Digital Transformation is about People’s Choice to Change, not Technology

 |  24 November 2021


We’ve all been there.


You have a problem that is driving you wild. The Kanban full of post-it notes that keep dropping to the floor just isn’t doing it for you anymore.


You decide it’s time to implement a new technology that does it better.


You scout around on Google looking at options and the reviews.


You select a platform, pop in your credit card and start using the new online Kanban board where the post-it’s stick well and now you can share your work plans with others. you can delegate tasks and report on progress. Exciting.


Except when you delegate the task it remains undone. When you send the report out it remains unread. Your Kanban remains the only one that’s on the platform.


The frustration builds. Why haven’t they started using this new tool? ‘It’s so much better’ you lament. Why are the tasks not getting done where before when you sent an email with the task it was completed.


This is the challenge of introducing new technology into the workplace. Whether it’s something as simple as a Kanban board for your team or complex like a new ERP (enterprise resource platform) to the entire organisation.


The truth that you need to accept in change is that the transformation only happens after the people decide to change.


Leading change is helping the people of the business make a choice to adapt, adopt and engage. 


We know that change only happens when the want (desire for change), the will (choice to change) and the way (the skills of change) are evident.


Understanding how and why people choose to change is key to good change management.


Unfortunately, many people are under the mistaken belief that good change management is all spreadsheets, plans and stakeholder maps. These are good resources that help the change management process. But they aren’t an indicator of great or even good change management.


Your change manager may produce the most beautiful and shiny spreadsheets and frameworks you’ll ever see. They may document plans that impress even the most critical project managers, but if they don’t understand people…. you’re in trouble. I’ve observed many people leading change who don’t understand how (nor how to manage) people respond to change in an emotional, psychological, philosophical and physiological way.


Without this understanding, your transformation may have good technical change management but a lack of people change management.

Without understanding the people part of the change you’ll have a lovely piece of tech that never gets used and a team of IT Project Managers who are frustrated that their efforts go unrewarded.


So what do we do differently?


We need to engage with and understand the want, the will and the way of change.


The want

The desire for change must be strong for people to change. This means that you, as the leader of the change, must understand the pain that the old way is causing for the individual, team or organisation, and also understand all the benefits that the new tech will provide to these groups – AND vice versa


Tip: if the pain of moving to the new way out weights the benefits, you’re staying put. The following matrix will help:

The will

Although you may be implementing corporate wide change. Actual change in behaviour happens at an individual level – or it doesn’t. Real change happens once the individual seeks a reason from within not without. The project manager can document and tell the individual all the awesomeness of the new tech. But the individual will ultimately choose to change or choose to stay the same.


Tip: if there is no will there is no way. Coaching skills are key to understanding and managing resistance.


The way

This step is simple but often implemented poorly when leading people through change. It’s simply making it easy for people to choose the change by providing the information, resources and skills, including the opportunity to practice those skills, that are needed for the change to occur. Change can occur when your change manager or project manager has good facilitation skills, coaching skills, instructional design skills, behaviour management, emotional intelligence skills and technical know-how.


Tip: a big fat user manual or training videos that sit on an intranet is not enough. The two-way dialogue will help here.


The next time you are about to pop your credit card into the new wiz-bang technology platform have a think about the want, the will and the way that you need to CHOOSE to purchase the item, and also think about the want, the will and the way that your people will need to CHOOSE to engage with the platform and new way of working.


Don’t stop evolving quickly. Just make sure your money in technology isn’t wasted on programs, manuals and platforms that sit in the shelf because you forgot about the people side of the change.


For more information on how to take your business to the next level click here!


Author: Michelle Holland

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