-In this weeks 3@3 conversation, we speak with John Hatfield from Second City Communications.
John joins us in week number 15 of the series, to give us his take on the following hot topic questions:
In a fantastically relatable comparison, John illustrates how business transformation projects can be compared to the act of moving home when you were a child. This experience usually comes with shock-horror, fear, uncertainty and doubt for the child, which is of course not a good place to start off from.
Many transformation projects start off from the point of view of "We are going to change you", "This is something that is going to happen to you!". So the big lesson to learn here, is don't do things to people, do things with them. If this is the case when moving home, that experience can happen so much smoother, whilst drastically reducing the negative impact that surrounds the experience.
A key phrase to remember here is: "We would like to do this with you". It's not for you, which is patronising, or to you which is enforcing, it's together which allows for cooperation and mutual benefit.
In what is a very enjoyable 26 minute long conversation, John continues to share his wealth of knowledge and advice on the subject, making this 3@3 week, one not to be missed.
Watch the full conversation below:
What did we get right and what did we get wrong in our chat about IT's role in Digital Transformation projects - CIO Keith Laidlaw joins the debate.
IT is part of the team and is an essential part of the strategic leadership team along with operations, change management and HR. Keith suggested that years ago IT was considered a citadel department, too busy with other IT related projects to spearhead any organisational change programmes. Over time organisations developed 'IT islands', external to the IT department, which they invariably knew nothing about, which was fine to an extent, however, IT islands affected the holistic nature of the organisations IT systems. Suddenly marketing systems couldn't talk to sales, sales systems couldn't talk to finance, the island effect had created technology 'silos'. Had IT been involved in these change decisions, they would have had a more holistic view of the technology.
To Keith, digital transformation is ultimately about the decentralising of skills. Global teams can now collaborate effectively no matter where they are in the world. Keith argues that digital transformation also supports BAU and business continuity. Using the examples of call centres, Keith argues that with the right technology and metric's in place, productivity can continue at the same rate no matter if an employee is in the call centre or taking calls from their front room.
The questions we are now facing are around education and professional or medical consults, can these be effectively delivered through digitisation? The enablement for all of this is communication infrastructure. Keith suggests that in this regard, we are already there. With approximately 99% of the UK having access to 'fast fibre' with download rates of 50-60 megabytes, speeds which 5 years ago were the preserve of offices only. Now, these ability services are in people homes, individuals can do everything online from home which they used to have to do in the office. IT has to be reactive also and be able to quickly investigate business requirements and this can sometimes be difficult.
Keith suggests that the old IT model has changed, the last decade has seen a move to a RAD approach (Rapid-application development), an adaptive software development approach, which allows packets of development to be released incrementally, every 2 weeks. This approach allows for development to happen piecemeal. Keith argues that while organisations may not know exactly what they want end to end, they often know what they want to happen first. IT is no longer perceived as inhibitor or blocker to change, the new mode of working allows the organisation to test their ideas and help inform the end to end strategy through rapid testing and deployment.
Watch the rest of this discussion.
'In this week's webinar Al and Steve discuss the role of skills development in the successful delivery of transformational road-map.
Al talks about his own eclectic learning journey that incorporated further, higher, mature, online learning and everything in between.
Having experienced the full spectrum of learning pedagogy's, Al suggests that the most important aspect of up-skilling is to find a learning approach that works for your circumstances and your preferred style of learning.
Whatever the approach it's important to implement that learning in the real world and turn the skills you learned into knowledge. Most crucial, however, is developing the mindset of a life long learner and being cognitive that through this 4th wave of industrialisation, even those considered to be experts' in their fields will require continuous learning throughout their careers to maintain their depth of knowledge on a subject.
This isn't new of course, plenty of professions require continuous up-skilling, nursing being one of them. However, the rate of technological advancement is at a pace previously unseen, and it is now incumbent on individuals as well as businesses to prepare for this change if they hope to benefit in the future. Ultimately, getting started is the most important part. You won't really know what you don't know until you start.
Steve and Al talk about World Economic Forum predictions, which suggests that 65% of jobs in the next decade currently don't exist and asks, do we know what the key skills for the future look like?
While 'coding' could be a valuable skill to drive your kids towards, in our future driven by automation and AI. Coding is also something that computers with the help of AI, will get better at themselves and the real 'future skills' lie in your adaptability and other 'soft' or rather 'fundamental skill' attainment.
Our training programmes are built on a foundation of industry need and the resounding response from 'industry' is that job skills can be taught but they can't teach the fundamental skills and this message from industry mirrors the finding by the WEF. Soft skills are no longer an accurate name for this collection of interpersonal skills and these skills are now considered a fundamental requirement.
Watch the rest of this discussion were we ask:
What are the key skills required for future-proofing?
What is the best way to support skills development?
Within digital evolution projects, do the IT team lead or support? This issue (not surprisingly) comes up a lot. However, given the core driver for all these conversations are around people, their employees, clients, stakeholders etc, the process is ultimately a people-first approach rather than technology first. IT (of course) has its place at the table as evolution programmes are discussed and planned, due to their inherent knowledge about the business and current systems therein. IT departments understand how these systems currently work and how they can be developed and used to greater effect. Digital evolution projects run parallel with BAU activities and the BAU environment is a core part of that evolution discussion, as it is ultimately about improving on what you currently do.
IT departments hold a lot of knowledge and insights which should be included in transformation programme discussions, however, it is important to remember that IT departments will also have developed their own departmental road-maps surrounding their department's offering within the business and technology infrastructure. They may bring with them a technology first bias. While Steve suggests that there are opportunities to merge evolution projects (IT and the rest of the business), the imperative should always be to address the organisation and end-consumer needs.
Great transformation programmes require a partnership mindset, with input from across the business with sales and marketing often being the custodians of road-map, as they tend to own those client relationships and understand the pain points and opportunities. When asked about what makes the ideal mix of departmental disciplines, Steve suggests that from an organisational perspective, we need to break down the silo thinking within and that the three C's, (Culture, Collaboration and Coalition) are central to the success of digital evolution project development and the delivery of a truly, transformational road-map.
Watch the rest of this discussion below:
In our Three@Three web series this week, Al and Steve are joined by Kerry Freeman, the owner of Free Human. Kerry is an expert in FS culture change. Today we are discussing the 3 factors for success in delivering a change road-map.
Al kicks off by asking, what does a healthy culture look like. Kerry suggests that it's important to recognise that there is no one 'cookie-cutter' answer to the question of what makes a great culture. However, Kerry's favourite definition comes from Carolyn Taylor's 'Walking the Talk'.
Carolyn writes 'Culture, is the patterns of behaviour that are encouraged, discouraged and tolerated by people in systems over time.' Kerry suggests that culture is the personality of the organisation and like human personalities, no one is the same. Organisational culture is based on what the organisation has been through in the past, where they currently are and where they aspire to be.
While there is no one size fits all approach to culture, we can identify aspects that can help make the culture and organisation healthier and healthy organisations tend to be more successful.
Key aspects of a healthy culture:
Action + reflection means organisations can grow and encourage experimentation, which is itself a sign of a healthy organisational culture.
Attaining that ideal organisational culture can be difficult to achieve, the same things that hamper an individuals progress, can be the same things that hold an organisation back. Kerry states that as humans, we are built to be resistant to change and organisations are the same.
Kerry suggests concentrating on 1 thing at a time, as multi-tasking change in organisations does not work. You build a healthy culture, step by step and consistency and diligently until it becomes your organisation's pattern. Perfect doesn't exist when it comes to culture.
Steve asks Kerry, where does the culture start from and how do you go about changing that environment to embrace change. Kerry suggests that the leadership team has a huge influence on this, their individual authenticity and their strategy, have a huge influence and argues that there has got to be a compelling narrative for change. One that reflects where the organisation has come from and the teachings of the past otherwise you run the risk of alienating great swathes of your people. If people don't believe the 'noises' coming from the senior team, if it's not authentic and people don't believe it, it won't change a thing.
We ask how can experimentation facilitate that change and help move a culture within an organisation? Kerry suggests avoiding the 'from-too' approach. Instead identify all of your patterns of behaviour that you reinforce, what are your common patterns?
With experimentation, you are looking at your common patterns, either to disrupts unhealthy patterns or reinforce 'virtuous' and desirable ones. Experimentation can take the pressure off, it is not about the right and the wrong, it's about the journey. and requires a lot of observation and reflection. Steve suggests that the drive for organisations to 'get stuff done' (GSD) can interfere with that important observation and reflection piece and because of the 'GSD' mindset, organisations don't feel like they have the time to experiment. Steve suggests that rather than being wasteful, the reflection piece is incredibly important.
Kerry suggests that when you are planning an experiment, you need to let go of your expectations on what is right and wrong and keep your options open. As well as managing your experiment and consider the learning experience, to get the most useful data out of the experiment. The first step is noticing the patterns, which is the most powerful aspect of culture change programs. By identifying and writing down a cultural pattern, you take the power out of that pattern, purely by observing it. Start small with something safe and something that you can easily observe.
Watch the full video here
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