Change Is Inevitable... Suffering Is Optional
In the ever-evolving landscape of digital transformation, have you found yourself wrestling with the complexities and challenges of this journey? Over the past few months, I've donned various hats in the digital transformation arena—serving as a Transformation Executive, Transformation Trainer, and Transformation Coach. These roles have led me to a not-so-secret, yet profoundly impactful revelation, one that I believe every CEO should embrace to ensure transformation success. In this article, I want to shed light on this revelation, emphasizing the critical importance of humanizing the digital transformation process.
Firstly, let's delve into the three unique perspectives through which I've encountered the impact of digital transformation. Interestingly, I often find myself wearing one, if not all, of these hats on any given day.
The Transformation Executive Perspective
As a Transformation Executive, I've navigated the turbulent waters of orchestrating complex digital transformation programs. Juggling diverse personalities, cultures, substantial budgets, and tight timelines is a recipe for triggering a whirlwind of emotions that any executive must contend with daily. One poignant observation stands out—everyone shares a common intention: Success. Maintaining this perspective, even during tumultuous times, has been pivotal in sustaining my commitment to the transformation journey and supporting my team as we shepherd these massive efforts. Suffering creeps in when I lose sight of this shared goal, getting mired in the quagmire of competing priorities, and feeling compelled to push my own agenda instead of guiding my colleagues toward a "win-win" solution, which often involves yielding immediate priorities for the greater good.
Big Takeaway #1: Embrace Change as an Ongoing Process
Change is a constant presence, not only in our professional work but also in the personal development required when undertaking initiatives of this magnitude. Recognizing the need for self-awareness and introspection allows us to identify our suffering and make subtle adjustments that steer us toward openness, curiosity, learning, and growth.
The Transformation Trainer Perspective
My role as a Transformation Trainer involves assisting government agencies and business accelerator programs in preparing Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) for their digital transformation journey. Listening to the stories of those who seek to support other companies on this transformative path is a humbling experience. Why? Because it reinforces the fact that numerous hurdles exist at all levels of organizational maturity. The stark reality is that people harbor fears—fears of failure, job loss, and the potential disruption of their livelihoods. This fear perpetuates suffering, trapping business owners and leaders in rigid thinking patterns that hinder innovation. Furthermore, it challenges their support partners, making it difficult for them to remain vigilant without wrestling with their own doubts about the journey's potential for failure or upheaval.
Big Takeaway #2: Prioritize the Human Element
Digital transformation isn't solely about businesses evolving; it's about human beings undergoing a transformational experience. Every transformation effort must prioritize the human aspect of change, placing it front and center. It should permeate every facet of the transformation process and be led by individuals equipped with coaching skills and change management tools. These skills and tools should remain within the organization, ensuring that sustainable change management success becomes an integral part of the organizational DNA, rather than vanishing when external consultants and experts depart.
The Power of Coaching in Transformation
In my world of podcasting, I often bring in coaches I've worked with in the past to help me overcome challenges in my own transformation journey. Coaching, while widely recognized as essential for leadership development, isn't always immediately associated with digital transformation initiatives. However, in my recent experiences as a coach and as a recipient of coaching, I've witnessed the remarkable power of coaching in removing obstacles for individuals and teams. Whether it's agile methodology coaches, conscious leadership coaches, performance coaches, or those focused on maintaining mental well-being, the impact on reducing suffering is palpable.
Big Takeaway #3: People Are the Heart of Digital Transformation
Investing in digital transformation isn't limited to technology, partners, or processes; it's fundamentally about the people. This investment should include coaching as an integral element. Period.
Now, let's circle back to the CEO, often at the forefront of leading transformation initiatives and advocating for crucial approvals, including budgets, from the Board. If you're a CEO reading this, understand that you're not alone in experiencing moments of suffering. In fact, it's entirely normal given the complexities of digital transformation. However, it's imperative to recognize the pivotal role you play in the success of your transformation initiative. People and their ability to adapt to change are the linchpin of any transformation. This includes both you and your direct reports. Perhaps it's time for an honest conversation within your team about the suffering they may be enduring and how best to prepare for the coming year by investing in change management, leadership development, and other forms of support for personal and organizational transformation.
Need guidance on your transformation journey? Let's start a conversation.
In this ever-evolving landscape of digital transformation, embracing the human element and focusing on the well-being and growth of individuals within your organization can be the secret to navigating the journey with success and resilience.