Anyone who has worked on business transformation or change management projects knows just how challenging they can be. According to the Standish Group’s 2017 Chaos Report, nearly 1 in 5 projects fail and are cancelled. Of the rest, almost half of all major projects have challenges around budget, scope, or time to delivery, and only 1 in 3 are deemed to succeed.
Aligning stakeholders around a common, agreed vision is rarely straightforward – often with as many different views as there are individuals in the room. Even when these disparate views have been distilled into a single coherent vision, the uphill journey continues: there is the on-going challenge of ensuring that the communications and activities around delivering this vision remain clear and consistent up to implementation.
Another important aspect that is even more elusive and difficult to deliver is – how to ensure the sustainability of the changes made. Without embedding the changes into the organization’s ‘corporate DNA’ they are unlikely to stick – and people will revert to what they know best and feel most comfortable with.
Four Imperatives for Sustainable Change
In our experience with business transformation, we’ve found that in order to really and deeply institutionalize any changes, two conditions need to be met. The first relates to demonstrating to the stakeholders and the wider organization that the new changes in working practices, attitudes, and behaviors have led to improved results and performance. While the tendency may be to leave the results to speak for themselves, a better tactic would be to make the results clear and unambiguous.
The second is that the next generation of senior management will need to publicly endorse the changes being implemented and commit to their continued and on-going use. Otherwise, the risk of losing momentum remains, and a return to the old ways will quickly follow. The majority of change initiatives share some underlying common goals:
- Help build a sense of community between employees – develop or strengthen feelings of common purpose and belonging based on shared values in the organization.
- Empower staff to take the necessary actions required to fulfill their individual roles and responsibilities.
- Facilitate communication and encourage collaboration between colleagues, peers and managers. Timely and informed communication is the lifeblood of a dynamic organization.
- Enable quicker and better informed decision-making at all levels.
Case Study: A Mobile Solution Embedding Transformational Initiatives
How can a digital-first approach address these challenges and support embedding the new ways of working? The solution would support the four imperatives in a real-time fashion, while also tracking the efficiency of the interactions for fine-tuning and feedback.
This approach involves building a mobile device-based app supporting typical transformation objectives. Let’s look at the journey of new employee Robert at Company X – a workplace that has set goals to encourage and empower its employees, facilitate interaction, build communities and enable decision-making through a Collaborative Behavior approach.
Example #1: Employee orientation. On his first day at Company X, Robert finds instructions for installing and operating the mobile app. After downloading it to his smartphone, he receives a welcome message and an invitation to connect with his assigned buddy, David. Robert confirms, and David immediately receives the prompt and comes by Robert’s desk to show him around.
Example #2: Connecting with colleagues. Robert is about to start work on an operational excellence exercise in financial reporting when the app alerts him to an opportunity to connect with Sarah, who has worked in financial reporting for 5 years. After Robert confirms, Sarah receives a notification to connect, and she sends him a message offering to chat about her experience.
Example #3. Supervisor feedback. Robert’s line manager Christina observes Robert’s valuable contributions and constructive input at a departmental project workshop. She uses the app to formally recognize Robert for his communication and collaboration skills. Robert receives a push notification that he has been awarded a merit, and will need four more to progress to the next level.
This mobile app and its use-case examples are based on a product Wipro created for a client in the Oil and Gas industry to support changing ways of working. The business requirements were validated early in the development cycle and our agile approach enabled the production of a prototype and early feedback. Our mobile solution is known as the Collaborative Behavior Application (CBA).
The Benefits of a Digital-First Approach
Drawing on our business transformation and technology development expertise, we developed a solution design that can support any number of key behaviors or objectives at a departmental or organizational level – if these can be defined, then they can almost certainly be incorporated. Perhaps the most significant feature of the design is the ability of the app to provide metrics, both at team and individual level, with suggestions at the manager level as how to improve low scoring attributes. It is this feedback functionality that is so important to being able to measure and sustain required changes in work behaviors.
While this may seem unnecessarily complicated and expensive, with agile development techniques, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) can be created in a matter of weeks using commercially available software products. This can be developed in iterations as required. For our Oil and Gas client, a working MVP was successfully deployed within a month.
Sustainable Organizational Change is a Journey
Aside from any technology-related aspects, dealing with the human side of transformation is often an immense challenge in its own right. Used on its own, digital technology rarely provides the complete solution to any management problem, especially one involving business change.
The same is true with the Wipro collaborative behavior approach, but we now have a proven design that goes a long way to helping address a number of the key challenges of implementing sustainable organizational change. Using agile development methods, commercially available software and some innovative thinking, there are many potential solutions for organizational change that are quick and cost effective to develop and deploy.