Photo by Aaron Burden

2016 has been quite a year. Any PESTLE analysis would paint a picture that contains more turmoil than most would have predicted 12 months ago. However, at Post*Shift, we have seen some glimmers of hope through better realisation from companies of their digital transformation needs and acknowledgement of what it will take to bridge their gaps. Rather than being championed by lone early adopters on the outside edges of organisations, senior stakeholders are now taking this seriously as a key component of their strategic goals. This is exciting. 

However, the many elements that combine to create a true transformation are broad, far-reaching and uncomfortable. Aside from the conversations about technology, there are also related structural, cultural, process and leadership aspects to be considered in order to make the change stick. This is where things can start to feel too big and overwhelming, and transformation efforts and investment often gets pared back to more tangible tech-focussed deliverables. This is foolish for many reasons, but not least because it assumes change can only be delivered as a top-down change programme. This is patently not true. The best examples we have seen of digital transformation efforts have run on a distributed change model, whereby teams and employees are empowered through clarity of purpose and goals, to enact many small change actions for their own teams. The combinatorial effect of many of these actions across an organisation is way more powerful and sustainable than any command and control approach.

Against this backdrop of change, complexity and unfamiliar territory the temptation is for teams and employees to stick to what they already know and ways of working that they are comfortable with. This is a natural human response to change, but, in order to harness the power of distributed change, it becomes even more important for team members to support each other in challenging the status quo. With that in mind, we have compiled 5 resolutions you can make as a team or as an individual to effect change during 2017. These are small actions that become more powerful the more teams that do them, so feel free to share them far and wide.

  1. Question Everything. One of the major reasons unnecessary bureaucracy and activity is able to run rampant in large organisations is complacency. Take back control by continually asking yourself whether what you are doing or being asked to do is adding value. If it isn’t, vote with your feet and stop doing it. Or, if that feels too contentious, then at least raise your concerns with fellow team members. How many people do you know in your organisation that sit in meetings that could have been replaced by a conversation or followed a process simply because it was there? It doesn’t have to be this way, and the more colleagues you can encourage to challenge non-value-add activity, the more it can be eliminated.
  2. Prioritise. Fast-moving market conditions and the proliferation of data can make it seem as though everything is urgent all the time. Companies that will succeed will be those that can cut through the noise and clearly prioritise activities. Make sure you and your team are clear on your goals at all times, and continually plan work regularly to align with these priorities using simple techniques such as the Eisenhower Matrix. If you are not clear on how your work aligns to priorities, make sure you ask!
  3. Welcome Feedback. The annual performance review cycle is dying, for good reason. The future for successful teams and individuals will be in the ability to embed real-time feedback in their ways of working in order to encourage continual learning and improvement. Even if your organisation still has a formal annual process, as a team or individual you can still encourage real-time feedback – simply by asking for it or offering it in the moment. This should also be applied not only to personal development of individuals, but also organising team tasks around feedback from wider stakeholders, users and customers. Consider using lightweight tech solutions to better embed into your workflow, through using chatbots or survey tools to automatically prompt you and your team.
  4. Build your network. The reality of how work gets done does not follow your org or gantt charts, it happens through the networks created in the spaces between. The more connected you are as an individual both internally and externally, the more you, your work and your organisation benefit. If your organisation has an ESN or collaboration tool, use it to share what you are working on and encourage others to do the same.
  5. Measure progress frequently. Self-awareness is the key to managing change, because knowing you have a problem is the first step to solving it. A fantastic way to start is by taking our free Quantified Org Diagnostic Test which measures progress across the key areas of digital transformation and provides recommendations to help you improve on in your key focus areas.

We hope these are helpful practical ideas for you to take forward into the new year. We wish all our followers a wonderful holiday season, and an awesome 2017.