We are currently in a dynamic new era of digital transformation. But have you ensured this change is sustainable, and that no one will be left behind?
Never mind that hazy future on the far horizon – you know by now that your organisation’s digital journey has already begun. Your business is living it at this very moment; a transformation accelerated by the pandemic, thrillingly fluid, limitless in potential but also racing towards an uncertain destination.
Are people engaged in the new processes and ways of working you have implemented? Is your transformation sustainable? Are you telling a compelling story about the need for this change, a story that unites colleagues, customers and communities behind a meaningful common purpose?
A recent McKinsey & Company study discovered that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation by seven years. Fifty-eight per cent of all customer interactions are now digital – an extraordinary rise from just 36 per cent in 2019. Well over half of products or services are either partially or fully digitised. More than 60 per cent of the study’s respondents believe that changes in consumer behaviour are here to stay; over half are convinced that remote and collaborative working represents a permanent shift in human resource patterns.
These digital transformations are already so integrated into our work and home lives that they have become second nature to us – from the powerful insights available via data analysis to the communication tools that make the transfer of knowledge and ideas effortless and instantaneous. It’s easy to assume everyone is comfortable with these changes: they were necessary, we have seen how well they function and they are now embedded in our lives. The world of work has embraced a crisis-centric, pandemic-driven resilience – a communal determination to weather this storm and make use of everything at our digital disposal to get through it together.
So what’s your north star as an organisation? Now the transformation has accelerated, are you as a leader listening to the voices of those who have resolutely adapted to huge changes to the structure of their lives, but who now crave a return to previous ways of working? As technology rapidly evolves, propelled by a decade of innovation compressed into less than two years, are you upskilling current employees and acquiring new capabilities to underpin future success? Are you supporting people to deal with change fatigue and ongoing uncertainty, and guarding your culture against apathy and resistance?
You can unite people at every level of an organisation with a clear and compelling story that sets out the future vision and journey you are on as a business – inspiring every colleague to play their part.
A story is a mechanism to connect people – a framework for a conversation, dialogue and decision-making. It is a tool for leaders to translate what the transformation journey means for people in their part of the business, putting it at the heart of all they do. A story can highlight opportunities for ongoing learning and capability-building for employees, creating cross-functional team communities that innovate and share and support one another.
Leaders must be authentic and visible role models, confidently championing the transformation story as an exciting opportunity for shared growth and success. This will increase understanding of the “why” behind the transformation and foster a new spirit of positivity, pride and hope.
After one of the UK’s largest banks made a technology-driven £2 billion investment to revolutionise its operations, it struggled to engage people in the journey. By creating an emotive story that connected people with the future vision, we delivered a story-driven programme which helped teams to understand their role in transforming customer service. During the programme, employee engagement increased by 20 per cent, and 97 per cent of employees believed they could make a difference to the future success of the business.
A story can be used to emphasise your commitment to clear communication channels and unlock the productive possibility of digital collaboration tools. The power of a co-created story is inclusive and uplifting, providing a platform to inspire people in an exhilarating age of digital transformation – one not to be feared, but welcomed and embraced, and which is capable of having a wide-reaching impact, both internally and externally, for customers, communities and stakeholders.
Never mind the future, the story of digital transformation for every organisation is well underway. You have the power to build belief, shift mindsets and accelerate this – what story will you be telling in your organisation?
The Storytellers are global leaders in transforming businesses through inspiring, impactful narrative methodology. They’ve worked with over 180 large organisations worldwide. Find out more at thestorytellers.com.
By Hannah Moyo, Head of Consulting UK, The Storytellers