The most difficult change is the change in people’s mindset, especially when they are used to perform and do the same activities for a quite long time in the same way.
People minds are usually wired to only see the value of their used traditional methods and techniques, and their daily routines. It is hard to convince them to even try to think if there is a better way to do this or that, I feel empathy with those mindsets because most of the time, this routine drags us and prevents us to pause and think about what can be improved!
I participated in various technology projects from small automation projects to complex transformational ones, I believe that any new project is introducing a new change, any new project is a change project that requires change management practices, and that the main reason for the success or the failure of the change is People. Anything is applicable and possible to change, for example, systems, features, data, process, law, structure, model, …etc., only if the people wanted and needed that.
Usually, People who do not want to change their mindset to do & try new things even if it will be better for them and they do not want to realize that. It is not only about the end customer who will use the solution only but is also about the teams who are involved to bring this change from an idea to reality, and the leadership and executives. If the leadership team changed the business priorities, the whole change idea will vanish.
Most of those mindsets are believing in this quote “if it works, do not touch it”, which was adopted mainly from programming humor. Unfortunately, it is widely used at most of the other aspects, such us, processes, procedures, communication ways, methods to gain new knowledge and information, handling customers, solving problems, escalation, …etc. I’m totally against that because it prevents people neither try new things nor change or improve.
People should start their days by thinking about how to improve and how to create new value to their organizations, customers and society. This brings the motivation to the work environment, thinking and learning new ideas, and challenging the status quo.
“Longevity in this business is about being able to reinvent yourself or invent the future.”Satya Nadella
Every day, there are new changes worldwide, technology is an enabler for the change and can be a driver as well, but not the only driver that makes a change. The organization needs to have the business drivers and objectives on why they need to adopt a specific technology and try new things, the technology alone can lead to innovation and unanticipated changes, but without the welling to conform with other parallel organization changes to support that adoption, it will be useless.
“When it comes to marrying online with offline efforts, technology is not a driver, but it is critical in making it happen”Alison Corcoran, CMO and President of DentaQuest Partnership
The reason for saying this, that lots of organizations are seeking digital transformation without real readiness and the growth mindset to change, many organizations are purchasing lots of tools, solutions, technologies without proper planning for how those technologies will affect their internal processes, people, governance, operations …etc.
Digital Transformation is not only a trend that the organizations should follow for the sake of a good reputation and marketing, it is the way for future growth and it needs the whole organization involvement and participation. Leadership needs to push for creating the responsive change climate, leading and sponsoring the changes with accepting the consequences and the associated change risks.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”Charles Darwin
Digital transformation needs planning and lots of planning, it needs revisiting how the organization performs its operation, how they are engaging with their customers, how the employees are empowered to innovate and deliver that change. Digital transformation is not about modernizing the way you provide the products and services with siloed improvements, for example, having a nice customer facing service portal, without reshaping the processes behind these services and integrating them.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”Alan Lakein, author
Transformation is not time-bounded, it is a continuous journey that creates digital culture with new mindsets. It needs patience, continuous feedback, continuous measurement, and learning from others’ experience.
“Think of digital transformation less as a technology project to be finished than as a state of perpetual agility, always ready to evolve for whatever customers want next, and you’ll be pointed down the right path.”Amit Zavery, VP and Head of Platform, Google Cloud
Let me tell you two stories that I have experienced.
Online payment story
Months ago, I wanted to renew the membership of the engineering syndicate, I did not have enough time for a few years to do that. The good thing was that I found an online service that enables me to renew the membership. So, I created an account in this third party online payment gateway, and I paid. Then, I waited to receive the notification with the new membership card delivery date. I had a high expectation then nothing happened!
I contacted the service support team and asked them about the status and when the delivery will happen! The funny thing was, the support team did not even find my account. So, the chat turned into finding my account and sending the screenshot of my account from the payment portal with a screenshot from the payment notification which was not easy to find.
After an hour of troubleshooting, finally, they have found the account and informed me that we are only for payment and we do not know anything about the delivery or the status of the renewal, you should contact the syndicate directly.
At the same time, while I was discussing the missing account issue. I was trying to validate the renewal, so I went to the syndicate’s website and started seeing my subscription status and It was not renewed.
So, it was like another unpleasant situation. In the end, I had to visit the syndicate, show them the transaction ID of the payment as a proof, then I got the new membership card.
The observation here, that most of the new payment services are siloed and not integrated with the internal processes of the service providers. It is good to start some improvements, but the organizations should think about the end-to-end user journey here and how the end-user will engage with each step, what will be the improvements, and what will be the expectation. It is important to design for better experience while doing improvement not to end with the same frustrating experience.
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”Bill Gates
This exactly what happened, it was a magnified inefficiency, the end-user will not care and even notice about how this was done internally, was the process automated or not, however he will care about how the experience was efficient to have the end results and the desired outcomes.
A Government Service story
A few weeks ago, there was a mandatory new service that all vehicles’ owners should comply with within a specific period. Every vehicle should have an electronic tag to be placed in the vehicle, to help the traffic department easily identifying them. Which is a great improvement that will benefit the country and even the vehicles’ owners.
So, as a citizen who owns a vehicle, I wanted to comply. So, I searched online on how to do that, I found scattered information that helped me to understand the process. While the traffic department did magnificent effort lately to automate the vehicle licenses renewals and start their digital transformation journey. It was quite surprising that this new service was operated manually without having a digital channel.
I was expecting to request the service online and to receive the tag directly at home, pay the service online, and the delivery employee places the tag directly on the vehicle and that’s it. Another scenario, to schedule an appointment, pay online, go directly, and place the tag at the traffic office.
Unfortunately, I was a dreamer, and none of those happened! I went to the related traffic office and started the procedures. I observed all running processes are manual and scattered from an employee to another. Every single step is handled by a different employee and the citizen is main star here who is performing the process and walking with his file to be completed and finished a step by step. The office was very crowded, most of the people were trying to comply. It was very time consuming and I had an unpleasant experience.
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”Jack Welch
Although there was a huge effort from the top leadership in the country to digitally transform the government, the digital-first mindset was still not quite adopted in the government. It should be our way of thinking, designing, and delivery of any new services. It is expected to have new introduced services digitally only without putting manual paper processes and try to automate them later!
These were some examples, I observed many similar experiences, you may have your own as well. The main key takeaways for future consideration are:
- The change should start with you, so every individual on his/her work should think about how to improve his way of performing his job, and how we can add additional value to the society, remove existing process wastes.
- Investment in people learning and growth should be the fundamental first thing that the organization should pursue to have successful change.
- The digital-first mindset should be our way of thinking during the digital transformation era, how we can design, operate, engage, govern, and enable digitally.
- Digital transformation is not a fancy thing that all organizations should follow blindly. Yes, it is essential to start the journey if you did not, while proper planning and roadmap should be there
- Digital Transformation is not about having siloed improvements without reimagining the whole journey of the end-users and deliver these improvements in an agile and consistent way.
- Continuous feedback and measurements.
- Improvement without efficiency will create new magnified challenges, leaks, and obstacles. Because you will need to solve the new inefficiencies created beside solving the old inefficiencies that were not resolved in the first attempt.
I know that the change is hard and I’m living that daily, and changing the existing processes and procedures is not that easy. Criticizing is always easier from the outside observers, while the creation and building of new things are way harder. So, step by step with providing the proper change climate is very important and critical for a successful continuous digital transformation and pleasant experience.
Also published on Medium.