Change is continual. Shouldn’t digital transformation be as well?
- Posted on June 21, 2023
- Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Change. We live it every day, yet for some reason, when it comes to change in the workplace the track record for success is poor to say the least. In fact, so poor that recent studies by Accenture show that circa 70% of transformation programs fail to deliver on their promise.
Over the last 30 years, technology has evolved at an alarming rate (and still shows no signs of slowing) and has become far more complex and capable. However, the accessibility of technology has never been greater. The introduction of APIs, cloud, headless technologies and most recently generative AI and the likes of Microsoft’s Copilot, have made it far easier to access new technologies in a quicker and more simplistic manner. Has this accessibility of technology helped our ability to handle change, or has it just exacerbated it?
Everything has evolved over the last three decades except our mindset to change. Author Tim Ferriss once said: “People will choose unhappiness over uncertainty”. Change is hard, especially transformation which is a dramatic change.
For far too long, transformation has been anchored around a ‘target end state’, implying that once reached, the job is done. We still try to drive transformation at a domain or function level without the right understanding of true impact across an enterprise. Even more worryingly, in a world that is continually evolving, we march on relentlessly to a “north star” with little regard to change in the world around us. This mindset creates a behavior that generates a blindness to the surrounding world in a relentless pursuit of the end state. The two aren’t mutually exclusive and where their paths cross is where the challenges start.
We need to view change differently if we’re to shift the needle on transformation success rates. According to Gartner, 53% of organizations are not prepared to handle the challenges posed by digital advancements, let alone other contributing factors. Market dynamics, business performance, legislation, culture and human behaviour don’t stand still or pause to support the three-year roadmap of a company’s transformation program. It happens around it, and to succeed, we need the transformation to evolve and adapt – not the other way around.
We also must recognize (more so than we do today), that key decisions are made by humans. Humans who have access to new information and insights on a daily basis, insights that can sometimes impact their priorities or levels of desire for a given project or programme of activities. Current transformation strategies don’t take this into consideration and subsequently are unable to adapt in most cases, often resulting in overspend, write-offs and ultimately failure.
A Gartner survey showed that employees have reached a breaking point with change. In 2022, the average employee experienced 10 planned enterprise changes ranging from restructuring, pursuit of new efficiencies, cultural change or replacement of legacy systems. In 2006, the number of enterprise changes was two – a 400% increase in sixteen years. It’s no wonder that an employee’s willingness for change dropped from 74% in 2016 to 43% in 2022. Ironically, the challenge lies more in how/why the change happens and not necessarily the volume. We all know change is here to stay, however we don’t always know why it’s happening!
Change is continual, infinite even, yet transformation is considered as finite, with a clear start and end point mapped out. This will not work in today’s world and is a sure path to joining the overcrowded space of the 70% failure group.
If you want to succeed, transformation needs to become dynamic. Dynamic in design and nature; characterized by constant change, activity, or progress. Where decisions are made based on not just the target outcome, but what’s going on around us. Only then will we see success rates increase and unlock the potential to realise a genuine return on investment associated to change.
Dynamic Transformation is designed to adapt and evolve in harmony with the world around us and, allow decision makers to change their views in a controlled and risk-managed way. It is a pathway to achieving a dynamic organization, one which can adapt and evolve by design, anchored around a digital core, operating model and data strategy.
In everyday life we process a huge amount of information and adapt our views, positions and even behaviours based on this constant input of data – the sheer notion of a fixed mindset creates anxiety and conflict against instinct. Change never stops….why should transformation?