Your People are the Bedrock of Transformational Success
Simply stating that your organization is ready to embrace digital transformation does not necessarily make it so! The people side of digital transformation is the most critical piece, and this requires far more than putting company values in your mission statement or painting inspirational words on a wall.
Cultural transformation needs a plan, and for it to have any ultimate financial and positive reputational benefit to your organization, it sure better be customer-centric (CC). Weaving your customer-centric focus into your transformational roadmap must be part of step one.
The Institute for Digital Transformation quotes it best with this research,” A 2016 McKinsey study identified one third of the barriers to transformation were caused by Cultural and Behavioral Challenges. Unfortunately, the people side is totally overlooked and forgotten in almost every change program.”1
We know that digital transformation requires multiple elements such as examining your processes, automation, product set, customer experience, revamping roles and responsibilities of your employees, among others. However, the ultimate aim is to re-define your business products and services, enhancing the experience and value gained interacting with your company, in a way that is meaningful to the customer.
By doing so, the customer benefits and conversely the revenue and positioning of your company can grow!
Part of the muscle that makes this possible is an openness to innovation, pivoting quickly based on market movement and customer feedback, and having an empowered workforce that feels safe and appreciated throughout the journey. Putting this more succinctly, you are going to need your employees to change how they do their work and likely what work they do. This is not a comfortable motion for most human beings so the change process needs to consider and manage to that!
One organization I interacted with not many years ago had a family-like culture, one that had a bonding supportive sense across all levels of the company and drove output through sheer team commitment. They put people first, yet they were not always efficient and clear in their strategy and objectives. It was a wonderful work environment, but not in the best market position to adapt to the Digital Era.
Therefore, they attempted to transform. They had big ideas. They brought in big industry names to invoke change. However, they forgot the people on the ground. Instead of taking the employees along as part of the ride with newfound purpose, leadership worked behind closed doors, they did not coach and support, they began to undervalue the current staff. Morale went down. People left. The old team energy evaporated. Ultimately, the transformation efforts failed because they lost their core cultural compass and they lost their loyal “soldiers.”
Cultural transformation is no easy task. There will be tough choices, and some of the original team may need to move on to careers outside of your organization. However, through this sometimes-difficult process, you don’t want to lose the inherent positive energy of your company. It’s possible to accomplish material change in your organization without eliminating the good in your current culture.
Your digital transformation requires a customer-centric culture because the end goal is delivering an amazing customer experience that drives more business. You need your employees bought-in with a clear plan for how to make this work. A structured initiative to create a customer-centric culture must involve the full participation of your employees; this is how get your organization on solid footing and ready to move to the larger transformation effort.
There are five critical building blocks of the (CC) program*:
Leadership must be committed
Everyone in the organization understands the purpose clearly
Each role has some relevant number of activities and tasks directly focused on the customer-experience
Each employee is invested in the success of the customer experience and their performance goals reflect this (in part defined and agreed to by the employee)
The goals defined for each employee, department unit, and the company overall are continuously measured, reported and adjusted as needed.
Your people are the biggest asset you have in succeeding with your digital transformation. Start with a program that surrounds your employees and motivates them, recognizing their importance in creating a culture that drives a premier customer experience. Do this step, and the path to your larger digital transformation is on rock solid footing!
This post was originally published on the i4dt.org on 2/3/21.
*(For more insight on how to launch the (CC) program take a look at “Championing a Customer-Centric Culture,”