Managing Change in Digital Transformation: How to Build the Path of Least Resistance

Let’s say you’ve greenlighted the adoption of technology in your business, whether that’s implementing automation for certain processes or adopting an ecommerce platform. That’s great – it’s important, in fact, especially if it’s the way your customers prefer to shop and buy. It’s also critical in an era of labor shortages – when productivity is top of mind. 

To ensure your digital initiatives stick, they must come from an area of real need to ensure that you’re not building bigger gaps between what your customers need and what you provide. It’s about the way your customers want to buy (and how your team can facilitate the smoothest process in doing so). 

A project that requires people to change won’t come without resistance. After all, the only people who like change are babies with dirty diapers.  

Executives must get everyone in the organization truly on board or the impact you’re looking for won’t be realized. And today, when employees are experiencing pandemic burnout and just trying to get their jobs done, you face even more hurdles.  

Before you even begin, what are the change requirements that are needed to bring your digital-transformation strategy to life (and sustain it)?  

Engage your team. 

The guiding light through your change management journey should be: Participation creates commitment. If a higher-up comes down from his office and shares a new plan with his employees, details how it’s going to work and then walks away … that plan isn’t getting adopted (or it’s not getting adopted to the level that the organization is hoping for). 

Get your team engaged from the get-go.  

  • Provide opportunities for your employees to participate in the idea stage because these are the people the change affects.  
  • Get feedback from your frontline workers and sales reps. Ask how the transformation will affect their daily interaction with customers. Get them excited about the possibilities by clearly demonstrating and why the changes are happening.  
  • What are the benefits? Make sure your team understands how it makes their life easier.  

Contrary to popular belief, digital change is not about replacing sales reps. Automation of mundane tasks or greater insight into customers enables reps to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Executive leadership needs to clearly define a desired state that leverages where their target customers will be in several years and pinpoint how their sales team can use the technology to achieve this.  

>> Read more on how to improve employee engagement 

Have plan clarity.  

Once you’ve spent the time getting your team to buy into the need for change and commit to a vision, the next step is to create a plan and communicate it clearly.  

Some common steps include: 

  1. Identify overall project objectives. 
  1. Define what products/services the digital transformation project will deliver, including client requirements. 
  1. Identify elements that are key to project success. 
  1. Map out and assign project team roles. 
  1. Map out and document the implementation process. 
  1. Document available resources. 
  1. Develop cost analysis. 
  1. Create a project schedule. 
  1. Create a risk management plan. 
  1. Define quality management plans as well as how and what you will monitor. 

Remember, everything depends on your people. A leader’s job is to get people to want to do  
what is in the organization’s best interests.  

>> Learn more about building an investment roadmap for digital transformation 

Change is complex. 

It’s like raising a plate of food. If you raise one side of the plate too high or too quickly, everything falls off. You want to apply some pressure to employees to adopt the change and implement the technology – a little pressure can create more output – but you don’t want to apply too much pressure, or everything will just break down. 

Understand that digital transformation at any scale will be revolutionary for your employees, but it might look incremental from an outside perspective. Focus on the internal. As Peter Drucker, a management guru, said: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” If you don’t deal with the culture, nothing will happen.