Over the last two years, the title of Digital Transformation Specialist has become more and more prevalent. There are now C-Suite roles that encompass this activity and the impetus for Digital Transformation is increasing day by day. Despite the noise and the chatter, there is still a real hiatus in successful projects being declaimed from the media and social platforms.  Why is that? From my experience, it revolves around the need for emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence and the soft skills that are all too often hard to find.

How then do organisations actually get Digital Transformation done? Over the last few years, I have seen two distinct approaches: one that brings with it some success, the other not so much. The first approach offers an almost total focus on the planning and the delivery process, with little regard for the people required to deliver it, let alone engagement around their motives to deliver it. The second places the people at the heart of the planning and the process. The teams, therefore, have a level of commitment and pride to the quality of the output, thus impacting the efficiency and standard of deliverables.

The only real difference is the level with which the organisation allows their staff to influence, persuade and inspire on all things digital across all aspects of the organisation they touch.

“The major challenge for most companies is that digital is everyone and no-one’s responsibility.”

Cat Leaver, Project Director, Brand Scotland

What is interesting to me is that most of us get very little, if any, formal training on how to influence, persuade and inspire our colleagues, peer groups and indeed bosses. There are of course some unique characters that are naturals, who ooze charisma, who can “talk the legs off a donkey and then convince it to walk again” to quote the inestimable and sadly missed Douglas Adams. They are the exception rather than rule though.

Successful digital transformation projects are reliant upon a set of softer skills that are in some way native to us all, but that are stressed and stretched when it comes to day-to-day use, never mind in such a dynamic and fast-paced initiative as driving digital transformation across an organisation.

This is why After Digital has developed its IPI Development courses. They assist in the delivery of the digital roadmaps we create, by up-skilling those responsible for the delivery of the roadmap in the softer influence, persuade and inspire (IPI) skills they need to get the whole organisation moving in the right direction. The staff involved in delivering the roadmap usually have no command and control authority (such as a line manager) and they are often being asked to operate well beyond their area of authority. This means they need to affect change through their ability to get things done without instructing change directly.

I often talk about these “Digital Ambassadors” operating in the white space that surrounds the traditional operating models of most organisations. That white space is a “boss-less, authority vacuum" where only the influencers and persuaders make progress.

Digital transformation business model

Digital in 2016 touches pretty much every aspect of every type of organisation form sales and marketing to finance, admin, HR and operations. As my colleague Cat and I always discuss: It is everyone's responsibility but often no-one’s job. Herein lies every C-Suite’s challenge. They know they need to digitally transform, they know they need to do it now and do it quickly. They also know how to find out what to do - they hire in a company like After Digital to develop and deliver the roadmap, business case and organisational reports (something we’ve done many times, to great effect). Where the C-Suite then traditionally struggled is implementing it. That’s where the motivation to develop our courses came from. We saw this missing link cropping up repeatedly when working with businesses. Whilst we could provide guidance and outline activity, they needed that additional shift in mindset and culture to really push things through. So, leveraging my leadership development background, we came up with our I.P.I. courses, which aim to up-skill the team, challenging them through experiential learning and interactive workshops all driven by roadmap outcomes.

“Truly digitally-able organisations empower their people. Creating a collaborative workforce rather than siloed activity.”

Steve Plummer, Head of Strategic Consulting

If you are going to invest in the roadmap, commit to investing in up-skilling your people to be able to influence, persuade and inspire. That, aligned with the objectives of your roadmap, will have a much greater chance of success than if the roadmap and it’s attendant plan are deployed in isolation.

As we highlighted in one of our older blogs - digital is changing behaviours and expectations of all your stakeholders (audiences and staff members, partners and directors), meaning we need to look at the culture of our businesses and how we embrace this change for the positive. If we fail to do so, we will fail to drive true digital success.

Euan Semple digital transformation quote IPI courses

One of the overarching themes across the many conferences I've spoken at in recent weeks is the need to bring your team with you. To be inclusive in the planning, the ideation and the strategy creation. It is a welcome confirmation that the approach we have taken from the start to put the staff and the workforce at the centre of our process is now seen as central to delivering successful Digital Evolutions. My imminent appearance at The Digital Transformation Conference 2018 will cover this approach. I'm looking forward to pushing on my learning and gathering new insights from amazing speakers, brands and successful projects, as well as the lessons learned from the not so successful ones. If you're interested in coming along, or if you are already going to be at the conference, you can head onto their website to find out more about my 'Fireside chat' with Mel Murphy from the RAD. FIND OUT MORE AND BOOK TICKETS HERE.

Are you about to start your digital transformation journey? Or do you have any questions about how to implement the beginnings of a truly effective digital evolution? Give us a ring or drop us an email and we’ll happily talk you through the real difference that 'connected thinking' is making for our clients.

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