Steve Jones | 30 July 2018
Maybe like me you sometimes look around and think everyone seems to be doing it! For many of our clients today 'Digital Transformation' is the strategic way forward. With so much technology available to us at (literally) our fingertips, it seems that we are almost forced to embrace every possible means of doing things digitally, whether on-line, using software, an app, or sat in front of a screen, be it of the desktop, tablet or mobile variety.
But is transformational change best served by 'forcing' people down a particular route?
Why do we change? Yes, I guess that often it's because we are told to (even made to, to avoid punishment?), but equally we sometimes change the way we do things because we can see new and exciting possibilities. A 'better way' of doing things – maybe to be more efficient or more effective (or even both!).
Tiger Woods, despite being one of the most successful golfers of all time before injury and personal matters over took him, famously decided to change his golf swing believing it could be even better and bring him more success. It seemed very odd: his golf swing had served him VERY well to that point in time. It wasn't as if he'd 'lost it' – he was still being successful. No, he didn't have to change - he chose to, to seek improvement.
Programmes and Projects are structured approaches for bringing about change. Projects tend to focus primarily on the end products, the tangible deliverables you can see, as the output of lot of hard work and effort to create new processes, products, or systems designed to help deliver new capabilities and bring about the benefits an associated Programme are measuring.
BUT, many projects get wrapped up in the details of WHAT needs to be designed, created, developed and delivered and forget about what is also needed to help ensure the necessary changes resulting from these new things actually make a difference and 'land' successfully!
For example, in 2017 HM Treasury introduced the new one pound coin into circulation. The Royal Mint said the round pound had to go as there were around £45 million worth of fake coins in circulation. And yet, the new 12-sided pound coin caused chaos when it launched, as just a few months from launch in March, one in three had no idea there was even a new £1 on the block, whilst a raft of machines weren't ready to accept it. From parking meters and vending machines to locker rooms and kiddies rides, the nation was unprepared for the biggest currency change since the round pound replaced the £1 note 34 years earlier.
With just 28 days to go before the forge-proof new pound went into circulation, an estimated 100,000 street ticket machines and pay-and-display ones in public car parks were still waiting to be updated to take the lighter shape. And 200,000 drinks and snack machines in leisure centres, shopping malls, colleges and train stations missed the March 28 deadline to be able to accept the new coin. According to the British Parking Association (BPA), it was costing the industry an estimated £50 million to adapt or replace 400,000 payment machines.
How could this be? The project had a clear focus on fixing the problem it faced - £45 million worth of fake coins in circulation. The new coin was clearly well designed, and I'm sure many of the internal processes and production line requirements were modified and put in place to accommodate the production of the new coins within the Royal Mint itself. But, for the end users of the coin, like you and me, there appeared to be absolutely no consideration of HOW this 'change' would be received and accepted.
Was it within the scope of the project? Should it have been? Who knows? The press coverage certainly wasn't complimentary. Or maybe without us realising, it was actually all part of a bigger 'Digital Transformation' plan to 'force' us into paying for our parking on-line or via our phones?
Whatever it was, it's important to note that 'successful' change involves not just successfully creating new products or outputs (the new coin) but also considering what 'outcomes' are necessary to make the outputs as effective as possible. It often means seeking first to understand and then to be understood; putting yourself in the shoes of the person who will be receiving this new 'thing' and asking, "what else is needed to help make sure this will work effectively and be well received?" More often than not, this consideration will generate the need for more outputs (previously not thought of) to be delivered by the project to create those necessary outcomes.
Experienced change practitioners and consulting partners are on hand within QA Learning Consultancy to help your organisation consider and then identify the outcomes necessary to bring about successful change and then to make those changes stick.
If you are finding it difficult to 'land' effective change in your organisation, maybe in area like Digital Transformation, why not give us a call? We'd be happy to help you.
About QA Group
QA helps individuals and organisations achieve their potential through world-class Learning Strategy and Solutions. This includes: training and certification, innovative Talent Solutions that solve both business critical skills and capability gaps, Business Transformation solutions, enabling change and transformation through engagement and education of workforces, and Managed Learning Services. In addition, QA provides consultancy, apprenticeships and post graduate degrees on a range of technical, business and leadership subjects. With over 22 UK training centres – including Apprenticeships, Consulting and Cyber Academies – and a range of online learning options, QA offers an unparalleled set of learning solutions to both private and public sector organisations.