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Why is the ‘people factor’ always an important consideration when undertaking a digital transformation?

Marcel Wilson
Apr 12
Digital transformations are enabled and propelled forward toward their goals by team cultures where people know what's expected of them. Digital transformations without structure are chaotic and in this context, no amount of inspirational leadership can turn dynamic flows of ideas into business value.  

The esteemed organizational theorist Chris Argyris wrote that each of us, to avoid vulnerability, risk, embarrassment, and the appearance of incompetence are predisposed to saying one thing and doing the other. People can’t help but serve their individual needs before that of their organizations. People are unable to effectively and consistently address their own biases – on their own.

Despite executives believing their teams to be loyal, high performing and trust-worthy, the very nature of people is that we each ‘need help’ to consistently play an effective role in organizations. This is even more important during demanding and turbulent times such as a digital transformation.

Failure to address the people-side of digital transformation is a fatal error in many executive’s judgments. Our personal biases often close us to learning – the very thing that is needed to progress transformations toward their goals.

Change is for most of us psychologically threatening; we are on the back foot, defensive about what it could mean for our respective jobs. For most of us, helping our company to digitally transform was never clearly articulated during the hiring processes at our respective companies.

However, the right team cultures can help to align people and offset the impacts of incongruent behaviours. It’s our experience that many leaders are proud of efforts made to develop their organization’s culture. However, transformations are not enabled by cultures that support generic values such as cooperation, respect, teamwork. It’s not to say these things are ‘bad’. However, rapid streamline transformations require ‘more’; specific conditions that focus people around fostering value, not just ideas.

Teams often require specific advice on exactly what work practices and processes should underpin their digital transformation. Successfully embedding these structured work practices is key to realising value from digital transformation efforts.

“Trying to raise efficiency and morale without first setting the right structure is like trying to lay bricks without mortar.”

-Elliott Jaques (Harvard Business Review)

Digital transformations are enabled and propelled forward toward their goals by team cultures where people know what’s expected of them. Digital transformations without structure are chaotic and in this context, no amount of inspirational leadership can turn dynamic flows of ideas into business value.  

Key takeaways from this post:

  1. People-related risks nearly always threaten transformation goals;
  2. People need structured work practices to help them to contribute effectively to a digital transformation.
  3. Quality advice in regard to the right work structures is key to realising business value.

 

To discuss your company’s digital transformation please get in touch.

 

 

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