“So what is the right team to mobilise to deliver a technology enabled business transformation then?” This was a question posed in an email I received shortly after my last contribution to the BVEX site. Just to be irritating I answered the question with a question of my own; “thanks for reading and posing the question but could you not use the comment feature on the site?!”. A critical part of the answer lies within the wording of the question, specifically “business transformation”. My starting point on mobilising any transformation initiative is to understand how the business will engage, how actively and to confirm that it has a clear view on the benefits to be obtained and how they will be measured.
Once I have those parameters defined then I can start to look at the skills balance the team needs to have to be successful. As we will all appreciate the enabling technology must be deployed effectively to provide a solid base before we can then drive the required organisational and/or individual behavioural changes to use it. However, I am extremely wary of having transformation programme leads that are fans of technology or even worse fanatics. My best results have been achieved when the programme lead views the technology as simply a tool and maintains a dispassionate perspective, much like most of us would regard the choice of different types of pen. They just need to understand the technology to a sufficient level to be able to lead those in the team for whom that is their specialist skill.
My primary focus for the transformation lead is to find someone able to communicate the vision underlying the intent and make the business change meaningful to those delivering, engaging or being impacted. Once you catch the imagination of people with the vision then they will commit and provide the persistence that is often needed to achieve success as there are always, repeat always, bumps in the road with any programme with a significant technological dimension.
Personalising the transformation and visibly living the values set is critical and in terms of business engagement, if you can have your CEO provide that role model then you have materially de-risked your programme. You want to build a cadre of committed individuals driving towards the desired outcomes and impact on the business. A key success factor that enables that peer group pressure is well defined measurement; tracking the right metrics both in terms of the delivery of the programme but also in terms of the business benefits derived as you embed the business change. Clearly there will be people that need a deal of persuasion within your programme team and the wider business. It is vital to have a strong focus on the organisational change key enablers as well as having strategies to handle the resisters, including those that are hidden or passive. I recently found an excellent exploration of this area by McKinsey entitled “Tapping The Power Of Hidden Influencers” which is well worth a read.
My key argument is that you absolutely need to mobilise a team that can deliver the enabling technology to scope, budget, deadline and quality. However, to derive the business benefits from that enabling technology you need more than “just” those qualities, you need a team equipped to drive the organisation and behavioural change skills by moving engagement into commitment and then into enactment. The tendency of technology enabled business transformation programmes to fail to deliver the business benefits, even when they succeed in delivering the technology dimension, highlights the multifaceted team that success requires. Even if you do mobilise the optimal multi skilled team you must have answered an even more fundamental question, are the leaders within that business environment are committed to the change and ready to lead from the front as compelling role models? So in short even before start thinking about the optimal skills mix and mobilise the team make sure you have verified that those commissioning the transformation understand clearly what the journey will entail and are able to holistically articulate the destination.
This article was first posted on the Business Value Exchange.
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