Process or Progress? It's your choice.
Have you ever thought that you are the slave to process? That you can’t get done what you want to get done, or that what you need to get done takes too long because you have to fill out a form, get approval, wait and then wait a little bit longer?
Process. That beautiful word!
Aside from the dictionary definitions, when you are talking about Digital Business Transformation or Digital strategy, process really boils down to two distinct things:
1) The formal steps one must carry out in order to achieve an outcome or move forward as set out by the organisation, leadership or management.
2) The behaviours we as individuals tend to follow when completing a task, addressing an issue, solving a problem or creating something. This is the ‘way we tend to work’.
Both examples are not exclusive of the other. I’m sure there is a huge amount of research to discuss, debate and evaluate the behavioural psychology and historical legacy of each and their relationship to each other…but so what.
Back to the opening statement: I can’t do what I know I need to do because I have to follow due process. I don’t do what I should or could do because my learnt behaviours force me to do things this one specific way.
When building a Digital Strategy or when travelling through Digital Business Transformation a leadership team and organisation must prioritise these too things to progress. Or else? Simple, you will not progress or stumble and stall at best.
Processes as dictated by the organisation
Why we don’t address the processes of an organisation and the ways of working of the individual as a key priority within any Digital Strategy or Transformation is simply mind blowing.
Everyone knows Digital Transformation isn’t just about technology now. If you still think it is…you have a long way to go. Also, increasingly, research and articles around Digital Business Transformation are talking about the importance of culture to the success of any such initiative. This is great, but in the time old tradition of Adapt2Digital no-jargon-client-speak – who really knows what to do about culture unless they are super smart or experienced in that area?
I’m supposed to write actionable blogs, not opinionated waffle so I should cut to the chase right?
If you are building a Digital Strategy or going through a Digital Business Transformation, ensure you have organisational process as a top priority for assessment, review and change. This should include governance in general as well as your policies & procedures.
When you are assessing and reviewing processes consider this; Do your processes enable or inhibit the ability for you to:
· Understand your customers better?
· Help your workforce make decisions in the moment they are needed?
· Change when you need to change - NOW!?
· Optimise (and when indicated redesign) your customer experiences?
· Speed up the end to end customer lifecycle?
There are more, but these should be included in your initial assessment and review. I am not for a second belittling the challenge and complexity some organisations face when addressing the need to review and change processes – but this doesn’t negate the importance or need to do so. It should fire you up, not drag you down - how much worse can it be if you are already so frustrated? Getting policy makers and leaders understand that processes and procedures need to change as a major part of any Digital Strategy or Digital Business Transformation becomes part of the need to get senior leadership buy in right at the very start.
1) Don’t think you can ignore or trick your Digital Strategy or Digital Business Transformation to work without addressing changing processes as a key outcome and objective
2) Work this priority into your business case and leadership awareness initiatives
3) Take heart, this really is an area where you should start small but not stop thinking big…there will be lots to do along the way.
The way we tend to do things as individuals
Here at Adapt2Digital I know I should do something about integrating our CRM software with our financial software; it would save time, money, provide hugely more valuable information to our sales teams and to our management team. I’ve known this for about 6 months. Have I done anything about it? Nope, zero, ziltch, nada.
Those of you who are aware of the work of Robert Kegan, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education will be familiar with what he calls: Immunity to Change on which he has published. Ultimately, this is al to do with human nature, Robert urges us all to consider this:
“If fourteen frogs are sitting on a log and thirteen decide to jump into the pond, how many frogs will be left on the log?”
The answer is in fact fourteen. As Robert explains in this great YouTube video, our intent to do something, our want to change is very different to the action required to ‘actually’ change! And, furthermore, he’s proved this using some incredibly compelling examples including heart patients.
What’s my point? Even when you have changed the processes, you have to ensure you have gained the trust and created the desire to change at an individual level to progress. Otherwise, when the going gets tough, or even without any challenge, over time people will revert back to learnt behaviours.
Also, personally I believe, you have to understand culture through the lens of local groups or tribes to really make an effective difference.
What does a bread maker, the country of France and digital transformation have in common?
Put simply? When the humble break maker was invented, helping people make their own bread that was cheaper, healthier- with that amazing smell added to the romance of it all – who would argue the concept of moving to a bread maker? Well, aside from the fact that in many countries simply buying a loaf in a supermarket seems more convenient and cheaper - something very different took place in France which I think offers up something we should all be mindful of:
Throughout the country people were buying bread machines…but the reality was this: The idea of walking to the bread shop was part of the culture, meeting local community members was part of the culture, and the product, I think we can all agree, is far superior than in most other countries!
The point is, the French tried a new technology but it didn’t work for two reasons: It removed a valid cultural, community aspect at a local ‘tribal’ level - the importance of the established process - bordering on ritual was never considered as important. And, secondly of course, the bread maker could only make bread as good as (at best!) the myriad of Boulangeries throughout the country.
When you are assessing the individual behaviours of people you must also look at their local tribes and understand the value of this community aspect. If you are going to remove it, ensure it is for the right reasons. Furthermore, ensure you are communicating clearly and effectively the benefits of change, and do so authentically - don’t be like the humble bread maker and be change for change’s sake - the tribe has to be supported and the outcome/product has to be better and far superior not only to the existing process but also to the tribe value that might be ingrained within that process.
1) Understand the people/tribe/group value of processes before you start to change or remove them - this can sometimes be subtle but to an individual or small group hugely important.
2) Ensure you can articulate the ‘WHY’ of change. Clearly demonstrate the benefits of a new process just as you would a new product or service.
3) Create desire for change, not just fact for change.
Process versus progress. It’s your choice. If you would like to know more about how to do this and accelerate your own Digital Transformation journey then please do connect.