Did you know that our resistance to change is biological? Change is stressful, and stress causes a series of reactions in your body that can put you on edge. It could be something as simple as switching to decaf coffee; at work, it’s likely something a bit more overarching such as productivity improvements. And these almost always come on the heels of a major process or technological change. To get past that initial resistance, you need to frame change positively and encourage a corporate culture that prizes innovation. When done successfully, change then becomes more of an organic process, an evolution vs. a revolution, and is much more easily absorbed.
Build a DNA of innovation
It’s no secret that some people feel burdened by today’s business climate. So employees who aren’t as tech-savvy may be discouraged by digital change that involves learning new systems. To compensate, you can take steps to make people feel like they are the innovators. Improve employee feedback mechanisms and encourage idea-sharing, which can empower employees during organizational change. By making employees feel like an integral part of an innovative culture, the dread of change may be replaced by anticipation for change.
Map your organization
However, before you can effect digital transformation, you need to understand how your organization works. Who are the key players? Who needs to agree before you can release a global update? If you know who and how to roll out a change before you start, you avoid a lot of the resistance. Communication is key for this to work. You need to bring all the parties affected by the change to the table when creating a change strategy. The more ownership and understanding you can bring to the organization, the more likely you are to enjoy a relatively frictionless implementation.
If you just give innovation lip service or announce it as a key strategy once, it won’t become an integrated part of your culture. To make a real culture change, you need to define innovation as more than just ideas. Innovation needs to be targeted and specific. Guide innovation with strategic questions. Don’t just ask for feedback. Ask for ways to improve customer service or open up new markets. By giving your staff goals to channel their innovation, you help create a culture that rewards new ideas without wasting time on minutiae.
Redefine metrics and incentives
Process maturity often determines how well something works in the real world. During a test run, a new process might dramatically outperform existing methods, but it will take time to reach those numbers consistently. As a new process surrounding technology ages, introduce new metrics for comparison. Reward team members who push innovation, even if the end result is not entirely positive. When you reward new ideas, you encourage your staff to go beyond criticism and into ideation to fix problems.
Change starts at the top
Executing a digital transformation requires leaders to open their minds and forgo the resistance that so commonly prevents meaningful change. When you communicate change objectives, include employees in the implementation, and encourage the exchange of ideas, you begin to bridge the gap between stagnancy and forward change. Change is scary, yet innovation is new and exciting. By changing the vocabulary surrounding change, communicating clearly, using change-specific metrics, and choosing clear targets for innovation, you can change perceptions and make innovation a cultural norm in your company. Now that sounds like a fun place to work!
Learn more about how process digitization enables your company to become what customers want you to be. See Unlock Your Digital Super Powers: How Digitization Helps Companies Be Live Businesses.