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5 ways to embrace change with digital transformation

Digital transformation is a significant objective for many businesses. It describes how the company leverages rapidly-evolving digital technology to solve problems, and challenge paradigms to improve performance and deliver greater value to customers.

Despite the importance of the strategy, barely half the people surveyed in a study by Nintex really understood what digital transformation entails, and even less could say whether it was being implemented in their organization.

According to the research, only 67% of managers had visibility over their teams’ digital transformation projects, and a little over one-quarter of non-management staff knew those details. What is surprising is that despite this, the majority of decision-makers report positive progress with their digital transformation initiatives. While the results may be positive in a general sense, the lack of communication poses a major challenge for a company seeking to embed change in a meaningful way.

For digital transformation to make a lasting impact, organizations need to strengthen their lines of communication, actively engaging teams, and developing their readiness for change. There are a few key steps they can take towards establishing these essentials that will ensure the success of digital transformation projects.

5 ways to make a change that lasts:

Challenge the status quo

When the way things are done goes unquestioned, opportunities can be lost. Encourage teams to review what they do, and why. When staff is empowered to look for improvements in their processes, your transformation project grows exponentially more effective. Harnessing the power of your workforce in the pursuit of continuous improvement invigorates change and accelerates the increase in value for stakeholders inside and outside the organization.

Catch the wave

Opportunities come in a myriad of shapes and shades. Whether technological improvements or markets shift, in order for a business to capitalize on the trend, they need to be abreast of it. That means keeping a finger on the pulse of industry developments and technology changes. Streamline processes to increase your potential agility, allowing teams to respond quickly when circumstances change. Embed the improvement culture at ground level, so every employee feels empowered and equipped to offer process improvements and potential advances in how things get done. Look for the tools that facilitate this, and integrate all of your objectives, not just one or two.

Keep the goal in focus

Whether it’s tools, processes, or people, every decision needs to line up with the core strategy behind your transformation to keep propelling it forward. That means putting together the right teams, the right technology, and the right structures to achieve it. As you develop new products and processes, align them with the overall objectives. When structuring business units, reviewing processes and assigning governance, keep those strategic objectives in view as the ultimate goals of the change so every decision builds towards greater efficiency and precision.

Empower the people

While digital transformation suggests a technological change, the real power behind it is always going to come from your employees. When staff is engaged in the project, they provide the momentum to push it forward. Company-wide buy-in is a result of being clear about the initiative and celebrating the progress you see towards its goals. Providing training and cheering on champions publicly goes a long way towards encouraging others to run with the strategy across the business.

It’s not just a grass-roots movement though. Seeing leadership champion the changes goes a long way towards raising awareness and enthusiasm. With executives showing the way, other approaches pack more punch. Encouraging cross-functional collaboration, offering incentives through competition or gamification, and generally making it fun for teams to participate helps boost the level of engagement, and so the speed with which change can happen.

Say it like you mean it

In our study, over one-third of decision-makers felt a lack of good communication was a serious issue when trying to pursue digital transformation. While many organizations have a single person taking the lead in such an initiative, communication needs to be holistic to ensure the message is clear and shared widely enough in the business.

Numerous leaders should take responsibility for keeping the message of digital transformation top-of-mind for their departments and business units. Those executives need to keep the message clear and consistent, encouraging teams to participate in improving processes and building capacity. As questions and concerns arise, they need to be competent to address them and build confidence. When leaders are accountable for communications like this, teams have the opportunity to really grasp the importance of digital transformation and most importantly, their place in it.

It was the scientist Charles Darwin who said, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change.” What was true for the dinosaurs remains true for today’s business titans. Whether a start-up or established enterprise, the constantly changing business landscape ensures that only those who are able to adapt and improve will remain competitive.

By developing a culture of continuous improvement and embracing digital transformation, you can build the capacity to respond and move with rapid changes in the market and technologies surrounding it. That agility is what will make the difference and enable your business to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.



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Thomas Kohlenbach

Thomas Kohlenbach is a senior product specialist at Nintex, the global standard for process management and automation. He has over 12 years’ experience implementing initiatives related to continuous improvement (Kaizen/Six Sigma), change management and system integration, across automotive and financial services industries. Thomas is a passionate business improvement advocate who has helped organizations around the world to decrease operational costs and drive cultural change.

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