A customer asked me recently...

Digital Transformation: Creating a social collaboration platform, leadership rules and an agile management-of-change process.

I would like to offer the following observation: While there is prevailing consensus about the big IT trends (social, mobility etc.), most reports are based on a purely technology-related point of view. Most authors and analysts are concerned with the question of which technologies will emerge in the future. But they do not reflect on how these technologies can be used effectively.  And that leads us to our response to the question posed by the leader of an organization: the main success factor consists of the massive communication-based management of the change that is supposed to lead to the collaboration - introductions or changes will not be successful without professional change management. It is similar to politics: the ability to identify the right contents is one thing, but success is defined by something else - the right communication and distribution of contents to the various target groups in the company. This is reflected in the results of a study conducted by Campana & Schott in 2014: while over 80% of the more than 200 participants rated the usefulness of work areas (work spaces/team rooms) as very high, only 15% of those surveyed rated the usefulness of the company's internal social networks and newsfeeds as very high.  The result: if something is not perceived as useful, it will not be used!

What about companies that successfully introduced a social collaboration platform - how did they do it? During the first phase, they establish an (emotional) willingness to change and create the organizational conditions (including a top-quality project team, defined multipliers and defined stakeholders). We advise our customers to develop a separate change story that provides all participants with a tool to consistently lay out why the change is required, what it means and what it will bring. During the next phase, the actual transformation period, many companies are concerned with the technical tasks of provision and roll-out. Particularly during this phase it is very important that the changes are always accompanied by communication measures. A mix of the following measures has been very effective in our experience:

  • Train-the-Trainer training sessions; followed by continuous coaching of the trainers
  • Coach key users from the beginning, ideally starting at the top management level
  • Guidance for key users: what functions are the "early adopters" supposed to work with, and in which cases?
  • Supporting measures, such as a separate home page, newsletter, webcast, FAQ or Wiki
  • Obtain feedback, adjust use concepts, documents and training
  • Pro-actively communicate adjustments or required changes (or a change in course)

A stabilization phase at the end ensures the long-term establishment of the social collaboration platform.  In this context, changes in behavior that have been achieved (or not) are measured, and adjusted if required. Finally, the success stories are communicated within the company.

By the way, together with the organizational leader of the DAX company we agreed that conventional "classroom" training would mostly be omitted. Instead, there are "desk visits", hence visits to the user's workstation, and working together on concrete use cases using the new technical options. But most of all, the new social collaboration platform is immediately used for the project to comment on, add, share and distribute contents. Non-accepted or non-used elements area already turned off during the first phase. One could almost use the phrase "agile management of change"....