Archive Monthly Archives: October 2018

How C-Suite Executives Lead Digital Transformation, Part 3: Drive

Your company has untapped potential. But potential isn’t the issue. Priorities are. Sometimes, potential needs to fade. Priorities for C-Suite Executives, like how to lead Digital Transformation, must never.

You have made digital transformation a priority, rallied the agents of change (Part 1), and crafted the elements of change (Part 2). Now you must drive the change. Digital Transformations stall or die. They stall or die because they were never really the priority in the first place; the whole idea was just potential. Four commitments drive priorities.

Communicate

Companies must build on six P.I.L.L.A.R.S of communication.

1.   Paint a picture of the change you are after. Companies forget mission or change focus, especially when outside voices begin to be heard, such as vendors.

2.   Inform. Update on progress; make data accessible.

3.   Lift up people. Who is making strides? What team reached a milestone?

4.   Lead others into the process. You must get out in front with as many as possible. Waiting for peers will put you behind. Someone said, “If you want me there at the crash landing, invite me to the launch.”

5.   Apply change. Help people understand This Not That. Tell stories of elements of change being done right.

6.   Resolve Conflict. Conflict usually occurs because people have different information or different interpretation or different interests at stake. Leaders turn confrontations into conversations wherein parties are listening to learn, speaking to be understood and seeking common solution not just cease-fire.

7.   Steer the change process when it gets off course. Urgency will arise. Unforeseen circumstances will appear. Drivers of transformation keep returning people to the picture of the change you all are after.

Connect Resources 

Are mentors, coaches and skill trainers available to the teams implementing Digital Transformation?

What cross-disciplines, team-pollination will advance rather than impede development?

Are we wrestling through issues that requires outside expertise?

Can we trust the outside help to be an unbiased stakeholder?

Act

No one wants to act in such a way that money and resources are wasted by having to go back and redo work.

But Digital Transformation gets sidelined when too much is invested in perfecting systems.

Leaders who drive push for tests and implementation. As long as teams have been communicating and viable cautions have been addressed, then sometimes you just have to ship.

Celebrate

Digital Transformations are not just about corporate change. Celebration at the end is appropriate: Change has been made. But celebrations along the way reinforce that people are the ones making the change. The end is a product of great minds and talents within the initiative. It’s hard to acknowledge everyone who was involved at an end of mission celebration: Like a long list of credits at the end of the movie, no one will really pay attention. End of mission celebrations often end up focused on the C-Suite Executives. But if everyone is acknowledged meaningfully along the way, they will share in the joy and applaud your leadership.

Digital Transformation is on you. It is your company. Rally your stakeholders. Craft what is uniquely you. Drive it home.

How C-Suite Executives Lead Digital Transformation and Avoid Stall Or Failure, Part 2

The Birmingham Sunday Mercury reported in December 2000:

Bosses of a publishing firm are trying to work out why no one noticed that one of their employees had been sitting dead at his desk for five days before anyone asked if he was feeling OK.

 

George Turklebaum, 51, who had been employed as a proofreader at a New York firm for 30 years, had a heart attack in the open-plan office he shared with 23 other workers.

He quietly passed away on Monday but nobody noticed until Saturday morning when an office cleaner asked him why he was still working during the weekend.

How do you walk past a dead guy?

In his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud writes about the importance of pruning. He teaches that a gardener cuts off branches and buds that are healthy but not the best or sick but not going to get well or dead and taking up space needed for healthy ones to survive. He then writes, “(1) If an initiative is siphoning off resources that could go to something with more promise, it is pruned. (2) If an endeavor is sick and is not going to get well, it is pruned. (3) If it’s clear that something is already dead, it is pruned.

How do you walk past a dead initiative?

Companies get so buried in daily responsibilities they overlook what really matters. Digital Transformation matters, and the effort it takes to rally, craft and drive that initiative matters. In Part 1, we talked about rallying change through how you motivate, relate and connect.

Part 2 addresses how change needs to be crafted.

Establishing pace is essential. Pace deals with size and seasons. Leaders manage Digital Transformation so that reasonable benchmarks are reached in rational time.

Pace is critical. Michael Easter was the number one cyclist in California. During one race he cramped up and could not finish. He commented later, “All the skill and all the will can’t overcome dehydration.”

Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Shift add, “Self-control is an exhaustible resource. The bigger the change the more it saps self-control. When people exhaust self-control, they exhaust the mental muscles needed to think creatively, to focus, to inhibit impulse, to persist in the face of frustration…Change is hard because people wear themselves out. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.”

Three types of changes determine the size and seasons of changes.

1.   Immediate Changes

  • What will we do to demonstrate that things are happening.
  • What small wins will validate the sacrifice people make?
  • What do people need to hear, to see or to experience that communicates this is change toward progress?

Chip and Dan Heath reinforce this, “Change feeds on itself. Small change snowballs to big change.”

Immediate changes must result in positive experiences and allow leaders to reinforce the behavior they want to see. Group perception begins to shift. People do what others are doing. You’ve established an environment that fosters the new.

2.   Incremental Changes

Long term vision; short term views. Incremental changes understand the impact of change and gives time for employees to understand and utilize new systems, processes and components.

  • Where immediate changes inspire, incremental changes anchor.
  • If X is implemented, what, if anything, might be unattended that is still a critical function to us?
  • If X is implemented, what, if anything, could be more than people can handle?
  • Time invested in one function means time may not be invested in another: When can we let go of something and not be impacted negatively?
  • How is the energy level? Do we need a celebration or a rest?
  • Do we have the right people in place to keep moving the right things forward?
  • Are the financial resources still in place for the next piece?

3.   Ideological Change

Seth Godin in Tribes writes, “Ideas that spread, win…Do what you believe in. Paint a picture. Go there…The very nature of leadership is that you’re not doing what’s been done before. If you were, you’d be following, not leading.”

Ideology is belief that moves forward; it is vision turned into identity, capacity and destiny. Ideology clarifies, multiplies and solidifies.

  • You are immersed into Digital Transformation for a reason. How will people know, always, how these changes more firmly define them?
  • How will people experience greater growth themselves and, therefore, a sense of greater contribution than they have made before?

How do your ideas fulfill what your employees always hoped would be true of your company or of their talent?

Leaders craft change. They prune. They pace. They purposefully implement what is new.

But they must drive what has been designed. And that is Part 3.

How C-Suite Executives Master Digital Transformation And Avoid Stalls and Failure, Part 1

Your company is a business in transformation. It’s not about the newest technology, it’s about mission; it just so happens technology is your business and digital transformation is your future. Though most CEO’s and CFO’s didn’t rise through the ranks of tech mastery, they still see clearly the essential changes in front of them. They then enlist alongside them a whole new band of Chief technologists. Together, Digital Transformation is your shared vision.

But many digital transformation efforts fail.

 

In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath write, “Don’t obsess about the middle. Look for a strong beginning and a strong ending.”

The middle is mostly a mess. A rule for life is the same for digital transformation efforts: Don’t quit in the middle. The ability to see an effort through depends on the strong beginning which set the vision, clear expectation and tone. It also depends on the strong ending, which is a clearly understood, effectively applied new reality that benefits every internal and external customer of the business.

Every C-Suite Executive leads any digital transformation effort through three intentional commitments: Rally. Craft. Drive. (Craft and Drive will appear in a sequential article).

Intentional commitment #1: Rally

Every C-Suite Executive leads any digital transformation effort through three intentional commitments: Rally. Craft. Drive.

Legendary football coach Bear Bryant knew how to win, and his players at Alabama always brought discipline to the field. One game, however, near the end of the final quarter, Coach called in a running play to his offense. With the team ahead, they needed only to run out the clock. The quarterback changed the play. He threw the ball. It was intercepted by the fastest defensive back in the Conference who began running toward the end zone and certain victory. The quarterback gave chase and somehow tackled him before he scored, preserving the victory for Alabama. After the game, the opposing coach asked Bear Bryant, “How did your slow-footed quarterback ever catch my world-class sprinter?” Coach answered, “Your man was racing for six points. My man was running for his life!”

Too many companies are driven by desperation. Crisis leads the way. To rally a company, C-Suite Executives focus on three practices:

  1. Motivate
  • People can sense when change is needed. They don’t need to be convinced of it. They need to be connected to it. Seth Godin advises, “Transform shared interest into a passionate goal and desire for change.” People accept the need for change when change is toward fulfillment.
  • Do employees have a clear understanding of the company’s current position in their industry? Do they know the score both for the company and for their team?
  • Do employees have a clear understanding of how customers can be better served through digital transformation? Do they know how change will better serve their own motivation for working with the company?
  • Do employees have a clear understanding of the negative consequences of failing to get out in front of competitors? Risk-averse voices will try to pull back transformation, but non-traditional disruptors demand attention and consume the luxury of time to get up to speed.
  • Do employees know how new applications will solve problems and result in greater efficiency, less headaches and greater profitability/employee benefit?
  1. Relate

Your teams are motivated by an awareness of need and opportunity. Too often, initiatives are rolled out without further understanding of each team’s relationship to the process. Every digital transformation needs a single message, even if it is from multiple voices. Efforts will bog down if outside voices, such as vendors, begin to pick at a process by offering alternative solutions.

C-Suite Executives need to relate the following:

  • An honest assessment of the scope of the overall project.
  • The contributions expected of each team.
  • Realistic time frames to understand new technology and use it, and the training that can be expected to do so.
  • How circumstances or positive developments have made the course of action obvious.
  • The drawbacks to anticipate.

Part of the Relate Strategy is to lead people and teams into agreement. They share the same motivations and they commit to their responsibilities within the initiative.

  1. Connect

Seth Godin says that great leaders “realize that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group could be.”

Connect involves cross-pollination of teams, and multiple team representation for the purpose of coordination and communication.

To connect also requires removing silos. Digital transformation is not a point-specific problem. Data silo in a single group restricts access needed by others. Digital transformation is about holistic value to the business, and data integration is the leverage.

Connect requires simplified structures. The emergence of new C-level titles can increase complexity, but digital transformations require agility. Clearly delineated outcomes, flow of information and means of decision-making are requisite for efficiency, avoidance of redundancy and alleviation of turf protection.

Outside eyes are part of an effective Connect equation. It is difficult to innovate in your four walls. Unbiased stakeholders who think creatively can stimulate your teams and clear up perceptions. Outside eyes say what needs to be said, so that connection is strengthened toward problem-solving rather than threatened by problem-identification.

Digital Transformation requires rallying the team. Long-term initiatives can only be sustained when compelling motivation is in place. Unless employees and teams can relate themselves to the project, diversion and distraction will pull at focus and energy. But when motivation and relationship is in place, connected teams will answer the rally cry with great determination.

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