Category: Uncategorized

Successful Change Management: 6 Surprising Reasons People Resist Change And How To Motivate Them To Embrace It Instead

Full article with thanks to https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2020/02/16/successful-change-management-6-surprising-reasons-people-resist-change-and-how-to-motivate-them-to-embrace-it-instead/

Everyone knows change is hard and the most difficult part of any change effort is obtaining buy-in. Relatively speaking, it is often the change itself—new software, new organization charts or new work methodologies—that is the easiest to manage. The more difficult part of change is building buy-in, channeling shifts in behavior and accelerating acceptance.

Peter Senge was right, “People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.” Change can cause fear or discomfort when people are asked to stretch out of their comfort zones. In addition, it often requires incremental work—time to learn new concepts, build new skills or adopt new approaches. This worry, unease or extra effort can result in a wave of push-back or skepticism about the change and its value.

Given these challenges, it’s helpful to realize that the reasons people resist change are often not about the changes themselves, but about the implications of the change. The six surprising reasons people resist include the following:

People want clear future direction. Sometimes changes to systems or approaches in the way work will get done can make people question the direction or the future of the company. If there are job cuts, is the organization still viable overall? If changes are occurring in an enterprise management system, will customers still be adequately served to ensure success in the organization? In order to accept change more easily, people will benefit from understanding the overall reasons for the change—the why—and how the changes support the purpose and long-term mission of the company. They will also need to understand the expected positive impact of the change and why it will be worth the effort. Leadership must be visible as they share this kind of information. They must also be accessible in order to answer questions and they must model the way—demonstrating acceptance of the change through their own behaviors.

People want control and autonomy. In addition to having plenty of clarity from leadership, people also want to know they are empowered. When things change in the company, people may perceive they will lose control of the way they work, of their options or of their performance. In fact, one of the number one concerns people have about change is whether it will negatively impact their ability to get their work done and achieve results. Control at work is associated with greater effectiveness and even improved physical wellbeing. Increase acceptance for the change by giving people back as much control as possible. For example, the new enterprise software system may be non-negotiable, but it may be possible for teams to customize its implementation. The new workplace design may be a given, but it may be possible to give people more choice about where they work throughout the day.

People want to save face. Employees naturally have a stake in the current state and many of them may have helped create it by making decisions about or participating in previous implementations. Increase acceptability of changes by reassuring people that the past isn’t bad or wrong. In fact, previous decisions were likely made with the best possible information available at the time. Work moves fast—usually faster than systems or workplaces can move—so let people know new information and new situations are driving the changes being implemented today.

People want security. Neurologically, humans want to reduce threats and achieve security. When changes occur in an organization, they may wonder about the bigger picture or about potential implications. For example, will the change in organizational structure result in job cuts? Will the shifts in the sales management system impact their own performance if they can’t learn it fast enough? Reduce resistance to change by letting people know why the change is occurring in terms of business objectives, and reassuring people as much as possible given the true implications of decisions. Respond to the underlying concerns they may have about the changes taking place.

People want to be competent. New systems can be upsetting to people because they worry their competence will be challenged. They have likely achieved success in the current system and may worry their ability to perform will be negatively impacted in the new system. Reassure people that they will receive the necessary support to develop their skills and time to learn new approaches without negative repercussions.

People want connections with others. No matter their personality preferences, employees need both time alone and time together with coworkers. They need a sense of connection and positive relationships with colleagues. When change occurs, they may have questions about how their work with others will shift. For example, will an organizational restructure separate them from their teammates? Will a change in the workplace still allow people to sit near their friends? Reassure people about the value of relationships and collegiality by showing them ways they’ll still be able to connect, despite other shifts that may be occurring.

Companies can mistake a lack of understanding about a change with a lack of agreement. Simply communicating more or deluging people with the same information ad nauseum won’t help increase acceptance. The most effective change management requires an understanding of the root-cause issues driving resistance. Future direction, autonomy, saving face, security, competence and connections—all of these are concerns which may prevent people from embracing change. Understand the issues, clarify messages and reassure employees in order to motivate change and drive positive outcomes.

Full article with thanks to https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2020/02/16/successful-change-management-6-surprising-reasons-people-resist-change-and-how-to-motivate-them-to-embrace-it-instead/

5 Questions That (Newly) Virtual Leaders Should Ask Themselves

Full article with thanks to https://hbr.org/2020/05/5-questions-that-newly-virtual-leaders-should-ask-themselves

t is safe to say, that for the first time in the age of technology, ad hoc face-to-face meetings are no longer an option for many people. While we don’t anticipate in-person meetings to go away forever, working during the Covid-19 crisis does provide us with the opportunity to reflect on how the best leaders succeed in virtual environments.

For many, working from home, and communicating through digital mediums like Slack, Zoom, and WebEx, are nothing new. Many business models have supported virtual work for years as a necessity to accommodate employees and clients in various locations. Still, while technology has improved our ability to get work done and communicate remotely, we have not yet been forced to develop a set of best practices for leading remote teams at the capacity that has been brought on by this crisis.

My intent here is to challenge leaders to pause and identify what they need to do differently not only to sustain, but also to strengthen their skills in a virtual setting‚ particularly during a time when their teams are looking to them more than ever for direction.

First, it’s important to be aware of the factors that make working together virtually such a challenge:

  • For some, it’s uncomfortable. Every day, I watch my teenagers laugh and chat with their friends on Facetime, as if they were just another person in the room. But for many of us adults, who didn’t grow up with that same technology, it can still be quite uncomfortable. This lack of comfort makes it harder for some to open up, connect, trust, and communicate with each other virtually. If you are a leader today, in a virtual setting, you may be struggling to display the same level of authenticity and provide your team with the same sense of safety as you did in person.
  • Interpersonal dynamics are harder to manage. Both for technical reasons and because people are harder to read over video, the appropriate affect, tone, pacing, and facial expressions that we rely on for effective communication in person are more difficult to give and receive virtually, especially in group settings.
  • You can easily lose people’s attention. It’s challenging enough to engage people in a face-to-face meetings, but virtual meetings often come with a plethora of new distractions that you have little control over.
  • New skills are required, from you. Whether it’s managing tech, maintaining strong facilitation skills, or rethinking agendas, virtual is different than in-person. Knowing that is half the battle.

With these factors as a backdrop, ask yourself five questions to ensure you are being the best leader you can be as you manage your team from home.

Am I being strategic enough?

Strong leaders practice strategic communications in every interaction, be it a full-day meeting, an hour-long meeting, a sales call, a one-on-one check-in, or even an email. But communicating virtually requires even more strategic planning because you can’t rely as much on human connection or charisma to carry you. Before every exchange, take time to think about your purpose, audience, and the context of the exchange. Then write down your objectives, agenda, and the amount of time you want to spend on each item.

It helps to make your objectives broader than usual. For example, what do you want the other person (or people) to feel after you talk? Challenge yourself to up the engagement quotient to make up for the deficit of face-to-face interaction. This means asking more questions during your interactions, checking in with team members to make sure you are aligned, and leaving extra time for those moments to take place during presentations or group meetings.

Have I revamped communication plans for my direct team and the organization at large?

Moving operations virtual means that it’s time to revisit and potentially revamp your communication protocols with direct reports, employees, board members, and any other audiences you regularly work with. For example, you must now think about how you will run your weekly check-ins with team members. Will you hold these meetings by phone, over slack, or schedule a video call? While best practice says video is best, you may need to adjust your approach based on the preferences of individual employees. The same goes for meetings with clients and other stakeholders.

Using a table in a word document or Google Sheet can help you create a comprehensive plan for different types of meetings. Create at least four columns, including one for each of the below items:

  • Mode of communication (i.e. video, phone, slack)
  • Meeting cadence (i.e. weekly, monthly)
  • Meeting agenda (i.e. team building, check-ins)
  • Meeting participants (i.e. managers, board members)

Fill out your table based on how you worked prior to moving virtual, then, revamp the entire plan to adjust to your current situation.

As you begin to “revamp,” challenge everything you considered “best practice” before, from the size of your meetings to the time allotted. Ask: Should a video call  be used for all announcements or can I simply write a status report to update the team? Do I need to schedule more check-ins with my direct reports to make up for the lack of being in person? Does that meeting that took an hour in the office need to last the full 60 minutes online? Should each communication be followed by a detailed email summary to keep everyone on the same page?

Looking at the entire plan will allow you to optimize it.

How might I reset roles and responsibilities to help people to succeed?

Some people thrive while working remotely, while others may feel a lack of motivation or encounter other unforeseen challenges. Though it may not be apparent who is struggling at first, as a leader, it’s your job to check in regularly with team members about how they are coping. During your one-on-ones, ask: “How are things going for you? What challenges are you facing? What do you think you need to be successful? How can I, or the team, help?”

Through these discussions, re-evaluate each person’s strengths and weaknesses. You may find that you need to shift responsibilities around or invest in training sessions for those who feel less comfortable. For example, one of your team members might excel at running meetings in-person, but lack either the technical or facilitation skills to run them remotely. Or you may find that you have an individual who participates actively during in-person meetings, but not as actively in virtual meetings.

Because change — like shifting a role and taking on new work — can bring up sensitivities in people, it’s important to frame any suggestions you make as opportunities for growth. By diagnosing your direct report’s strongest and weakest points, placing them where they can succeed, and providing them with guidance when they are struggling, you will not only help your team be more productive, you will be helping your employees develop. In these conversations, also be sure to ask for their feedback and thoughts with respect to how the team can improve. Remember that respect, authenticity, and caring are foundational to strong leadership.

Am I keeping my eye on (and communicating about) the big picture?

When you’re working remotely, it’s easy to focus solely on the tactical, to stay glued to your computer, fielding email after email, in an earnest, unorganized fashion. With your to-do list looming in front of you, and no colleagues to pull you out of your head, you may be tempted to stay buried in the weeds. But people rely on leaders for direction, especially during uncertain times. This means, no matter how many small tasks are clogging your calendar, you need to be able to pick your head up and keep one eye on the bigger picture.

Be sure to carve out time to work “on” the business (strategy), as opposed to working “in” the business (operations). Do this by blocking off time on your personal calendar to think about strategy. Or, if your thoughts are clear, schedule a strategy session with your team. Use this time to revisit fundamental questions about the business and organization, like: “Is our value proposition clear to our customers? Are there opportunities for us to improve our business model? Is our team engaged, productive, and inspired to do their best work?”

Keep in mind this idea from Michael Porter’s classic piece, ”What Is Strategy?” He wrote, “New [strategic] positions open up because of change…new needs emerge as societies evolve.” It’s more than likely that the shifts you are experiencing during the Covid-19 crisis will present opportunities for your business, organization, and for you as a leader. In a time when it’s easy to only be focused on defense, it’s up to leaders to go on the offensive and be on the lookout for doors that might be opening.

What more can I do to strengthen our company culture?

I am continually struck by the stories I hear of teams growing even stronger during this time. Many of the most resilient leaders I work with have accomplished this by finding opportunities to align, engage, and inspire their teams around a purpose. Right now, teams need to feel connected, not only to the company’s mission but also to each other.

One way to accomplish this is to regularly set aside time for team members to highlight and share wins delivered either to customers, each other, or to the business itself. If well-crafted, you can tie the “bright spot” sharing to the company’s vision, mission, or values, reiterating the importance or the organization’s purpose and the essential role that everyone plays in achieving it. If meeting time is tight, a slack page, a quick email or another type of non-verbal communication can also be used.

To bring people together, you may also consider prioritizing some team building avenues that were less essential before. Many of our clients have begun conducting virtual social hours, meditation groups, art sharing clubs, team music performances, and fitness challenges. While these options may not be for everyone, they are just a handful of examples we have seen initiate positive team dynamics. Even something as simple as starting a meeting by asking people to bring a video, a meme, or a photo that gives them joy can foster comradery and a needed laugh.

Is there a silver lining to our current business environment? I would say, yes. The leadership skills you are building now will continue to serve you after Covid-19. There is no going back to exactly where we were before. New opportunities will open up — maybe full virtual workforces on a level we’ve never seen. And thanks to an unforeseen time in our history, you’ll be ready for it, with new skills in place to truly lead, whether from home or the office, more effectively than before.

Full article with thanks to https://hbr.org/2020/05/5-questions-that-newly-virtual-leaders-should-ask-themselves

4 Barriers to Organizational Change Found Within Leadership and Project Teams

4 Barriers to Organizational Change Found Within Leadership and Project Teams

Full article with thanks to https://www.panorama-consulting.com/barriers-to-organizational-change/?utm_campaign=Organic%20-%20LinkedIn%20-%20OCM&utm_content=146665308&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-672814

While everyone wants change, no one wants to change. This is a well-known adage in the field of change management. Put another way, it’s often easier to convince people of the need for something new than to get everyone moving in the same direction toward that objective.

While change management practitioners understand this adage, many organizations don’t. As a result, they don’t recognize the importance of investing in change management because their team is already “open to the idea of change.”

Not investing in change management is the biggest barrier to rolling out successful organizational changes. Thus, the attitudes and opinions of project teams that cause companies to overlook change management can also be considered barriers to organizational change.

Barriers to Organizational Change: The 4 Deadly A’s

1. Aloofness

In our experience with over 50 clients going through a business transformation, less than a quarter of project managers, senior leadership, IT and financial leadership embrace the need for a structured change management plan.

They were either reticent, indifferent or disinterested. Mostly, they were aloof. The primary reasons were that they . . .

  • Were too busy with technical requirements
  • Lacked understanding of the people side of change
  • Had budget constraints
  • Lacked executive support

Most clients said that, in hindsight, the first thing they would add to their project plan would be an allocation for organizational change management support.

2. Apathy

The basic lack of caring – whether on the part of senior leadership, the project team or the corporate culture – can be a huge barrier to organizational change.

Many times, it’s leadership or the IT team saying, “We have to do this project anyway, so let’s just get it done.” This type of indifference also has roots in the culture of the enterprise or within functional groups.

Then, the indifference tickles down, until employees are saying to their coworkers, “Just keep your head down and pretend to go along. In six months, we’ll be back to the way we used to do this. We’ll outlast the changes, and the new processes won’t work.”

A culture of change resistance can usually be traced back to prior efforts that were apathetic toward the need for a change structure. This culture can also be traced back to a lack of employee engagement or a lack of understanding about the role of benefits realization.

3. Assumptions

When organizations get stuck in the process of “just doing,” the people who will determine the success of the project are usually the last to know about the project.

For example, let’s say the leadership and project teams have been planning for the changes for some time, and they know the strategic imperatives as to why transformation must happen. They assume, erroneously, that everyone else is on board because they recall having mentioned the project in a town hall or company email. However, they also admit they have no idea what stakeholders heard and retained, if anything.

These leaders didn’t take the time to:

  • Articulate a vision
  • Provide active and visible sponsorship
  • Inspire hope and aspiration
  • Ask for fresh ideas
  • Take ownership for success

4. Avoidance

Avoidance of change management usually happens when leadership or project leads don’t take the time to ask employees for their opinion.

For example, the project may have a challenging timeline, and an employee might want the project team to know, “I don’t have time for that, and I don’t have any support.”

The result of avoiding feedback is a lost opportunity for stakeholders to be a part of the process and solution, to express their fears, to share their ideas and to consider the opportunities that the changes could bring. Most importantly, the organization misses the chance to capture overlooked or undocumented benefits.

We have conducted focus groups with thousands of employees, and the overwhelming majority just want to have a voice.

Why? Because change is personal, and employees have a stake in the result. They want to be heard and considered in the process. They actually do want the company and project to succeed – they just need to first understand the “why.”

To ensure employee engagement, it’s important for leaders to ask themselves:

  1. Do I understand the risks and benefits of this project from all levels?
  2. Do the expected results depend on people changing how they do their jobs?
  3. What percentage of the new ERP system’s processes and benefits are dependent on users?

The Importance of Change Management

The importance of change management cannot be understated. Change management gives employees a voice and provides them with the tools and easy-to-understand language they need to navigate buy-in and own the changes.

If any of these four deadly A’s causes a company to neglect change management, this will be a barrier to organizational changes, such as new business processes and new ERP software.

No organization can successfully roll out such organizational changes when employees will feel ignored, unimportant and confused. Requiring employees in this state of mind to embrace change will not create an effective and efficient workforce but one that does the bare minimum – just enough to appear accepting of change but not enough to take full advantage of new processes and technology.

To learn more, request a free consultation below for the opportunity to speak with one of our organizational change management consultants.

Full article with thanks to https://www.panorama-consulting.com/barriers-to-organizational-change/?utm_campaign=Organic%20-%20LinkedIn%20-%20OCM&utm_content=146665308&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-672814

What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workforce

Full article with thanks to https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/what-800-executives-envision-for-the-postpandemic-workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to our working lives in the short term, and is likely to change the way that we work in the long term. To understand these changes, McKinsey commissioned a survey of business executives around the world in June 2020. The results suggest that the crisis may accelerate some workforce trends already underway, such as the adoption of automation and digitization, increased demand for contractors and gig workers, and more remote work. Those changes in turn will create greater demand for workers to fill jobs in areas like health and hygiene, cybersecurity, and data analytics.

The responses to the survey point to a period of disruptive change ahead. Not only has COVID-19 thrown millions of individuals out of work, but the mix of jobs that emerge from this crisis is likely different than those that were lost. People with the lowest incomes and educational attainment have been disproportionately affected, putting strains on achieving inclusive growth and potentially raising income inequality. Small and midsize businesses and communities of color, already more severely affected by COVID-19, are also more vulnerable to disruption from increased automation.

These insights are based on a recent survey of 800 executives, representing a full range of industries in eight countries. Half of the respondents are based in the United States, and the rest work in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The respondents represented businesses of different sizes, with a quarter from companies with less than $1 billion in revenues, and the remainder split between companies with revenues of $1 billion to $10 billion and those with revenues over $10 billion.

Unprecedented restrictions on travel, physical interactions, and changes in consumer behavior since COVID-19 took hold has forced companies and consumers to change the way they operate. This has spurred digital transformations in a matter of weeks rather than months or years. As nonessential workers shifted to working from home, 85 percent of respondents in the McKinsey survey said their businesses have somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration, such as videoconferencing and filesharing. Roughly half of those surveyed reported increasing digitization of customer channels, for example, via ecommerce, mobile apps, or chatbots. Some 35 percent have further digitized their supply chains, for example, by connecting their suppliers with digital platforms in supply chain management.

Adoption of automation technologies—including robotics, autonomous vehicles, and AI-driven software that can perform processing workflows—has also accelerated during the pandemic, although to a lesser extent than digitization. These trends reflect automation’s ability to facilitate contactless interactions at a time of social distancing and heightened awareness of hygiene, as well as cost pressures that may arise from the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. Another plus: robots don’t get sick.

For example, during the pandemic, American Eagle Outfitters deployed robots to help it sort clothes in its warehouses to meet a surge of online orders, and IBM saw a surge in new customers in the second quarter of 2020 for its AI-driven Watson Assistant, a platform for deploying chatbots and other customer services. Use of such technologies allows contactless customer interaction in a period when human contact is discouraged and builds resilience by limiting reliance on virus-susceptible employees. Providers of cloud services, such as Amazon and Alibaba, have announced plans to markedly step up investment in cloud services, an indication that they expect increased demand related to changes in the workplace post-COVID.

Nearly half of executives note that their adoption of automation has accelerated moderately, and roughly 20 percent report significantly increasing automation. Across countries, the United States and India stand out, with 83 percent of executives surveyed in the United States, and 70 percent of executives surveyed in India, reporting faster adoption of automation.

Companies across industries are reporting increased adoption of automation. Brain Corp, for example, reported that the use of robots to clean retail locations in the United States had risen 13.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 and 24.0 percent in the following quarter, compared with the same periods in 2019.  With a higher volume of packages moving through sorting centers, FedEx and other distribution companies have deployed more robots to mitigate the impact of having fewer employees on site because of social distancing.

While executives in all sectors report increased adoption of digitization and automation, those in the financial services and technology sectors have seen the greatest acceleration of such technologies since the COVID-19 outbreak. Some 88 percent of finance and insurance executives and 76 percent of information and technology executives reported increased implementation of automation and AI since the outbreak. These sectors were leaders in digitization and automation prior to the pandemic, and the peculiarities of the coronavirus made the advantage of digital payments and other machine-powered activities clear. Use of tap credit cards and cashless money transfer systems has risen during the pandemic, and more and more transactions are taking place online. From April to May this year, downloads of the Venmo person-to-person payments app rose 16.5 and 20.1 percent at Square Cash.  Consumer migration to digital banking of this sort may mean fewer bank employees are needed in retail branches.

Adoption of automation and AI has expanded most among firms that had a greater shift to remote work since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to our survey. Among executives of companies that moved most of their employees to remote work during the pandemic, 80 percent said they had increased automation, while only 51 percent of executives from companies that adopted remote work for just a few employees said automation had grown.

Even amid the rapid changes that are underway, executives are confident about their companies’ ability to navigate these changes. Eighty-two percent say they feel at least somewhat confident—with half saying they’re highly confident. One silver lining from the pandemic is that companies have found they can adopt new technologies much faster than they previously thought. As Microsoft’s CEO has famously said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

Before the pandemic, remote work had struggled to establish much of a beachhead, as companies worried about its impact on productivity and corporate culture. With the advent of COVID-19, however, tens of millions of employees were sent home, armed with laptops and other digital technologies, to start work. Now, some employers intend to increase the number of their employees working remotely at least some of the time, although at far lower levels than seen during lockdowns and quarantines.

Across all sectors, 15 percent of executives surveyed amid the pandemic said at least one-tenth of their employees could work remotely two or more days a week going forward, almost double the 8 percent of respondents who expressed that intention before COVID-19. This varies by country, with 20 percent of executives surveyed in the United Kingdom and Germany saying that at least one-tenth of their employees could work remotely two or more days a week going forward, which drops to only 4 percent among respondents in China. Extending remote work beyond two days a week, however, was less popular among respondents overall, with just 7 percent saying at least one-tenth of their employees could work three or more days a week remotely.

The potential for remote work is highly concentrated in a handful of sectors, such as information and technology, finance and insurance, and management, and executives from those sectors show greater intent to deploy their employees remotely. Some 34 percent of respondents from the information and technology sector said they expect to have at least one-tenth of their employees working remotely for at least two days a week after COVID-19, compared with 22 percent of executives from that sector surveyed before the pandemic. Most of the companies that have announced plans for greater remote work among their employees are from the technology of finance sectors, notably Facebook, Twitter, and Hitachi. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, for instance, recently announced that it would close five offices in smaller cities around the United States and have employees there work remotely. Similarly, Morgan Stanley and Mondelez have said they will be using hybrid work models going forward. With such corporate leaders setting new expectations for how and where work gets done, remote work could become a way to lower real estate costs and compete for talent.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that more than 60 percent of workers in the US economy cannot work remotely. Their jobs require at least some physical presence such as standing on a meat processing line, helping customers in a store, or providing healthcare services. In less economically developed countries, the share of workers unable to work remotely is even higher. The potential for remote work depends on the nature of tasks conducted; workers in jobs requiring interaction with machinery or in outdoor spaces, for example, are less likely to be able to work remotely than those using computers to do their work.

There will be challenges in managing a workforce that is working partly remotely and partly in person. Companies will need to reconstruct how work is done, decide which employees and roles are best suited to remote work, and reconfigure and rethink the workplace.

COVID-19 has drawn intense attention to issues of sanitation and workplace safety. In our survey, 83 percent of respondents said they would hire more people for health and safety roles. Of these, 73 percent of executives said they expect to hire more people to manage on-site physical distancing and sanitation. This is also an area, however, where companies could deploy robotics. Robots now can clean floors, windows, and ducts, and one robot even promises to kill bacteria in hospital settings.

As workspaces are redesigned, companies will likely add new roles in facilities management. Workers specializing in things like ventilation and elevator operations will become more important, as will custodians and caterers. Gone is the coffee bar, replaced perhaps by a station where temperatures are taken. More space between workspaces and employees assigned to zones to better prevent disease spread will require new roles in security.

Some 35 percent of survey respondents said they would need more workers skilled in automation, AI, and robotics, a reflection of the increased deployment of automation during COVID-19. Companies as varied as Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, and AT&T already have built programs to retrain their employees losing jobs to automation in new skills that complement automation. Such skills currently are rare among the workforce, and retraining employees in them typically costs companies less than laying them off.

Two years from now, about 70 percent of the executives in our survey expect to use more temporary workers and contractors onsite at their companies than they did before the crisis.

The intention to migrate to a model with greater reliance on on-site contractors is particularly pronounced in the accommodation and food services sector, as well as in healthcare and social assistance.

Uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out and when economies will regain momentum may be among the reasons for plans to increase the number of contractors they use. Another reason to make labor a variable cost through contracting may reflect cost pressures companies experience as they work to survive through the downturn.

COVID-19 already has dramatically changed the way many jobs are done, and employers are now planning how best to extract benefits from those changes as they prepare for business after the pandemic subsides. Greater digitization and automation, more demand for independent contractors, and increased reliance on remote work have the potential to deliver better productivity, lower costs, and enhance resilience. Innovation historically has driven changes beneficial to workers and humanity at large, and new workplace trends hold the promise of greater productivity that will fuel broader well-being. The trick will be in reducing the risk of unequal outcomes, ensuring companies of all sizes can benefit, and preparing workers for these shifts.

Full article with thanks to https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/what-800-executives-envision-for-the-postpandemic-workforce

What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workforce
What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workforce

What 800 executives envision for the postpandemic workforce

Full article with thanks to https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/what-800-executives-envision-for-the-postpandemic-workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruption to our working lives in the short term, and is likely to change the way that we work in the long term.1 To understand these changes, McKinsey commissioned a survey of business executives around the world in June 2020. The results suggest that the crisis may accelerate some workforce trends already underway, such as the adoption of automation and digitization, increased demand for contractors and gig workers, and more remote work. Those changes in turn will create greater demand for workers to fill jobs in areas like health and hygiene, cybersecurity, and data analytics.

The responses to the survey point to a period of disruptive change ahead. Not only has COVID-19 thrown millions of individuals out of work, but the mix of jobs that emerge from this crisis is likely different than those that were lost. People with the lowest incomes and educational attainment have been disproportionately affected, putting strains on achieving inclusive growth and potentially raising income inequality. Small and midsize businesses and communities of color, already more severely affected by COVID-19, are also more vulnerable to disruption from increased automation.

These insights are based on a recent survey of 800 executives, representing a full range of industries in eight countries. Half of the respondents are based in the United States, and the rest work in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The respondents represented businesses of different sizes, with a quarter from companies with less than $1 billion in revenues, and the remainder split between companies with revenues of $1 billion to $10 billion and those with revenues over $10 billion.

Since the start of COVID-19, executives say adoption of digitization and automation technologies has accelerated

Unprecedented restrictions on travel, physical interactions, and changes in consumer behavior since COVID-19 took hold has forced companies and consumers to change the way they operate. This has spurred digital transformations in a matter of weeks rather than months or years. As nonessential workers shifted to working from home, 85 percent of respondents in the McKinsey survey said their businesses have somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration, such as videoconferencing and filesharing. Roughly half of those surveyed reported increasing digitization of customer channels, for example, via ecommerce, mobile apps, or chatbots. Some 35 percent have further digitized their supply chains, for example, by connecting their suppliers with digital platforms in supply chain management.

Adoption of automation technologies—including robotics, autonomous vehicles, and AI-driven software that can perform processing workflows—has also accelerated during the pandemic, although to a lesser extent than digitization. These trends reflect automation’s ability to facilitate contactless interactions at a time of social distancing and heightened awareness of hygiene, as well as cost pressures that may arise from the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19. Another plus: robots don’t get sick.

For example, during the pandemic, American Eagle Outfitters deployed robots to help it sort clothes in its warehouses to meet a surge of online orders, and IBM saw a surge in new customers in the second quarter of 2020 for its AI-driven Watson Assistant, a platform for deploying chatbots and other customer services.3 Use of such technologies allows contactless customer interaction in a period when human contact is discouraged and builds resilience by limiting reliance on virus-susceptible employees. Providers of cloud services, such as Amazon and Alibaba, have announced plans to markedly step up investment in cloud services, an indication that they expect increased demand related to changes in the workplace post-COVID.

Nearly half of executives note that their adoption of automation has accelerated moderately, and roughly 20 percent report significantly increasing automation. Across countries, the United States and India stand out, with 83 percent of executives surveyed in the United States, and 70 percent of executives surveyed in India, reporting faster adoption of automation.

Companies across industries are reporting increased adoption of automation. Brain Corp, for example, reported that the use of robots to clean retail locations in the United States had risen 13.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 and 24.0 percent in the following quarter, compared with the same periods in 2019.4 With a higher volume of packages moving through sorting centers, FedEx and other distribution companies have deployed more robots to mitigate the impact of having fewer employees on site because of social distancing.5

While executives in all sectors report increased adoption of digitization and automation, those in the financial services and technology sectors have seen the greatest acceleration of such technologies since the COVID-19 outbreak. Some 88 percent of finance and insurance executives and 76 percent of information and technology executives reported increased implementation of automation and AI since the outbreak. These sectors were leaders in digitization and automation prior to the pandemic, and the peculiarities of the coronavirus made the advantage of digital payments and other machine-powered activities clear. Use of tap credit cards and cashless money transfer systems has risen during the pandemic, and more and more transactions are taking place online. From April to May this year, downloads of the Venmo person-to-person payments app rose 16.5 and 20.1 percent at Square Cash.6 Consumer migration to digital banking of this sort may mean fewer bank employees are needed in retail branches.

Adoption of automation and AI has expanded most among firms that had a greater shift to remote work since the outbreak of COVID-19, according to our survey. Among executives of companies that moved most of their employees to remote work during the pandemic, 80 percent said they had increased automation, while only 51 percent of executives from companies that adopted remote work for just a few employees said automation had grown.

Even amid the rapid changes that are underway, executives are confident about their companies’ ability to navigate these changes. Eighty-two percent say they feel at least somewhat confident—with half saying they’re highly confident. One silver lining from the pandemic is that companies have found they can adopt new technologies much faster than they previously thought. As Microsoft’s CEO has famously said, “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”7

Some remote work is here to stay, but not for everyone or for every workday

Before the pandemic, remote work had struggled to establish much of a beachhead, as companies worried about its impact on productivity and corporate culture. With the advent of COVID-19, however, tens of millions of employees were sent home, armed with laptops and other digital technologies, to start work. Now, some employers intend to increase the number of their employees working remotely at least some of the time, although at far lower levels than seen during lockdowns and quarantines.

Across all sectors, 15 percent of executives surveyed amid the pandemic said at least one-tenth of their employees could work remotely two or more days a week going forward, almost double the 8 percent of respondents who expressed that intention before COVID-19. This varies by country, with 20 percent of executives surveyed in the United Kingdom and Germany saying that at least one-tenth of their employees could work remotely two or more days a week going forward, which drops to only 4 percent among respondents in China. Extending remote work beyond two days a week, however, was less popular among respondents overall, with just 7 percent saying at least one-tenth of their employees could work three or more days a week remotely.

The potential for remote work is highly concentrated in a handful of sectors, such as information and technology, finance and insurance, and management, and executives from those sectors show greater intent to deploy their employees remotely. Some 34 percent of respondents from the information and technology sector said they expect to have at least one-tenth of their employees working remotely for at least two days a week after COVID-19, compared with 22 percent of executives from that sector surveyed before the pandemic. Most of the companies that have announced plans for greater remote work among their employees are from the technology of finance sectors, notably Facebook, Twitter, and Hitachi. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, for instance, recently announced that it would close five offices in smaller cities around the United States and have employees there work remotely. Similarly, Morgan Stanley and Mondelez have said they will be using hybrid work models going forward. With such corporate leaders setting new expectations for how and where work gets done, remote work could become a way to lower real estate costs and compete for talent.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that more than 60 percent of workers in the US economy cannot work remotely. Their jobs require at least some physical presence such as standing on a meat processing line, helping customers in a store, or providing healthcare services. In less economically developed countries, the share of workers unable to work remotely is even higher.8 The potential for remote work depends on the nature of tasks conducted; workers in jobs requiring interaction with machinery or in outdoor spaces, for example, are less likely to be able to work remotely than those using computers to do their work.

There will be challenges in managing a workforce that is working partly remotely and partly in person. Companies will need to reconstruct how work is done, decide which employees and roles are best suited to remote work, and reconfigure and rethink the workplace.

Companies plan to increase roles in health and hygiene

COVID-19 has drawn intense attention to issues of sanitation and workplace safety. In our survey, 83 percent of respondents said they would hire more people for health and safety roles. Of these, 73 percent of executives said they expect to hire more people to manage on-site physical distancing and sanitation. This is also an area, however, where companies could deploy robotics. Robots now can clean floors, windows, and ducts, and one robot even promises to kill bacteria in hospital settings.

As workspaces are redesigned, companies will likely add new roles in facilities management. Workers specializing in things like ventilation and elevator operations will become more important, as will custodians and caterers. Gone is the coffee bar, replaced perhaps by a station where temperatures are taken. More space between workspaces and employees assigned to zones to better prevent disease spread will require new roles in security.

Some 35 percent of survey respondents said they would need more workers skilled in automation, AI, and robotics, a reflection of the increased deployment of automation during COVID-19. Companies as varied as Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, and AT&T already have built programs to retrain their employees losing jobs to automation in new skills that complement automation. Such skills currently are rare among the workforce, and retraining employees in them typically costs companies less than laying them off.

When hiring for on-site roles, executives expect to rely much more on contractors and temporary workers

Two years from now, about 70 percent of the executives in our survey expect to use more temporary workers and contractors onsite at their companies than they did before the crisis.

The intention to migrate to a model with greater reliance on on-site contractors is particularly pronounced in the accommodation and food services sector, as well as in healthcare and social assistance.

Uncertainty about how the pandemic will play out and when economies will regain momentum may be among the reasons for plans to increase the number of contractors they use. Another reason to make labor a variable cost through contracting may reflect cost pressures companies experience as they work to survive through the downturn.

COVID-19 already has dramatically changed the way many jobs are done, and employers are now planning how best to extract benefits from those changes as they prepare for business after the pandemic subsides. Greater digitization and automation, more demand for independent contractors, and increased reliance on remote work have the potential to deliver better productivity, lower costs, and enhance resilience. Innovation historically has driven changes beneficial to workers and humanity at large, and new workplace trends hold the promise of greater productivity that will fuel broader well-being. The trick will be in reducing the risk of unequal outcomes, ensuring companies of all sizes can benefit, and preparing workers for these shifts.

Full article with thanks to https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/what-800-executives-envision-for-the-postpandemic-workforce

How to lead digital transformation through change management

Full article with thanks to https://www.itproportal.com/features/how-to-lead-digital-transformation-through-change-management/

As enterprises move to a digital-first world, change management must shift at the same pace.

There’s so much information concerning operational evolution and how businesses should undergo such processes in order to remain relevant.

But before delving into the powers of a well-executed project, such as digital transformation, the first step that’s required is to understand what it is – or rather, what it’s not.

For example, such a program shouldn’t solely revolve around moving infrastructure into a public cloud, buying the latest – and greatest – application nor simply deploying a SaaS solution in place of something on-premise. In fact, digital transformation has its roots more in the business as opposed to the IT department itself.

With any misconceptions outlined, the next step is to define what is true digital transformation? Firstly, it aligns both the company and customer requirements to the right technology, at the right time. It enforces organizations to challenge what isn’t working – and develop a plan to remediate. It’s about understanding current operations and enabling product owners to articulate what technological adoption and advancement is required.

A digital transformation’s focus should be on automating practices to address operational efficiency because – when executed well – an organization can enhance the way in which it is run and ultimately prioritize people, processes and technology. Adopting a holistic approach is more likely to realize a firm’s desired business benefits.

The evolution of diversification

As more enterprises move to a digital-first world, the role of change management must shift at the same pace to meet fresh challenges. For example, methods that focus on the human impact – such as user experience and design thinking – must now be front and center of any transformation program.

So, where do organizations begin when embarking upon such a revolutionary project? Here are five practices to consider.

1. Employees must be at the heart of any transformation

Traditionally, IT departments have left the integration of change management as a final step. In other words, the focus has previously been on implementing technology and then tackling how it would influence a firm’s processes and people. It’s here where modern-day thinking has to be slightly reimagined.

Engaging with employees about what is working well – and what is not – must be a priority before performing any aspect of digital transformation. In fact, workforces should be the ones to provide the reasons for change in the first place.

Addressing real operational issues for users should, in turn, help to drive support and generate excitement about the proposed program.

2. Build senior level support from the outset

Obtaining non-IT leadership backing is another important phase – and one that is often ignored. Could this be because of a perceived language barrier between the business and technology? Perhaps.

Therefore, it’s vital to communicate with all colleagues and underline the benefits and material business impact as a result of any change. If this step isn’t taken seriously, the wider company may be more resistant to new ways of working.

To get senior leadership on board, change managers should understand the enterprise’s pain points and provide practical solutions. This can be addressed throughout – there’s often no need to make a dramatic modification that will turn a company on its head. Additionally, that means all employees are presented with the opportunity to adjust because they’ve been part of the consultation from the beginning.

3. Understand the technology on a deeper level

One of the most critical stages of any digital diversification is explaining to staff how it will alter the way they currently work – and ensuring they can continue to do their jobs whilst the project is in full swing.

Again, communication is key, so program leaders must ensure they have allocated the right resources and support to provide teams with the correct training, so they understand new processes – and also why change is necessary.

4. Failing to plan is planning to fail

For any operational shift, having a strategy in place is vital – but it must be agile to meet ever-evolving demands – whether that concerns customers, employees or the marketing in general.

It is always risky to have a plan ‘set in stone’ because embarking on this kind of project demands flexibility. Having the confidence to tweak the framework accordingly enables the program to adapt to of-the-moment requirements, and also prevent it from becoming completely redundant.

5. Focus on the company culture

Several studies have shown that developing a positive internal environment can fall behind the processes and technological elements when it comes to digital readiness. However, transformation should always influence how a business operates on a cultural level. Ultimately the adjustments brought about by the project should enhance both user and customer interactions.

If executed well, digitalization brings clarity to operations and can provide the catalyst for a collaborative environment. Of course, it doesn’t always come easy but change management means creating open – and effective – dialogue with colleagues to keep them abreast of inhouse developments.

With a focus on team togetherness and remaining stakeholder-inclusive, managers can help their cause when attempting to convert any traditional ‘naysayers’ within the firm, alongside helping to promote innovation and reduce program delivery time.

Digital transformation is a complex task

Such a program requires entire teams to be prepared – and for communication to remain a priority. Managers must be able to articulate a clear vision for the future, but understand that this project isn’t a company’s final destination because it takes much more than a single revision to continue innovating.

Undergoing a process that embraces more automated, efficient operations, cultural change and effective communication can help companies to reap the overall business benefits that a successful digital transformation project can deliver.

Full article with thanks to https://www.itproportal.com/features/how-to-lead-digital-transformation-through-change-management/

How to lead digital transformation through change management
A GUIDE TO DEFINING AND IMPLEMENTING YOUR DIGITAL STRATEGY

A GUIDE TO DEFINING AND IMPLEMENTING YOUR DIGITAL STRATEGY

Full article with thanks to https://blog.walkme.com/digital-strategy/

When someone says the word digital strategy, marketing may immediately pop into mind. But digital strategy is the overall approach a company will take to define what type of software they invest in and how to maximize that software. Table of Contentshide1. What is digital strategy?2. Why is a digital strategy important?3. Five essential questions for planning your strategy

As we enter a new decade, shaping a digital strategy is more than a recommendation – it’s essential for any organization that strives to stay competitive. Enterprises of all sizes and sectors are reevaluating every ingredient of their processes, both internal and consumer-facing. Injecting digital solutions here and there is no longer enough. Businesses of tomorrow will need to build their digital strategies from the ground up. 

What is digital strategy?

Digital strategy means the strategic implementation of new digital capabilities and software systems, allowing for scaled maximization of the business operations and goals. It calls for applying new technologies to existing business activities as a way of enhancing supply chain efficiency, product fulfillment, customer experience, relationship nurturing and internal alignment and management.

A robust digital strategy involves a number of components. These can include:

  • Optimized and wide-ranging cloud services 
  • Data-driven analysis and prediction of individual customer behavior  
  • Web analytics to better understand company strengths and weaknesses
  • customer relationship management (CRM) platform where businesses can store current and potential customer data, track interactions and improve customer retention 
  • Integration of multiplatform and device communications like web, mobile, and social media
  • Insight-based KPIs and monitoring of progress and results
  • Internal HR systems for tracking and optimizing recruitment, onboarding, and employee records and performance

An effective digital strategy is obviously contingent on the proper integration of new and emerging technologies and software platforms. The ideal strategy involves incorporating all of these elements into the greater company vision and purpose, a task so exacting that in recent years it became the main focus of one C-suite role.

A clear adoption plan is therefore crucial for digital strategy planning so that each element can be smoothly integrated and fully maximized.  

Why is a digital strategy important?

Designing your strategy can make all the difference. Below are the boxes to tick to ensure a fluid and successful digital plan. 

Ecosystem expectations

Going digital is no longer optional or ‘best practice’, it’s the standard for successful business strategy and organizational alignment. In a very tangible way, digital is disrupting the economic underpinnings of business as it’s always been done.

Virtually every company on the planet will increasingly require digital strategies and innovative software to accommodate the need to scale and stay agile as the landscape continues to rapidly evolve.  

Avoid long shortcuts

Cutting corners and manual fixes may be comfortable in the immediate, but neither will serve you in the long run. Aside from delaying the inevitable, companies that drag their feet with digital implementation risk putting themselves at a serious and potentially irreversible market disadvantage.

Streamlined internal operations

Digital strategy begins at home, and a roster of properly adopted new software tools will eliminate a significant amount of internal bloat. Setting up the right technology to assign tasks to the right department and person, carrying out optimized training and onboarding, and streamlining cross-company communications and collaborative projects means that employees will be more available to focus on the tasks they were hired to do.

Using software seamlessly and constructively instead of constantly having to figure out or fix it makes a huge difference to productivity, employee morale and a positive ROI. 

Customer interfacing

When it comes to UX, customers today expect a certain standard of digital services, communications, and connectivity. If this is flawed or absent due to lack of digital strategy, customers will notice—and so will your bottom line.  

Right move, right time

Harnessing the right strategy and adoption plan will go a long way in cutting long term costs and exponentially propelling productivity. Sure, it’s an investment, and the unknown can be intimidating. But the graveyard of non-adaptive tech companies is littered with the Kodaks and Blockbusters of yesteryear for failing to pivot before it was too late… don’t let that be you! 

Data management and monetization

Clarity of purpose is the cornerstone of any digital strategy initiative, and data is the cornerstone of clear business decision making.

Using correctly applied data is a key digital strategy component in obtaining valuable metrics on virtually every aspect of business, internal and external alike. The information yielded from properly managed data is one of the most important factors when the goal is to innovate and adapt.   

Five essential questions for planning your strategy

The movement toward digital strategy initiation can be boiled down to 5 essential questions. Enterprises armed with the answers are already more than halfway to digital enablement: 

  1. What is the potential impact of digital transformation in your company?  
  2. What would your organization’s target market, vision, and goals look like if you could invest in any technology?
  3. What are the KPIs of each of your department’s digital capabilities? 
  4. What are the digital tools on the market that can get you there?
  5. What is your digital adoption strategy for implementing and onboarding your organization’s technology?

Common hurdles and challenges to anticipate

Like any major business step, implementing a digital strategy has its share of potential hiccups. Some common challenges in propelling an enterprise toward digital often include gaps in the interconnectivity of various digital tools or lack of synchronization between business and IT goals.

Another standard hurdle involves data management and security. Enterprises must learn to implement scalable data centralization while maintaining rigorous structure and security standards without compromise. 

Luckily, most of these issues can be remedied or circumvented entirely through proper planning and blueprinting, including the deployment of a digital adoption platform (DAP) 

The introduction of digital tools is likely a process that began a while ago in your organization. As we move into the future, tiptoeing forward with patchwork digital fixes will no longer suffice.

For optimized and sustainable performance in everything from sales, to data management, to organizational alignment, an ambitious but practical digital solution strategy is of the essence—now, more than ever before.

Full article with thanks to https://blog.walkme.com/digital-strategy/

Doing vs being: Practical lessons on building an agile…

Full article with thanks https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/doing-vs-being-practical-lessons-on-building-an-agile-culture#

Four global success stories offer insights and lessons learned on achieving organizational agility.

Around the world, a growing number of organizations are embracing agility to improve delivery, increase speed, and enhance customer and employee experience. Indeed, in the time of COVID-19, many organizations have accelerated their shift to agile. Our recent research found that agile organizations responded faster to the crisis, while those that do not embrace agile working may well forfeit the benefits of speed and resilience needed in the “next normal” after the COVID-19 pandemic.

In essence, agility at an enterprise level means moving strategy, structure, processes, people, and technology toward a new operating model by rebuilding an organization around hundreds of self-steering, high-performing teams supported by a stable backbone. On starting an agile transformation, many organizations emphasize and discuss tribes, squads, chapters, scrums, and DevOps pipelines. Our research shows, however, that the people dimension—culture especially—is the most difficult to get right. In fact, the challenges of culture change are more than twice as common as the average of the other top five challenges.

Shifting culture requires dedicated effort. Unfortunately, many organizations on this journey struggle to articulate their aspired agile culture and bring it to life. This article demystifies culture change in an agile world through four practical lessons drawn from real-life success stories from around the world.

Lesson 1: Define the from–tos

Each organization is unique. Accordingly, each needs its unique culture to power the new agile operating model. Organizations building an agile culture should base their approach on aspirational goals. They also need to understand their current culture, including the behavioral pain points that can be used as a starting point to articulate three to five specific mindset and behavior shifts that would make the biggest difference in delivering business results.

At New Zealand–based digital-services and telecommunications company Spark, one of the first steps the leadership team took in its agile transformation was to launch an effort to articulate the cultural from–tos. Spark boldly decided to go all in on agile across the entire organization in 2017—flipping the whole organization to an agile operating model in less than a year. From the beginning, Spark understood that the change needed to be a “hearts and minds” transformation if it was to successfully enable radical shifts to structure, processes, and technology.

Spark’s culture change started with its Sounding Board, a diverse group of 70 volunteers from across the organization. These were opinion leaders—the “water cooler” leaders and Spark’s “neural network”—not the usual suspects visible to management. The Sounding Board’s role was creating buy-in for and comprehension about the new model and designing enablers (behavioral shifts and new values) to help employees along the agile journey.

An early task for the Sounding Board was to identify the behavioral shifts teams would need to thrive in the new agile operating model. Members used their experiences, inspirational examples from other companies, and Spark’s work on culture and talent to define these shifts. And to help inform what changes were necessary, the Sounding Board sought to understand mindsets (those underlying thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that explain why people act the way they do) that were driving behaviors.

The from–to aspirations were then shared with different groups, including the top team, and distilled into four key themes. Each theme had to resonate with colleagues across the organization, be both practical and achievable, be specific to the company (that is, not derived from general agile theory). The resulting articulation of from–to behaviors allowed Spark to understand and compare its existing cultural reality with the desired end state.

Finally, to set up its from–tos as more than words on paper, Spark made culture one of the agile transformation’s work streams, sponsored by a top team member and discussed weekly in transformation sessions. The work stream brought culture to life through action. The from–to changes were incorporated in all major design choices, events, and capability-building activities. The work stream aligned fully with other culture initiatives that would help to move the needle on cultural change, such as diversity and inclusion.

Melissa Anastasiou, the team member who led the company’s culture workstream, observed: “Like many organizations, the company’s experience has been that culture change is hard and does not happen overnight. It takes collective and consistent effort, as well as a genuine belief in and understanding of the ‘why’ at all levels of the organization. Setting a clear and purposeful vision for what great looks like—and ensuring that this vision is authentically bought in from bottom to top that is, from shop floor to C-suite—put us in the best possible position to deliver the change to full business agile.”

Lesson 2: Make it personal

This lesson is about making the change personally meaningful to employees. To take change from the organizational to the personal frontier, leaders need to give their people the space and support to define what the agile mindset means to them. This will differ among senior leaders, middle managers, and frontline staff, and have different implications for each. Inviting colleagues to share personal experiences and struggles can build transformational momentum and unlock transformational energy.

This was an approach adopted by Roche, a 122-year-old biotechnology company with 94,000 employees in more than 100 countries. In order to build an agile culture, Roche facilitated a deep, personal change process among senior leaders. More than 1,000 of these leaders were invited to learn a new, more agile approach to leadership through a four-day immersive program that introduced them to the mindsets and capabilities needed to lead an agile organization. The program, called Kinesis, focused on enabling leaders to shift from a limiting, reactive mindset to an enabling, creative one. It also started the journey of learning how to shift from a traditional organization designed for command, control, and value capture to an agile organization designed for innovation, collaboration, and value creation.

Throughout the program, leaders came to recognize the ways in which their individual mindsets, thoughts, and feelings manifested in the design architecture and culture of the organizations they led. This recognition highlights why change programs that start with personal transformation are more successful. Organizations are built and led by their leaders: the way they think, make decisions, and show up shapes every part of the organization. This dynamic is amplified in agile organizations, which have an unusually high degree of openness and transparency.

The Kinesis program focused on leading through example. Roche’s head of talent innovation (the primary architect of the initiative) heard dozens of stories of leaders coming back from Kinesis and showing up differently. Beyond its learning programs, Kinesis also helped make the change personal by catalyzing large-scale experimentation in organization and business models. Within six months of the senior leader programs, many participants had launched agile experiments with their own leadership teams, departments, and several in their organizational units—engaging thousands of people in cocreating innovative ways to embed agility within the organization.

A core tenet of Kinesis was invitation, not expectation. Leaders were invited to apply lessons learned back to their own organizations. With the new mindset and the invitation, most participants did. Compared with the initial expectations of 5 to 10 percent of participants running a follow-up session with their teams, 95 percent chose to do so.2 Today, agility has been embraced and widely deployed with Roche in many forms and across many of its organizations, engaging tens of thousands of people in applying agile mindsets and ways of working.

Lesson 3: Culturally engineer the architecture

Even the best-designed culture programs can fail if the surrounding context does not support—or worse, hinders—new mindsets and behaviors. To sustain a new culture, the structures, processes, and technology must be redesigned to support behavioral expectations. To be successful, the desired culture change needs to be hardwired into all elements of the business-as-usual organization as well as the transformation.

Magyar Telekom of Hungary (a Deutsche Telekom subsidiary), invested to embed and ingrain agile mindsets and behaviors throughout the agile transformation it started in 2018. As with Spark and Roche, Magyar Telekom began with the foundational lesson of defining its from–to. The telco started with three core values that, as the transformation matured, eventually evolved into seven values and were translated into slogans for more effective communication:3

  • Focus, becoming more focused by critically assessing the current tasks and saying no to things that are not worth the required effort
  • Ownership, encouraging ownership by nudging employees to think of their tasks as if being performed for their own company
  • Retrospection, emphasizing the need to review and assess, celebrating successes and learning from failures

To ensure formal mechanisms supported this agile mindset shift, Magyar Telekom used structural changes on an individual and organizational level, aligning the people, customer, and business processes as well as the physical and digital working environments to an agile culture.

Magyar Telekom’s people processes, for example, practically reflected four principles:

  • All messages employees receive from the company are consistent with its cultural values
  • The cultural values and themes of focus, ownership, and retrospection are embedded in all HR and people processes
  • The employer brand, recruitment process, and onboarding journey ensure every new employee understands the agile culture’s cornerstones
  • Criteria for career progression define and support agile mindsets and behavior shifts

Magyar Telekom’s business processes were also hardwired to support its culture values. One of several examples used to support the focus and retrospective themes was the quarterly business review (QBR), a common element of agile operating models for business planning and resource allocation. QBRs typically involve stakeholders from major areas of the organization to set priorities and manage organizational demand and dependencies.

To further emphasize focus, the telco committed to implementing and scaling the QBR in the whole organization, including nontribe areas such as customer care or field execution. This formal mechanism had strong cultural implications. First, it signaled that the organization was committed to its cultural theme of focus. Second, the company-wide QBR aligned the whole organization around clear priorities, helping employees focus only on activities that create value while explicitly recognizing and deprioritizing activities that do not. Third, the QBR cycle also included retrospectives to understand and learn from previous successes and failures in a formal, structured, and highly visible process.

Another powerful way to ingrain culture is to change the physical and digital environments. Floors and walls can, quite literally, create either collaboration or barriers between teams. Magyar Telekom altered its floor plans to create spaces for individual squads, as well as all squads in a tribe, to sit and work together. The new physical environment promoted collaboration and continuous interactions. Team- level tools were introduced—including spaces for squads’ ceremonies and writeable walls where teams could visualize priorities, track progress, and engage in real-time creative thinking. Similarly, the digital work environment was updated with agile tools such as Jira issue-tracking and Confluence collaboration software, enabling efficient handling of epics, features and user stories. Within weeks, the Magyar Telekom work spaces turned from stereotypical offices to collaborative incubators of the new agile culture.

Lesson 4: Monitor and learn

Continuous learning and improvement is a core principle of agile working. It applies to agile culture as well. Successful agile transformations have shown the value of monitoring progress, evaluating behavioral change and its impact on performance, and running regular retrospectives to learn from successes and failures. However, measuring behavioral change has traditionally been a challenge.

ING, a well-known leader of agile transformations in banking, innovated here and used multiple approaches to track the impact of its agile transformation on productivity and several dimensions of performance, time to market and volume, and employee engagement. As part of these tracking initiatives, ING also tracked the progress of culture change and its impact on the overall transformation. The bank even teamed with INSEAD’s Maria Guadalupe, a professor of economics, to study and improve the quality of tracking efforts and the resulting insights.

ING’s first tracking initiative was a 40-question survey with 1,000 respondents that ran five times between 2015 and 2017. The survey questions, including those related to culture, were linked to the bank’s objectives and key results. This correlation between the transformation’s soft and hard drivers and its performance metrics allowed ING to see which cultural factors led to results and were critical to the transformation’s success. According to Michel Zuidgeest, ING’s lead of Global Change Execution, the product-owner roles and their corresponding behaviors, for example, turned out to be one of the most important factors affecting outcomes. Skill sets for product owners, chapter leads, and agile coaches—as well as the way they work together—were not clearly defined at the start of the transformation, and individuals in these roles had to grow the right mindsets and behaviors before team performance improved.

ING’s second tracking initiative, started in 2019, combined a 300-person “working floor” survey with senior leadership interviews across 15 countries. Once again, metrics on agile included culture-related questions on whether people on the floor felt more responsibility, whether they could collaborate better, and whether they were more able to learn from others in the company. In parallel, ING used qualitative methods to track the shift toward an agile culture. Updated performance frameworks and dialogues, for example, tracked whether employees were adopting desired behaviors while a continuous listening framework gave an ongoing pulse check of how people were doing.

ING used the data from its tracking initiatives to produce practical learning. Survey and interview results were used in QBRs, leadership dialogues, and improvement cycles. Outcomes were shared with tribes, the central works council, advisory groups, and others, and used in performance dialogues. ING also shared its findings with universities, sharpening both the company’s tracking efforts and university research. The value of tracking became very clear. ING managed to measure culture progress, establish the correlation between culture and performance, and use culture data to bring its agile operating model to life.

ING’s tracking initiatives produced insights on agile maturity, performance, and culture. Payam Djavdan, ING’s global head for One Agile Way of Working, explains that as the agile culture metrics improved—specifically the sense of belonging, motivation, purpose, and empowerment—employee engagement consistently increased. Similarly, several dimensions of team performance improved as the culture of credibility and clarity took hold while greater autonomy, a core principle of agile culture, allowed teams to take on their own challenges. In parallel, performance dialogues revealed that trust in tribe leads was a defining factor in employees’ engagement and their ability to share the tribe’s purpose.


Culture counts in all organizational transformations; it becomes critical in agile transformations. Organizations can do agile by changing their structure, processes, and technology. But they cannot be agile without changing the way people work and interact daily. Enabling a successful, agile transformation requires a fundamental shift in culture. Lessons from organizations that have successfully made this shift can give others a head start on their own transformation journeys.

Full article with thanks https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/doing-vs-being-practical-lessons-on-building-an-agile-culture#

Doing vs being: Practical lessons on building an agile…
How to Build a Digital COE

How to Build a Digital COE

Full article with thanks to https://www.panorama-consulting.com/digital-coe/?utm_campaign=Pushnami%20-%20Digital%20Strategy&utm_source=Pushnami

Is your organization considering digital transformation? Even amid the unexpected events of 2020, research shows that 70% of companies are either maintaining or increasing their spending in this realm.

If your organization decides to embark on this journey, it’s time to start thinking about building a digital center of excellence (COE). Today, we’re sharing exactly what this means and why it’s worth pursuing as you consider investing in the tools and technologies that can drive your company forward. 

What is a Digital COE?

Is COE just another three-letter acronym reserved for C-suite executives who only speak in jargon?

Not at all. A COE is something that any organization can build.

At its core, a center of excellence is a team of specialists all working toward a common aim. These specialists bring various backgrounds, educations and experiences to the table, and each one is integral. Though their areas of focus may be different, they’re well-versed in the organization as a whole, including what it takes to succeed.

You see, each of these specialists understands how the entire business value chain works. They’re also familiar with customer expectations and your company’s technology infrastructure.

Not every COE is a digital COE. It is only considered a digital COE if it’s primarily focused on digital operations. It is similar to an ERP center of excellence.

Why do I Need a Digital COE?

If you’re already focused on transitioning from legacy systems onto a new digital platform, and you have enough resources, time and budget, then why should building a digital COE be top of mind?

The answer is simple: Without the right resources in place, your best-laid plans could take you in circles. 

A digital COE gives you the internal infrastructure necessary to compete with digitally disruptive competitors. In other words, it enables your organization to transform its structure, culture, technology and customer experience. 

In addition, a digital COE facilitates collaboration between your company’s various digital stakeholders, including:

  • Technology experts
  • Process optimization specialists
  • Business unit leaders
  • End-users

How to Build a Digital COE

Now that we’ve covered what a digital COE entails, let’s take a closer look at how you can begin building one in your own organization.

1. Prioritize Your COE

When you decide to undergo a digital transformation, it’s tempting to rush right into the ERP selection process. However, it’s important to take a step back and ensure your internal foundation is firm.

You can do this by building a digital COE and relying on this team to help you map your current business processes and look for pain points. This informs your digital strategy, revealing which technologies you should adopt and how they should be leveraged to meet your ongoing business goals.

2. Keep Customers at the Center

Ultimately, every investment your company makes, from marketing collateral to ERP software, has the same overarching focus: your target audience.

For this reason, your digital COE should likewise be customer minded. In fact, one of your first steps should be tasking your COE with understanding your customers’ needs. Without an understating of customer needs, you could wind up straining the corporate budget on resources that your buyers don’t connect with or use. 

As your COE analyzes buying patterns and reviews customer feedback, it also should map out the individual journey each customer should take. This ensures that your future state business processes support a seamless customer journey.

3. Diversify Roles

Not every person in your COE will be responsible for the same tasks. Rather, the beauty and functionality of this group lies in its diverse mix of talents and skill sets. 

Use this to your advantage and assign different roles and priorities depending on each person’s core competencies. These might include:

  • Compliance
  • Regulatory issues
  • Planning
  • Maintenance
  • Finance
  • Quality assurance

4. Leverage the COE for Change Management Support

Members of your digital COE will work alongside your other employees, acting as their champion and key resource. As organizational changes are rolled out, these team members will report on the status and keep employees up to date on key milestones. 

This team also can facilitate user adoption by assisting with change management efforts. Before, during and after an ERP implementation, your COE should help provide stakeholders with the skills, support and tools they need to take advantage of new technologies.

5. Focus on Continuous Improvement

In the time that follows a digital transformation, there are bound to be inevitable kinks to work out and adjustments to make. An ERP system that you thought was user-friendly might prove otherwise, and a new process may not be as efficient as you first imagined. 

This is another place your COE can take action. Task these individuals with continually optimizing business processes and technology based on user feedback. This might require simple adjustments, or it might require business process reengineering, depending on the scale of the situation. 

Focusing on continuous improvement is one way to ensure that employees feel involved and that they continue to embrace organizational changes.

A COE is Key to Digital Transformation

In the time that follows a digital transformation, there are bound to be inevitable kinks to work out and adjustments to make. An ERP system that you thought was user-friendly might prove otherwise, and a new process may not be as efficient as you first imagined. 

This is another place your COE can take action. Task these individuals with continually optimizing business processes and technology based on user feedback. This might require simple adjustments, or it might require business process reengineering, depending on the scale of the situation. 

Focusing on continuous improvement is one way to ensure that employees feel involved and that they continue to embrace organizational changes.

Full article with thanks to https://www.panorama-consulting.com/digital-coe/?utm_campaign=Pushnami%20-%20Digital%20Strategy&utm_source=Pushnami

Change management in the agile world – Willing, able and ready

Full article with thanks to https://www.thoughtworks.com/insights/blog/change-management-agile-world-getting-ready-war

“What do you mean there’s no big bang release date? How will we know what to build if we don’t know what the thing will do far in advance? How can we train people to use something if we don’t have all the user requirements and specs up front?” Such questions ring through the hallways of companies making the transition from a waterfall to an agile way of designing and delivering software.

Even companies that pride themselves on being agile may struggle with what comes next, once their MVP is code complete. Many of our clients struggle with how to bring users along for the change as they develop their software iteratively. If they focused on change management at all in the past, they usually did so with an all-or-nothing mindset, with a specific release deadline and lots of effort leading up to a big bang release. This model doesn’t work in an agile environment where the product is never “done” and where new functionality, features, and products are constantly being developed, piloted and adapted.

Supporting change: Willing, able and ready (WAR)

Regardless of how a technology product is rolled out, the most challenging part is almost always user adoption. I often tease clients that “technology is easy, it’s people that are difficult” because of our preconceptions, habits, and preferences. Technology adoption will always be challenging unless we equip users to accept it.  We are used to the phrase, “ready, willing and able,” but I think that the more logical and effective progression is:

1. Willing: “I want to do this.’’

2. Able: “I know how to do this.”

3. Ready: “Okay, let’s do this”/ “I am going to do this.”

Exhibit 1: WAR: Are your users willing, able and ready? 

To make change stick: The agile change plan

Every good change management plan has the same basic elements: leadership and stakeholder alignment, communication, training, and activities to support business readiness.

Elements of the agile change planExhibit 2: Planning for change

How agile change management is different

What we have found is that agile change management means not only introducing users to and involving them in the development of new products and platforms, but also influencing them to think differently about the process. In an agile change program, activities have a slightly different flavor than in traditional programs. Just as discovery and development are continuous and iterative, so too are the change management activities.

Agile - old vs new way

Exhibit 3: Agile change management – The difference

Agile OCM (Organizational Change Management) in action

“This approach makes so much sense and thinking about what being ‘willing, able and ready’  really helped us to develop a good plan. Understanding that we also could take an agile approach to our launch and adoption activities made it a much more manageable and sustainable process.” (Client launch manager/change lead)Recently, I have been working with a major retailer to implement a custom service platform which is used by both internal and external users. It is designed to replace multiple existing systems and a plethora of currently heavily manual processes. Naturally, a transformation of this magnitude takes some time to achieve, but that doesn’t mean that real business value cannot be achieved with smaller chunks of functionality delivered at more frequent intervals.

Using an agile change management approach, the product team aligned its change efforts to the iterative development cycle:

Discovery: Together, members of the cross-functional team aligned on the “big why” with the business leadership, helping to shape a compelling vision that would act as the North Star throughout development. They used personas to identify the needs, expectations, and reservations of the various stakeholder groups to help shape the outlines of the plan. They also laid out plans for how to educate users about the agile journey.

Inception: As the team agreed on the MVP and the initial thin slice of functionality to deliver, the members responsible for launch and adoption also considered the question: “What is the thinnest slice we can take to achieve initial results?” What is an acceptable pilot? What will be the impact of the initial functionality and what is the simplest way to repeat and test relevant training?  What is an acceptable low fidelity way to begin communication? What are the most important messages to convey at first?

MVP Delivery: As the developers were working on the minimal viable product, the team members responsible for managing change also worked with an MVP mindset, for both content and delivery. Rather than building a big training plan highlighting all the benefits and functionality of a future product, they engaged pilot teams with “just enough” bite-sized training modules. Instead of investing a significant amount of time and resources in sophisticated communications at the beginning they started with simple, lower fidelity tools that could be tested and adapted quickly to user feedback.

Iterative Development: Following the rollout of the MVP, the change management activities kept pace with the expanding and evolving functionality. As the design team workshopped the product and gathered feedback from customers, this input was incorporated into training and communications materials. Members of pilot groups became change champions who became advocates across expanding networks. And with each iteration,  not only the content but the format of the change and communication tools evolved to become more sophisticated and robust:

Stakeholder alignment: From small workshops and one-on-one meetings to cross-functional design sessions to product champions to champion network
Communication: From individual slides and email blasts to product roadshows to all-company exhibitions
Training: From in-person demonstrations to recorded videos to self-paced digital tutorials
Business readiness: From individual paper checklists to crowdsourced task lists to automated onboarding

The takeaway

For any major change, product and development teams must take their users along on a journey, preparing them to be willing, able and ready to embrace the new product. The best way to do this is not with lofty expectations for massive big-bang transformation in one go. Rather, it is with a flexible, constantly evolving program of tools and activities that, like the product itself, start with an MVP then expand and evolve in response to user feedback.

Full article with thanks to https://www.thoughtworks.com/insights/blog/change-management-agile-world-getting-ready-war

Change management in the agile world – Willing, able and ready