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  • Writer's pictureJeanette Peterson

Digital Transformation - Why It's time to get personal

We are now firmly living in the land of digital transformation, and there is no turning back. Organisations on masse, whether by choice or by pressure, are seeking to transform in some significant and costly ways. However, it would appear that we have forgotten the main ingredient, our people, which is pretty much like trying to bake bread without flour.

Transformation, no matter how you spin it, is an inside job. It’s not something you do to an organisation. There is a beautiful saying that many of us know but seem to forget to practice in business.

Be the change you want to see!

When you change, a ripple effect happens, which impacts all those around you, but someone has to go first. That someone is You!

So it would seem that digital transformations require a transformation in us all within the business, or else there is literally no transformation at all.

This may explain why digital transformations are going on everywhere and failing miserably. We seem to think technology is going to be the saviour of every dysfunctional and disjointed organisation everywhere.

It’s time to get personal!

If you are strategising, leading or participating in a digital transformation, you need to ask yourself some very important questions:-

  • Are you transforming personally?

  • Are you doing the heavy lifting by learning to work in new ways yourself?

  • Are you bravely stepping into uncharted territory through vulnerability?

  • Are your leaders leading with vision?

  • Do you understand the hidden capability of your people beyond their position description?

  • Are you creating a psychologically safe workplace where there is trust, transparency and open dialogue?

  • Are you working collaboratively with your people to build tomorrow's organisation today?

  • Does your strategy include building resilience in your people and fostering creativity?

  • Does your organisation empower people below the executive leadership team to lead strategic decision-making processes?

If you can't answer yes to all these questions, your transformation is more likely to fail than succeed. These are the hard and fast facts of today's digital transformation marketplace. We are failing, and we are not learning why. We are simply rinsing and repeating the same outdated ways of working.

Why? Because the alarming fact is that most of us have no idea where we are going. Most are playing the dangerous game of either, blind digital catchup, or rushing to get ahead of our competition. These pathways are crushing our people, who are the most important ingredient to digital transformation success.

How can we change this?

Firstly, we need to grow our organisations to be resilient, transparent and led by visionary leaders who empower and amplify their people, instead of diminishing them. The current outdated hierarchical models are running downhill when they should be building uphill, which is literally mowing down the people all the way to the bottom.

Our outdated organisational structures do not foster creativity, they foster doing as you are directed. Therefore, we don't hold on to the creative people in our businesses, because we don't listen to them, so they leave. Then to make matters worse, we rise through the ranks to managers, people who get things done, instead of creative people, who are desperately needed in strategic digital transformations.

Why do I know this, you might be thinking. I am a natural strategic visionary who is highly creative. I, like many other creative professionals, struggled to be heard and found myself leaving the full-time employment space to consult, to allow me to be more creative. The funniest thing is businesses now hire people like me because they value our creativity. With this in mind, you can likely now imagine the frustration of the creative people that could be within your organisation right now. Whilst people like me were within your organisations, we were hidden superpowers, left dormant, that you didn't make the most of.

Digital transformation is not the saving grace. Your people are. When you learn to put your people first, they find the right digital solutions relevant to the business needs because they know them first-hand. There are frustrated creative people within your organisation, just like superpowers waiting to be tapped on the shoulder.

Get out of the boardroom and into the hearts of your people. They will thank you for it, and in turn, you will thank them for building your business with you, instead of for you.

The social revolution is demanding this of us all. If you fail to see the signs, your business will fall, that is if it isn't already on its knees. The most alarming problem of all is that you are most likely already on the downhill trajectory, wearing a blindfold. A digital transformation, undertaken without a solid foundation, is simply the high-speed engine that takes you to the bottom faster.

There are creative people in your organisation who already know this and know a better way forward. Seek them out, listen to them and build a solid strategy together from the bottom up, not the top down, before it is too late.

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