team members share project status. Each one has the opportunity to share what they accomplished in the previous day, what they plan to work on that day, and what issues they are experiencing. Consistently holding these meetings and using the proper format can fuel project success.
Sprint Reviews or Demos provide an excellent opportunity for project team members to inform stakeholders what they have accomplished in the most recent Sprint. Ensuring that the right stakeholders consistently attend and encouraging them to provide valuable feedback is essential. Doing so ensures that stakeholders regularly receive project updates.
Finally, Agile teams that diligently hold Sprint Retrospectives can significantly contribute to project success. When team members consistently give feedback on what went well with the Agile process, what can be improved, and then make plans to act upon the suggestions, this results in a more efficient and effective Agile process. Furthermore, teams that include Stakeholders in Retrospectives can multiply improvement opportunities to a greater degree.
Some organizations don’t see value in these process improvement meetings, and they are the ones missing out!
In the end, having buy-in from everyone in the organization is essential for digital transformation success. Although there are several ways to go about this, these five tips are a great place to start to help ensure digital transformation success.
Written by Kathy Kent Toney.
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