What makes the soft side so hard?
Why should you care?
Businesses and government organizations are facing rapidly changing environments and are faced with an ever increasing pace of change as a result of technology, environmental and economic shifts. Each year millions of dollars, Yen, Euro, Yuan etc. are invested in critical transformations and infrastructure changes for businesses and government organizations and yet the return on those investments seldom yields the desired results. You need to care because organizations are wasting time, money and resources without gaining the outcomes they desire.
Why does this happen?
Studies have shown that nearly 85% of these critical transformation projects fail. Businesses are inherently complex Socio-Technical Systems (see definition here in Wikipedia) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sociotechnical_system and any form of change has to be viewed via systems thinking methodologies. Systems thinking requires consideration of how people, processes and enabling technology interact to create value. As is often the case, if you only focus on the tasks to be performed or the technology tools used, then the human side of the equation suffers and the projects fail. The change process needed for the human (soft) side is perhaps the most difficult. As Peter Drucker once said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”
Is there a better way?
There are three things that will improve your transformation results.
- Go slow to go fast. This may sound odd but it is really about taking the time to ensure that the soft side and the hard side are aligned. Conditioning for the change is often the hard part especially if you do not understand the orders of change. If you get the soft side on board then resistance to change, organizational sabotage and other inhibitors will be diminished and you execute faster. On the hard side no amount of planning goes to waste. Let everyone know the expected results but do not force the process. Resistance will always slow the project down. Start slow, finish fast
- Take a systems approach. This is about transforming people, processes and technology. For every shift in one of those dimensions there needs to be a change to the other two. Never underestimate the depth of change required. If you have a well laid out Enterprise Architecture or component business map of the current state, it is much easier to map changes to the desired future state.
- Embrace the culture, don’t fight it. Dictate the results and desired outcomes and not the methods of getting there. Actively engage those affected by the change. The use of social media has created revolutions around the world. Use the right tools to socialize the change with your people and help create the revolution inside your organization. If you have the culture right, the end results will come faster, at less cost and with far better results.
How can ServTrans help with your transformation?
We are experts at understanding the socio-technical structures of organizations and how to innovate and transform them successfully. While we strongly believe that all strategy should develop from the customer lens, our methods and the key elements of successful strategic alignment remain the same regardless of your focus.
First, you need to understand general alignment around your strategy. You need to measure this alignment continuously along the path to change. Measure before, during and after the change process to ensure maximum results. We have tools to help you do this.
Second, you need to have the right leaders. Quite often change masters and masters of the status quo have very different skill sets. You also need leaders who are adaptable, able to collaborate and who can inspire others. Also, those running the business don’t have spare cycles to plan and execute large scale change. We can help with interim change masters and in building highly effective change teams.
Third, systems thinkers are needed at every level. These are people who are considered T-Shaped. They have depth of expertise in one or more domains but also have a breadth of experience and soft skills. We have the tools that will help determine the best team to execute against a given plan and to determine if they have the right set of experiences and type of personality needed to be successful.
We have the unique tools and expertise to measure and quantify your willingness and capability to successfully execute any form of transformation. Our experts have had direct hands on experience at making good things happen faster even in the most complex of environments. We give you the knowledge and tools to build the right competencies and structures for future projects.
Let ServTrans show you how to make the soft side a key strategic asset and accelerators of innovation and transformation.