June 19, 2018

Digital Transformation & the Fear of Change

Kris Elliott

One of the realities of modern business is that the pressure to change is unrelenting.  Technology is evolving at an exponential pace as the breakthroughs of yesterday are the tools we are using today to invent the technology of tomorrow.   Some changes are massive and can be disruptive your industry Others may be smaller advancements though they mean you can achieve better efficiency or gain a competitive edge over the competition.  Whatever the change is, there is certainty that the continued demand for it will be unrelenting.

While some businesses are quick to adapt, there are others that avoid adopting new technologies because of a fear of change.  There are some businesses that are led by owners and managers who subscribe to a more ‘old school’ way of thinking.  These businesses often have a justifiably proud heritage of providing goods and services in their markets for many decades, but some of the processes and workflows within those organisations are decades old as well.  An institutionalized way of thinking has seeped into the very soul of some companies so much so that they are being dragged forward by the strength of their brand and loyalty of their customers alone.  There is little innovation and an endemic fear of change.

This is never more true than when it comes to IT related technology.  Digital Transformation is moving beyond the point of being an optional consideration and is becoming a series of essential projects that businesses need to start planning for.  One of the undeniable factors in organisations having trouble with technology heavy change is that there is rarely a path between the CIO and CEO roles.  Most CEO’s came through the finance or operations pathway.  Whilst experts in those parts of the operation, they can find it hard to lead technically based projects and consequently many business leaders find IT related projects quite daunting.  Keeping up with innovations and industry trends is an investment of time that many business leaders can’t make so the prospect of change is often quite confronting.

Normally at this point of a blog I’d give you a list of things to assuage your concerns.  Some anecdotes aimed at trying to convince you that its really easy and you have nothing to fear.   But I’m not going to do that.  Instead I want to give you some quotes from some fairly smart people in the hope that it inspires a different way of thinking.

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.”
John Kenneth Galbraith

When It comes to digital transformation projects many people find that the first step is the hardest.  The most difficult person to convince is often yourself.  Accepting that there could be better way of working can be jarring, especially if you yourself can’t think what that way might be or if you were the person who developed the current way of working.  There is a way of thinking that has permeated almost every industry and demands ‘don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions’.  It’s an adage born from a time where identifying a problem was seen as whining whereas developing a solution first meant that you showed initiative.  This mindset can be crippling to innovation as nothing new may be learned unless the boss learns it first.

“The price of doing the same old thing is far higher than the price of change.
Bill Clinton

At the risk of being too simplistic, Digital Transformation is about using technology to evolve the way organisations operate to make them work better.  Staying the same and persisting with the ‘tried & true’ workflows of yester-years may turn out to be costly.  Yes digital transformation will cost money.  New solutions are rarely free.  But you need to frame that expenditure into the context of business development and achievement of efficiencies.  The cost now, and I don’t just mean the financial cost, may pale in comparison to the cost of inaction.

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.”
Peter Senge

The digital transformation process shouldn’t be one that’s forced.  You need to make your staff part of the journey.  They need to be involved so that when change happens its change that’s embraced rather than avoided.  The staff know what frustrates them and where all the ‘surely there is a better way of doing this’ parts of the processes are.  It’s a sentiment that echoes Gary Hamel, an American management expert and founder of Strategos (an international management consulting firm), who once said “You can’t build an adaptable organization without adaptable people – and individuals change only when they have to, or when they want to.”  If your staff have a hand in the evaluation and design of a new system then they will be personally invested in making it work.

“Well done is better than well said”
Benjamin Franklin

Applying that sentiment to modern business essentially means that at some point you need to stop talking about it.  Many projects fall over at the beginning because they get mired in cycle of research where inexperience and uncertainty coalesce into indecision. At some point you need to make a start and engage market vendors who are subject matter experts.  Listen to advice, choose a solutions partner who understands and shares your vision, and never stop learning.

At UpFlow Solutions, Digital Transformation is what we do.  We deliver Digital Transformation solutions every day and we are only too happy answer your questions and provide you with all the help and advice you need to help you on this journey.  The only foolish question is the one you never ask.

Kris Elliott
Solution Sales Executive

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