How To Lead In The Age Of Digital Disruption - TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 1. ... and limited demonstrable industry disruption to date, will have the furthest distance to travel on a digital

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 1EXPERT360.COM

    How To Lead In The Age Of Digital DisruptionPart 4: How do you lead a digital change program?Written by Malcolm Alder

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 1

    Have a clear, accessible project framework

    HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 1EXPERT360.COM

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 2HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 2EXPERT360.COM

    Deliver, measure and report in short cycles

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 3

    Put yourself in your staffs shoes

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 4EXPERT360.COM

    So far, this series has looked at why and how you start a digital journey and

    provided some tips on how to select the right business partners to support

    you. This fourth part goes to the heart of how to lead a digital program or

    project that involves internal change ie. all of them. It doesnt delve in to

    technology issues, nor does it prescribe particular methodologies such as

    Agile, LEAN, Six Sigma or Prince 2 for project management; there are more

    than enough sources of advice on these already.

    The focus here is on two things. Firstly, common leadership attributes of

    successful digital projects. Secondly, a deeper look at some aspects of

    change management that leaders should be mindful of in a digital context.

    Download part 3 here.

    The best way to build momentum is to demonstrate positive improvement.

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 5EXPERT360.COM

    Common attributes of successful projects

    Many of the aspects below are relevant to any major business project.

    However, because digital may be unfamiliar territory for some staff who are

    involved or impacted, it is particularly important that they be addressed to

    minimise the chances of misunderstanding or concern. From our experience,

    the following key areas should be included:

    Set the baseline the best way to build momentum is to demonstrate

    positive improvement and to do that, you need an unarguable reference

    point of where you started from

    A well articulated rationale for change you cant force cynics to agree

    but you must at least give them recognisable trends, data points and

    other evidence that justify the program

    A Future State vision and the benefits it will deliver whilst set

    primarily from the perspective of the company and its customers,

    if theres any significant change resistance, articulate a vision from the

    staff perspective e.g. this is how it will be better for you (see more on

    this below)

    A robust project Charter this should include all relevant elements

    eg. scope & objectives, governance, leadership, project plan, resources,

    timeline, KPIs etc. and should be readily accessible for any interested

    stakeholders

    Customer journey & experience mapping aside from being good

    practice and demanding a focus on your customers, this activity and

    output also provides a powerful lever for change; when the benefit to

    a customer is clear its very hard for anyone to argue against it

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 6EXPERT360.COM

    Short delivery & measurement cycles whether the program is

    delivering a technology-centric outcome eg. a new e-commerce

    platform, or a digital education program, modern practice is to manage

    on short cycles to demonstrate progress and minimise the chances of

    going off the rails

    Draft deliverables early & iterate whether its a working prototype,

    wire-frames or a report structure, generate a draft of final output as early

    as possible and then iterate continually. Many people can only really

    comprehend something when they can see a representation of it

    Demonstrable senior leadership tone comes from the top; be positive,

    dont scrimp on time commitments to the program and err on the side of

    over-communication

    Regular project communication with all parties this is particularly

    important if your staff generally have relatively low levels of starting

    digital understanding (see more on this below)

    Diligently identify, track & address risks arising self-evident; dont let

    things linger unaddressed

    Many people can only really comprehend something when they can see a representation of it.

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 7EXPERT360.COM

    Change management in digital programs

    If your organisation isnt a digital leader, it is quite likely there will be a proportion

    of your staff who are unsettled by significant change (whether real or perceived).

    Workforces with one or more attributes such as; relatively low technology skills,

    high average age, high average tenure and limited demonstrable industry

    disruption to date, will have the furthest distance to travel on a digital journey

    and may be most personally confronted by it.

    In such circumstances, in addition to being particularly diligent in executing

    the best practices of program management (many of which are listed above),

    pro-active change management is extremely important. If any more than a

    minimum number of affected staff react negatively to the changes they perceive,

    at best, widespread anxiety may divert attention and hence productivity dips or

    at worst, there will be outright opposition and attempts to white-ant the process.

    To minimise the likelihood of negative staff reactions, there are two more

    specific change management practices we recommend.

    Enjoin key influencers every organisation has certain individuals who

    are particularly influential through informal, social networks (that have

    no direct relationship with formal organisation structures or seniority).

    Identify who those people are and whether they are initially pro or anti

    the plans, use whatever is most effective with them personally to enjoin

    them to the process ideally to be an advocate, but if not, at least to

    minimise the likelihood that they will be an active opponent

    Put yourself in your staffs shoes the key things to bear in mind are

    that senior leaders inevitably have a higher level strategic understanding

    and perspective than most staff and secondly, that the leadership groups

    thinking, planning and personal rationalisation of impending changes

    inevitably runs well ahead of the rest of the staff as indicated by the

    graphic below

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 8EXPERT360.COM

    Startingstate

    Futurestate

    Createthe

    motivation

    Sharethe vision

    Providethe process

    Managetransition

    Sustainmomentum

    Leadership change journey

    Staff change journey

    A

    Aver

    age

    perc

    eptio

    n re

    lativ

    e to

    Sta

    rtin

    g St

    ate

    Time

    +ve

    -ve

    Figure 1. Typical change journey of leaders and staff

    Any digital change program moves from a Starting state to a Future state

    typically going through five stages as indicated above. When such change occurs,

    every impacted individual goes on their own personal, emotional journey.

    Some people will be instantly positive, thank goodness, I thought we would

    never do this, whilst others will be profoundly concerned, this will wipe out

    my job!

    In a digitally immature organisation, it would be prudent to anticipate that

    the average staff reaction may be negative in the first instant as shown by the

    broken black line above.

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 9EXPERT360.COM

    This contrasts with the experience of the senior leadership group who

    understand the strategic benefits to be realised so should have a positive view

    of the change from first to last. The second point to recognise is that program

    leaders, in addition to seeing the big picture very clearly, will be running well

    ahead of the majority of staff in their personal interpretation of the programs

    impact. As an example, point A on the graphic is the moment in time where

    there is the maximum gap between the perception of the change impact

    between leaders and staff. The leadership team may be running 2-3 months

    ahead of their staff on this journey.

    The key message here is that, when communicating, senior leadership must

    both cast their mind back, several months if necessary, to that stage in their

    own process of understanding the change and also demonstrate empathy

    for reasonable concerns all through the program but particularly during early

    announcements.

    Even with good program, change management and communication disciplines

    in place, any project of scale is likely to encounter challenges along the way,

    some of which will be controllable and others not. The next part in this series will

    identify some of the more common pitfalls that arise in digital projects together

    with mitigation strategies you can draw on to stay on track.

    About the Author: Malcolm AlderView profile on Expert360

    Malcolm is a Partner in Orchestrate, a strategy consulting business with a primary

    focus on helping organisations set and navigate their course through the rapidly

    maturing digital economy. He was formerly Partner for Digital Economy at KPMG

    for many years. Past clients include; Telstra, Macquarie, Woolworths, Optus, Crown,

    Federal Government, NBN, Australia Post, Alcatel-Lucent, State Governments of NSW,

    Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania. Malcolm has more than 30 years experience

    and has been a strategy consultant since the early 1990s. He is a qualified Chartered

    Accountant.

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  • HOW TO LEAD IN THE AGE OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION | 10EXPERT360.COM

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