Digital Transformation

Series – Choosing the human levers to activate for successful digital transformation

21 September 2017

Series – Choosing the human levers to activate for successful digital transformation

The digital revolution is leading the established public and private leaders of our economy to reinvent their models. In this race for change, the accelerating pace of which can ultimately call a company’s survival into question, the challenge seems to be as much cultural as it is technological, to ensure not only that teams take ownership of change but also that they embody it at every level of the company. 

We are bringing you a series of five articles entitled Choosing the human levers to activate for successful digital transformation.

Human beings are of course central to your transformation. There is still time to draw the conclusions from this statement, as the digital revolution is only just beginning, in order to deploy initiatives suited to the speed and take-up issues at stake.

Which approaches should you adopt? In which key areas should you focus your efforts? Which resources should be deployed?

We want to share the following four convictions with you because they are, in our view, essential to the reinvention process:

  • Adopt the winning formulae of contemporary customer-centric B2C marketing. Designs, organisations and the continual integration of feedback prompted by customer experience-oriented approaches, better consideration of the various people on the receiving end of change (segmentation), storytelling that addresses quests for meaning, support for early adopters, community influencing, etc. All these ingredients are added to the mix not only to aid the management of change but also its design and then the observation of how it takes root, and its proven value. How do you ensure that all internal ecosystems are bought into, adopted and embedded? How do you promote desire and engagement on the part of employees? How do you boost the performance of a process by basing its design on the characteristics of the people involved, and not vice versa


  • Provide the resources for on-demand, omnichannel change to employees who play leading roles in their own transformations. This is the necessary counterpart to the increased sharing of internal responsibilities in response to the adaptation challenges faced by the collective but also by each employee during a period of VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity). It is vital if you are to support each employee’s “self-transformation”. It entails moving from a planned, mass-implementation approach to change management, imposed by its driver (top-down change), to a more “customer-oriented change” model of support in which the when and the how are far more individualised. How can you put in place the capacity to provide information and support when the individual user needs it, in packages suited to his or her profile, priorities and ecosystem? How can you reconcile the approaches needed for digital change (top-down, bottom-up and cross-adoption) with its omnichannel intricacies (tools, collaborations, story-telling, etc.)? How can you support intrapreneurs who drive their own change?


  • Cultivate the “viral mimicry” of digital approaches and practices. How can you individually inspire people to turn words into “digital deeds”, in particular by ensuring that best practices and appropriate approaches go viral to accelerate the spread of digital culture? Despite the need to achieve a degree of standardisation in some contexts (e.g. networks of shops), “practice hacking” should not be completely eradicated: employees might suggest unexpected and virtuous practices. It is then up to the drivers of change to capitalise on these practices within a community of shared principles (experiments on the right scales – Think Big, Act Small, Fail Fast and Learn Rapidly – and in accordance with directions of travel, priorities, values and customer promises). How can you achieve this while also allowing for multiple profiles and “new ways” initiatives? How can employees evolve to become intrapreneurs of transformation practices without risking spreading initiatives too thinly and diluting efforts?


  • Harness transformation speed by combining multiple timeframes. First, a given: big transformations take place over different human and operational timeframes. How can you reconcile the speed of technological and operational disruptions with the need to maintain operational excellence and ensure the mass adoption of cultural change? How can you reconcile the internal diversity of cultural changes with the many opportunities for sprints?

Digital change is disrupting ways of working, collaborating and managing. Management teams are experimenting by “loosening the apron strings” as they support spontaneous initiatives by employees who are relishing new intrapreneurial ventures. Tailored approaches, accelerations, embedding, the spread of compelling practices, etc.

Stay tuned for the first instalment in this series.

By Nicolas Petitjean, Practice Digital Change & HR Excellence

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