Nothing changes if nothing changes

Moving to the cloud? Introducing Office365 or GSuite? Turning to Slack and Asana? Automating work? Starting with machine learning?

Today’s workplace is going through a major revolution, now also sped up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organisations that previously hadn’t offered remote working to their employees for example, found themselves thrown into it at great speed.

In fact, we see many companies that have been surprised at how well the imposed change has worked. And this is of course great to see.

However, real change and adoption, real transformation is not just about a great change plan; with software implementation, training and communication. All those things are important, but they are not enough and yet there is too much reliance on them being the catalysts for change and adoption. This is partly a budget question – not enough investment is put into the changing of people’s outlook and ways of collaborating, at a human level.

Nothing really changes if noting changes.

This may seem obvious, but at the same time, it’s often overlooked. Real transformation happens when people start to change HOW they do things, how they think, collaborate and contribute. And that can be expertly supported through great tools and techniques, but it’s not enough in itself.

Are you leading a transformation initiative or leading a team that is impacted by such an initiative? Then take a moment to reflect on what you need to do and how you need to think and be in order to make that transformation a reality.

  • Do you need to engage more with people?
  • Listen more?
  • Empathise more?
  • Create more opportunities for people to discuss, give input and feedback?
  • Actively look for opportunities in change?
  • Do you need to delegate more?
  • Collaborate more? Beyond your team even?
  • Build a sense of team spirit?

Whatever it is you are hoping others to do, start with yourself – be the change you want to see, show the way.

Because nothing change if nothing changes.

And everything changes when things change.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

George Bernard Shaw

Door 8: Never assume people know how your transformation will improve their lives.

Never assume people know how your transformation will improve their lives.

Tell them.

“Always remember, people want to be taken somewhere.”

‘What does my future, after this change, actually look like?’, they’ll ask themselves. A bridge to America. A shining house on a hill. Starbucks offered to inspire and nurture their customers one cup of coffee at a time. Mens Wearhouse offered ‘you’ll actually like the way you look’.

We’re going to offer a happy ending to our employees’ story. That ending should be specific and clear. Nobody gets excited by a muddled vision. The best stories and journeys are not vague, they are defined.

And, when communicating, say something that actually gets the juices flowing. JFK would have bored the world if he had promised a “highly efficient and productive space program”. Instead, he told the world “we are going to put a man on the moon”.

We must tell our employees an end vision we have for their new working lives, in keynotes, email blasts, and the rest. Images are also important, sell the future, fill the gap of uncertainty, and you’ll save yourself from a world of pain on your transformation journey.

Door 7: A Smarter Organization

Organizations become smarter when intelligence meets intelligence and is multiplied. Human and artificial. People working collaboratively together and embracing the potential of AI.

For example, if we can use machines to process and analyse large amounts of data, we can free up people’s time to engage with things like the creative thinking process (which humans are unbeatable at), in collaboration with other people.

We are getting the best of two worlds; we are making use of unique human and artificial strengths. We can be smarter together, creating more intelligent organisations.

Are you making the most of all the brainpower in your organisation? Human AND artificial?

Door 6: Why Digital Projects fail

As even the most robust of industries become digitally disrupted, creating a digital workplace where employees can collaborate and engage with new ways of working is now imperative to survival.

From immersing ourselves in digitally created tools to digitally enhancing our physical experience, micro-revolutions are changing the digital world every 12 to 18 months.

As the digital world engulfs us all, here are the top reasons digital projects fail according to IBM’s 2016 Making Change Work Study, (with 1500 organisations):

(a) Changing mindsets and attitudes, 58%

(b) Corporate culture, 49%

(c) Complexity is underestimated, 35%

(d) Shortage of resources, 33%

(e) Lack of commitment from higher management, 32%

As you go through digital change of your own, are your prioritising the soft stuff, the intangible, the mentality? Because the stats show, unequivocally, it’s the ‘soft stuff’ that renders the hard outcomes.

Door 5: What did you learn today?

What did you learn today?

The human need for continuous learning is greater than ever – and we think that’s a marvellous thing!

Not only does it remove any pressure of thinking we have to have all the answers (no one has all the answers), but it also means that we can welcome the opportunities for learning with curiosity and interest.

We can look for those opportunities, practice having a growth mindset, valuing the results we get and use them to create new solutions. At the end of each day or week, reflect on what you have learnt and how you will use that learning going forward.

What did you learn today?

Door 4: A Collaborative Culture

There are so many great collaboration tools available – everything from Teams, Slack, SharePoint, Zoom, Skype and more.

BUT a great tool doesn’t necessarily make the company culture collaborative, so if people don’t get on or haven’t agreed how to collaborate, explored their shared outcomes or want/choose to work together, the tools invested in will make very little difference.

So start by bringing teams together, figuring out how to work together, creating a TEAM CHARTER, which shapes a collaborative culture where the tools become the digital vehicle/enabler of teamwork.

Want to know more about how to create a collaborative team with a team charter?

Then we recommend reading multi-award winning “Leading Teams: 10 Challenges 10 Solutions” by Mandy Flint and Elisabet Vinberg Hearn

Door 3: Clarifying the BIG goal

Whatever transformation journey your organization is on, or are planning to set off on, don’t get tempted to jump to solutions too fast.

There are many exciting digital/AI solutions and tools out there, but they are not the goal in themselves, they are vehicles for the overall big goal – what we are trying to achieve. Maybe you want to set yourself up for fast growth through acquisitions, or you want to deliver better customer experience or something else.

Whatever it is, make sure everyone is very clear on that BIG goal and THEN start planning what that means with regards to investments into solutions, and a focus on culture, leadership and ways of working – so that you ensure you are ideally set up to achieve that goal. Strategically, intentionally and practically.

Door 2: The power of saying THANK YOU

Hot on the heels of Thanksgiving celebrations in places around the world, we are reminded how important it is to express thanks. It makes perfect sense that when we thank people for their effort, help, input etc we make them feel valued and more willing to help, get involved again, right?

And research supports this assumption too:

And getting people to want to collaborate more effectively can speed up any transformation we’re going through as an organization. Do you say thanks often enough?

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts 😀

Door 1: We live in a VUCA world

Door 1

We live in a VUCA world.

The term VUCA was coined by the US armed forces in the early 90’s as they observed a new type of warfare which had more Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity than experienced earlier. For organizations, the speed of change we experience all around the world, means that organizational change is becoming more VUCA too. So what can we do when facing VUCA?

Here are a few thoughts:

We need to identify and consistently share a clear Vision and direction – Where we are going. What we want to achieve. This gives purpose and focus that people can engage with.

We need to be curious and open-minded – listening to diverse views. Asking questions and having healthy debates to understand the bigger picture and complexity of all the pieces of the jigsaw. This allows for greater collaboration as well as innovation. It brings to mind one of the late Stephen Covey’s brilliant quotes: “Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply”

We need to build everyone’s ability to embrace the speed and VUCA of change, being able to act with agility, courageously daring to try and learning fast – creating a sense of collaboration and pride in the shared journey of continuous business transformation.

What are your thoughts? How do you lead in a VUCA world?

FeaturedReal Transformation or Boomerang Change?

Boomerang change is the kind of change that goes forwards and backwards, hesitating and never really transforming anything

Elisabet Vinberg Hearn

Everyone talks about transformation, but is it really transformation they are doing? Could it be that it’s “just” change?

Don’t get me wrong, change is sometimes enough, but the problem is that change often isn’t enough, or the efforts put into change are not impactful enough and therefore don’t really change anything other than what’s on the surface. People fall back into old habits – as habits die hard – we all know that.

Transformation, real transformation, is a marked, significant change, where the change is so thorough, so disruptive, so – well, yes, transforming – that it can’t go back to what it once was. A bit like how a butterfly can’t transform back into a caterpillar.

Real transformation requires more than a well managed project (to change processes, digital tools, organisational structure etc) – it requires a transformation of mindset, habits and culture. And that transformation must be led from the top, where leaders themselves transform how they lead the organisation, how they behave, what they prioritise, what actions and behaviours they ignite in others. Without it, it’s unlikely that transformation will happen.

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything

George Bernard Shaw

So, if you are serious about business/digital transformation, take a moment to reflect on how you can bring all the pieces of real transformation together – the WHY, the WHAT and the HOW, keeping in mind that real transformation is more about people than processes and tools. It’s about connecting with people, with their hearts and minds.

And maybe Einstein said it best…

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking  

Albert Einstein

Isn’t it time to leave Boomerang Change behind and go for Real Transformation?