Category Archives: Digital Transformation

People Drive the World-Technology as a Co-Pilot via Center of Human Compassion

People Drive the World-Technology as a Co-Pilot via Center of Human Compassion

GUEST POST from Teresa Spangler

People at the Center – Technology as a Co-Pilot

Are people at the center of your innovation and new product plans? Have we made people the center of all things digital? Are human’s and our environment the center of the new world entering the 4th Industrial Revolution? When innovation is during groundbreaking disruptive inventions or whether innovation is iterating into new products… what is placed at the center of your strategies? What are the reasons for these new inventions?

So much is at stake, as the world turns to being driven by AI, humanoids, rockets’ red glare searching for new lands to inhabit, games and more games feeding our brains with virtual excitement and stimulation, devices galore on our bodies, in our hands, in our homes helping us navigate our every move and in many ways directing us on how to think. The acceleration of digital permeating our lives is mind boggling. The news we are fed, seemingly unbiased, the product advertisements that sneak into our feeds, the connections via too many social and work-related networks that appear all too promising and friendly too is overwhelming. Technology is encompassing our lives!

The Power of Technology

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology for all the positive it contributes to the world. Technology is allowing individuals to create! To create and earn! To take control of their lives and build meaningful endeavors. The creation of TIME and SPACE to live how we to live has been a major outcome of

1. technology but also 2. the pandemic.

Let’s explore the creator economy which has experienced an explosion of late. As referenced in the Forbes articleThe Biggest Trends For 2022 In Creator Economy And Web3, by Maren Thomas Bannon, Today, the total size of the creator economy is estimated to be over $100 billion and 50 million people worldwide consider themselves creators. Creators will continue to bulge out of the global fabric as individuals seek to augment their incomes or escape the confines or rigged corporate cultures. Technology is enabling creators no doubt!

Technology is also allowing forward acting organizations to scale growth at unprecedented speeds. Let’s look at a recent survey conducted by Accenture

Curious about the effects of the pandemic, we completed a second round of research in early 2021 and discovered the following:

  1. Technology Leaders have moved even further ahead of the pack and have been growing at 5x the rate of Laggards on average in the past three years.
  2. Among the “Others” there is a group of organizations—18% of the entire sample—that has been able to break previous performance barriers—the Leapfroggers.

Let’s look at a recent survey conducted by Accenture

Curious about the effects of the pandemic, we completed a second round of research in early 2021 and discovered the following:

  1. Technology Leaders have moved even further ahead of the pack and have been growing at 5x the rate of Laggards on average in the past three years.
  2. Among the “Others” there is a group of organizations—18% of the entire sample—that has been able to break previous performance barriers—the Leapfroggers.

Of course, so much technology is doing good things for the world. 3-D printing is emerging at the center of homelessness. As reported in the #NYTIMES, this tiny village in Mexico is housing homeless people. The homes were built using an oversized 3-D printer.

Another example positive outcomes of technology is the emergence of over-the-counter hearing devices. Fortune Business Insights estimates the global hearing aids market is projected to grow from $6.67 billion in 2021 to $11.02 billion by 2028 at a CAGR of 7.4% in forecast period, 2021-2028.

These devices, until this year, were regulated to being sold by medical professionals at, for the majority of population in need, very high prices $2000 to $5000+ per hearing aid. Yes typically you need two. But recent innovations in ear buds and bluetooth are allowing other technology companies into the game! Take Bose for example, the FDA recently approved Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids to be purchased on their website for $895/pair. No need for a hearing professional. This significantly changes the playing field and opens the doors for so many that have put off purchases (of these not covered by insurance by the way) devices.

Entertainment & leisure travel is going to a whole new level with the help of technology. It’s wonderful that anyone with connectivity and travel the world and explore via Virtual Reality. Here are 52 places you can explore in the comfort of your home shared by NY Times. Many of us attended conferences and events over the past two years virtually. We’ll see an exponential growth in virtual reality experiences in the coming year.

So why am I talking about creating a Center for Human Compassion if so much good is really coming out of technology? Because many of the outcomes are also unrealized and not anticipated or at least publicized to prepare people. It is essential for companies, technologists, and product teams to consider the consequences of new technologies. Not as an afterthought but at the forethought, from inception of ideas we must ask what are the downsides? How will people be affected? What could happen?

The quote below is taken from the World Economic Forum report, Positive AI Economic Futures

machines will be able to do most tasks better than humans. Given these sorts of predictions, it is important to think about the possible consequences of AI for the future of work and to prepare for different scenarios. Continued progress in these technologies could have disruptive effects: from further exacerbating recent trends in inequality to denying more and more people their sense of purpose and fulfillment in life, given that work is much more than just a source of income.

WeForum brings 150 thought leaders together to share thoughts on how we create an AI world we want. For all of AI’s good, there are potentials for negative outcomes.

Let’s take the military’s fight again hobbyists and drones. In the recent article from WSJ, The Military’s New Challenge: Defeating Cheap Hobbyist Drones, how much energy was placed on Human Compassion if drone technologies, IoT and AI got in the wrong hands?

The U.S. is racing to combat an ostensibly modest foe: hobbyist drones that cost a few hundred dollars and can be rigged with explosives. @WSJ

I feel certain there was some consideration but not enough to draw out possible negative impacts and how to mitigate them before they could even start. Did we really put people at the center of what is possible with drone technologies? What do you think?

This is no easy task. We know what is good for us can turn to bad for us when in the wrong hands, or if it’s not moderated to healthy limits. How do we help facilitate a more compassionate relationship with technology and put people at the center?

Here are four strategies to ensure you are keeping people at the center of your innovation, new products and technology development efforts.

  1. Create a Center of Human Compassion, or People Centered Technology Consortium, or what ever you wish to brand your initiative. Select trusted advisors from external (customers, partners…) and a select group of internal stake holders to join your collaborative to gather input, feedback and push back!
  2. Discuss with your trusted group very early on. Gamify initiatives around gathering what ifs! Anticipating the worst you will plan better for the best! (leaving the hope out)
  3. Build a continuous feedback loop. It is important that insights and scenarios are revisited and rehashed over and over again.
  4. Join other consortiums and get involved with AI and tech for good initiatives. If you can’t find ones you feel are of value to you and your company, start one!

Mantra for the year: #lucky2022 but not without work and placing people front and center of plans will good fortune and luck come for the masses.

As always, reach out if you have ideas you’d like to share or questions you’d like to discuss!

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Reaching Beyond the Limits of Innovation and Transformation

Reaching Beyond the Limits of Innovation and TransformationRecently on Episode #873 of the Marketer of the Day podcast, I had the opportunity to sit down with Robert Plank, have a great conversation, and chat about a number of different topics. Here is a quick excerpt:

“When it comes to innovation, timing is a huge factor. Going in too soon or too late can both cost you lots of money. Innovation isn’t all about creativity and value-creation, it is also about the services that you provide around your new idea and helping people understand how your idea can be of value to their lives. But how can we know if our innovative ideas can really affect people’s lives?”


Click the play button to listen to the podcast right here, right now:

Here is Robert Plank in his own words describing what the Marketer of the Day podcast is all about:

The Marketer of the Day Podcast interviews entrepreneurs who have been through “the struggle.”

They’ve experienced the headaches of repeat failure, trial-and-error, scaling, delegating, course-correcting, and getting their online businesses to succeed beyond their wildest dreams… and want to help you get to where you need to go.

Or visit Robert’s site here for additional information and all of the ways to subscribe to his podcast:

https://www.robertplank.com/873-innovation-change-customer-braden-kelley/

Four Lessons Learned from the Digital Revolution

Four Lessons Learned from the Digital Revolution

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

When Steve Jobs was trying to lure John Sculley from Pepsi to Apple in 1982, he asked him, “Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life, or do you want to come with me and change the world?” The ploy worked and Sculley became the first major CEO of a conventional company to join a hot Silicon Valley startup.

It seems so quaint today, in the midst of a global pandemic, that a young entrepreneur selling what was essentially a glorified word processor thought he was changing the world. The truth is that the digital revolution, despite all the hype, has been something of a disappointment. Certainly it failed to usher in the “new economy” that many expected.

Yet what is also becoming clear is that the shortcomings have less to do with the technology itself, in fact the Covid-19 crisis has shown just how amazingly useful digital technology can be, than with ourselves. We expected technology and markets to do all the work for us. Today, as we embark on a new era of innovation, we need to reflect on what we have learned.

1. We Live In a World of Atoms, Not Bits

In 1996, as the dotcom boom was heating up, the economist W. Brian Arthur published an article in Harvard Business Review that signaled a massive shift in how we view the economy. While traditionally markets are made up of firms that faced diminishing returns, Arthur explained that information-based businesses can enjoy increasing returns.

More specifically, Arthur spelled out that if a business had high up-front costs, network effects and the ability to lock in customers it could enjoy increasing returns. That, in turn, would mean that information-based businesses would compete in winner-take-all markets, management would need to become less hierarchical and that investing heavily to win market share early could become a winning strategy.

Arthur’s article was, in many ways, prescient and before long investors were committing enormous amounts of money to companies without real businesses in the hopes that just a few of these bets would hit it big. In 2011, Marc Andreesen predicted that software would eat the world.

He was wrong. As the recent debacle at WeWork, as well as massive devaluations at firms like Uber, Lyft, and Peloton, shows that there is a limit to increasing returns for the simple reason that we live in a world of atoms, not bits. Even today, information and communication technologies make up only 6% of GDP in OECD countries. Obviously, most of our fate rests with the other 94%.

The Covid-19 crisis bears this out. Sure, being able to binge watch on Netflix and attend meetings on Zoom is enormously helpful, but to solve the crisis we need a vaccine. To do that, digital technology isn’t enough. We need to combine it with synthetic biology to make a real world impact.

2. Businesses Do Not Self Regulate

The case Steve Jobs made to John Sculley was predicated on the assumption that digital technology was fundamentally different from the sugar-water sellers of the world. The Silicon Valley ethos (or conceit as the case may be), was that while traditional businesses were motivated purely by greed, technology businesses answered to a higher calling.

This was no accident. As Arthur pointed out in his 1996 article, while atom-based businesses thrived on predictability and control, knowledge-based businesses facing winner-take-all markets are constantly in search of the “next big thing.” So teams that could operate like mission-oriented “commando units” on a holy quest would have a competitive advantage.

Companies like Google who vowed to not “be evil,” could attract exactly the type of technology “commandos” that Arthur described. They would, as Mark Zuckerberg has put it, “move fast and break things,” but would also be more likely to hit on that unpredictable piece of code that would lead to massively increasing returns.

Unfortunately, as we have seen, businesses do not self-regulate. Knowledge-based businesses like Google and Facebook have proven to be every bit as greedy as their atom-based brethren. Privacy legislation, such as GDPR, is a good first step, but we will need far more than that, especially as we move into post-digital technologies that are far more powerful.

Still, we’re not powerless. Consider the work of Stop Hate For Profit, a broad coalition that includes the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP, which has led to an advertiser boycott of Facebook. We can demand that corporations behave how we want them to, not just what the market will bear.

3. As Our Technology Becomes More Powerful, Ethics Matter More Than Ever

Over the past several years some of the sense of wonder and possibility surrounding digital technology gave way to no small amount of fear and loathing. Scandals like the one involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica not only alerted us to how our privacy is being violated, but also to how our democracy has been put at risk.

Yet privacy breaches are just the beginning of our problems. Consider artificial intelligence, which exposes us to a number of ethical challenges, ranging from inherent bias to life and death ethical dilemmas such as the trolley problem. It is imperative that we learn to create algorithms that are auditable, explainable and transparent.

Or consider CRISPR, the gene editing technology, available for just a few hundred dollars, that vastly accelerates our ability to alter DNA. It has the potential to cure terrible diseases such as cancer and Multiple Sclerosis, but also raises troubling issues such as biohacking and designer babies. Worried about some hacker cooking up a harmful computer virus, what about a terrorist cooking up a real virus?

That’s just the start. As quantum and neuromorphic computing become commercially available, most likely within a decade or so, our technology will become exponentially more powerful and the risks will increase accordingly. Clearly, we can no longer just “move fast and break things,” or we’re bound to break something important.

4. We Need a New Way to Evaluate Success

By some measures, we’ve been doing fairly well over the past ten years. GDP has hovered around the historical growth rate of 2.3%. Job growth has been consistent and solid. The stock market has been strong, reflecting robust corporate profits. It has, in fact, been the longest US economic expansion on record.

Yet those figures were masking some very troubling signs, even before the pandemic. Life expectancy in the US has been declining, largely due to drug overdoses, alcohol abuse and suicides. Consumer debt hit record highs in 2019 and bankruptcy rates were already rising. Food insecurity has been an epidemic on college campuses for years.

So, while top-line economic figures painted a rosy picture there was rising evidence that something troubling is afoot. The Business Roundtable partly acknowledged this fact with its statement discarding the notion that creating shareholder value is the sole purpose of a business. There are also a number of initiatives designed to replace GDP with broader measures.

The truth is that our well-being can’t be reduced to and reduced to a few tidy metrics and we need more meaning in our lives than more likes on social media. Probably the most important thing that the digital revolution has to teach us is that technology should serve people and not the other way around. If we really want to change the world for the better, that’s what we need to keep in mind.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pexels

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of August 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of August 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. We also publish a weekly Top 5 as part of our FREE email newsletter. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are August’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Why Amazon Wants to Sell You Robots — by Shep Hyken
  2. Now is the Time to Design Cost Out of Our Products — by Mike Shipulski
  3. How Consensus Kills Innovation — by Greg Satell
  4. The Four Secrets of Innovation Implementation — by Shilpi Kumar
  5. Reset and Reconnect in a Chaotic World — by Janet Sernack
  6. This 9-Box Grid Can Help Grow Your Best Future Talent — by Soren Kaplan
  7. ‘Fail Fast’ is BS. Do This Instead — by Robyn Bolton
  8. The Power of Stopping — by Mike Shipulski
  9. The Battle Against the Half-Life of Learning — by Douglas Ferguson
  10. The Phoenix Checklist – Strategies for Innovation and Regeneration — by Teresa Spangler

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in July that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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Driving the Next Era of Growth: Leveraging Data to Innovate

Driving the Next Era of Growth: Leveraging Data to Innovate

GUEST POST from Teresa Spangler

“50% of US executives and 39% of European executives said budget constraints were the primary hurdle in turning Big Data into a profitable business asset. Rounding out the top 5 challenges were data security concerns, integration challenges, lack of technical expertise, and proliferation of data silos.” (Capgemini)

“The biggest challenges companies face when implementing Big Data are budget constraints” (Capgemini)

Data analytics is continuously evolving as AI and machine learning applications get faster and smarter. The benefits that may be gained by analyzing massive data sets identifying in seconds patterns, signals, and relationships between nonaligned and aligned areas is intoxicating for savvy companies seeking to innovate. We recognize that companies can make faster and better decisions with strong analytic teams interpreting the findings. Look at what information-driven analytics has done already in cool improvements around us. There are so many good examples of this. Take transportation systems, the use of information analytics to course vehicles round congested areas in actual time is one simple example. Another, that literally may have saved the restaurant industry during the pandemic, is meals delivery services which depend on data collected to forecast demand on menu items, key order times, navigation around cities and streets not to mentioned detailed knowledge individual’s meal preferences. Data helped to optimize driving routes for more efficient delivers.

As data analytics becomes more sophisticated, we might anticipate revolutionary disruptions. However, economists report spending greater funds per capita on research, yet there is a significant decline in rate of successful innovation output. One motive for this could be that we are mistakenly focusing an excessive amount of on R&D instead of on innovation output which takes exceptional justification, funding, and resources. What does data analytics have to do with innovation? Everything! Research is crucial but just one part of a puzzle for developing new products and services. Today, innovation requires a sophistication in data analytics interpretation. There’s also a need for the curiosity, for human evaluation and a bit of intuition and intelligence. Companies need an astute cleverness like no other time in history and an ingenious approach to taking research and turning it into something new and worthwhile.  The process must be diligent, but it must also be agile. Too frequently, organizations get bogged down within the details of research and improvement, without truly questioning outside the boundaries of a container process. As a result, we have delays in the process often stalling out for lack of resource allocations. Even worse, companies not focusing on deep understanding of their data may misinterpret the analytics leaving more to chance that to solid pathways.

It’s worth saying, placing a greater emphasis on creativity and innovation is imperative vs. traditional research and improvement methods. As is deeply dissecting the data in your business. Where does all that data live? What are the hidden signals of the data, what types of converging uses (products/solutions) could you turn that data into?

We are in an era of new growth. Poll your customers! They are changing rapidly and challenged with keeping up with the speed of change but know they must. Where are they doubling down their efforts? How well do they understand their own data? What products and services are they developing, who are they collaborating with and a better question, why are you collaborating with them to innovate around their future needs? Are they investing in developing a more tech and analytic savvy organization? Better question, is your company?

As cliché as it is data is the new oil. Data will be producing its own data (it’s happening today) known as synthetic data. According to Gartner, “By 2025, synthetic data will reduce personal customer data collection, avoiding 70% of privacy violation sanctions.” This begs to question the emphasis companies are placing on developing the skills sets of the organization around analytics and data. And simply put, as oil has an expansive array of products and uses, we’re now in an era of inventing new energy sources to reduce even eliminate dependencies on oil. How might data fit into the effort to transform these dependencies? Data is essential for electric and autonomous vehicle development. Innovative companies are undertaking long tail efforts to drive the next generation of IoE (Internet of everything). Data is the fuel. Let’s explore four ways that organizations can use records analytics to power innovation and stay ahead of the competition.

  1. Design new products that think for themselves: understanding data from a variety of sources may trigger new types of needs and possible new products that could be developed. For example: understanding water needs for new smart and innovative cities being designed takes enormous planning. A partner to Plazabridge Group, designs digital twin environments for the water sector. Cites like Singapore, Houston, Dubai, must anticipate the growing needs for water and plan design and building based on anticipated needs but also, they must plan for worst- and best-case scenarios. They must plan for leakage, or contamination or other possible scenarios that may impact water supplies. Digital twinning these environments is the most cost-effective way to simulate new innovative methods. Leveraging as much data as possible as well as generating newly created synthetic data cities can plan more economically, they can execute faster and prepare for events that may occur. Understanding these models around water, suppliers may produce products that help cities build these digital environments. Not just for water systems but for any part of businesses today; manufacturing, facilities management, construction…
  2. Not all innovation has to be moonshot inventions. Simply identify unmet wishes of customers, consumers or the market creating engaging products and services. UBER goes from just carting us around leveraging an incredible inventive back in logistics infrastructure to launch UBER eats! Why not, the drivers are already out and about, the data collected indicates the most popular spots riders go to for coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks… UBER analysts have vast information on customer interests in turn turned from few riders during a pandemic to delivering food as an essential business during the pandemic. A pivot turns into a scalable source of augmented revenue as the shelter lifts and people get back to riding.
  3. So much opportunity exists to improve customer engagement: records analytics can assist businesses to better understand their clients and their wishes. This expertise can then be used to improve customer service and support future-proofing your business.
  4. Extend efficiency: data crunching algorithms, digital twinning, AR/VR simulations and access to remote experts will help corporations to streamline their operations, digitally transforming themselves for greater efficiency. This increased efficiency can lead to price savings, which can be reinvested in innovation.“90% of CEOs believe the digital economy will impact their industry, but less than 15% are executing on a digital strategy.”

— MIT Sloan and Capgemini. Seek out experts and industry mentors to help your organization make these shifts. We often fear what we cannot see, the beautiful thing about the digital world is you can build a virtual environment visualizing the unseen, and plan for all types of scenarios. A model we developed (not dependent on virtual or digital anything in fact) at Plazabridge Group is around the CIA’s The Phoenix Checklist. Strategies for Regenerating is our formula for going deep into understanding problems, future opportunities, needs, anticipating deeply the “What ifs” of every possible scenario.  When done leveraging data and analytics the possibilities become endless.

Original Article

Image credits: Pixabay

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Process Keepers Hold the Keys to Change

Process Keepers Hold the Keys to Change

GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski

If you want to improve the work, ask the people who do the work. They know the tools and templates. They know the ins and outs of the process. They know when and how to circumvent the process. And they know what will break if you try to change the process. And what breaks is the behavior of the people that use the process.

When a process changes, people’s behavior does not. Once people learn the process, they want to continue to work that way. It’s like their bodies know what to do without even thinking about it. But on the other hand, when a process doesn’t meet the need, people naturally modify their behavior to address the shortcomings of the process. And in this case, people’s behavior doesn’t match the process yet they standardize their behavior on circumventing the process. Both of these realities – people like to do what they did last time and people modify their behavior to address shortcomings of the process – make it difficult for people to change their behavior when the process changes.

When the process doesn’t work but the modified behavior does, change the process to match the modified behavior. When that’s not possible, ask the people why they modified their behavior and ask them to come up with a process that is respectful of their on-the-fly improvements and respectful of the company’s minimum requirements for their processes.

When the process doesn’t work but the people are following it anyway, ask them to come up with ways to improve the process and listen to their ideas. Then, run a pilot of their new process on the smallest scale and see what happens. If it makes things better, adopt the process on a larger scale and standardize on the new way to work. If it makes things worse, stop the pilot and try another improvement suggested by the team, again on a small scale. Repeat this process until the process performs satisfactorily.

When the people responsible for doing the work are given the opportunity to change their processes for the better, there’s a good chance the broader population that uses the process will ultimately align their behavior to the new process. But the change will not be immediate and there may be some backsliding. But, because the keepers of the process feel ownership of the new process and benefit from the change, they will continue to reinforce the new behavior until it becomes new behavior. And if it turns out the new process needs to be modified further, the keepers of the process will make those changes and slowly align the behavior to match the process.

When the new process is better than the old one, people will ultimately follow the new process. And the best way to make the new process better than the old one is to ask the people who do the work.

Image credit: Old Photo Profile

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Designing Your Organization for Transformation

Designing Your Organization for Transformation

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

The March on Washington, in which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, is one of the most iconic events in American history. So it shouldn’t be surprising that when anybody wants to drive change in the United States, they often begin with trying to duplicate that success.

Yet that’s a gross misunderstanding of why the march was successful. As I explain in Cascades, the civil rights movement didn’t become powerful because of the March on Washington, the March on Washington took place because the civil rights movement became powerful. It was part of the end game, not an opening shot.

Unfortunately, many corporate transformations make the same mistake. They try to drive change without preparing the ground first. So it shouldn’t be surprising that McKinsey has found that only about a quarter of transformational efforts succeed. Make no mistake, transformation is a journey, not a destination, and you start by preparing the ground first.

Start with a Keystone Change

Every successful transformation starts out with a vision, such as racial equality in the case of the civil rights movement. Yet to be inspiring, a vision needs to be aspirational, which means it is rarely achievable in any practical time frame. A good vision is more of a beacon than it is a landmark.

That’s probably why every successful transformation I found in my research first had to identify a keystone change which had a tangible and concrete objective, involved multiple stakeholders and paved the way for future change. In some cases, there are multiple keystone changes being pursued at once seeking to influence different institutions.

For example, King and his organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), mobilized southern blacks, largely through religious organizations, to influence the media and politicians. At the same time, through their work at the NAACP, Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall worked to influence the judicial system to eliminate segregation.

The same principle holds for corporate transformations. When Paul O’Neill set out to turnaround Alcoa in the 1980s, he started by improving workplace safety and, more recently, at Experian, when CIO Barry Libenson set out to move his company to the cloud, he started with internal APIs. In both cases, the stakeholders won over in achieving the keystone change also played a part in bringing about the larger vision.

Lead with Values

Throughout his career, Nelson Mandela was accused of being a communist, an anarchist and worse. Yet when confronted with these, he would always point out that nobody needed to guess what he believed, because it was all written down in the Freedom Charter way back in 1955. Those values signaled to everybody, both inside and outside of the anti-apartheid movement, what they were fighting for.

In a similar vein, when Lou Gerstner arrived at IBM in the early 90s, he saw that the once great company had lost sight of its values. For example, its salespeople were famous for dressing formally, but that was merely an early manifestation of a value. The original idea was to be close to customers and, since most of IBM’s early customers were bankers, salespeople dressed formally. Yet if customers were now wearing khakis, it was okay for IBM’ers to do so as well.

Another long held value at IBM was a competitive spirit, but IBM executives had started to compete with each other internally rather than working to beat the competition. So Gerstner worked to put a stop to the bickering, even firing some high-placed executives who were known for infighting. He made it clear, through personal conversations, emails and other channels that in the new IBM the customer would come first.

What’s important to remember about values is, if they are to be anything more than platitudes, you have to be willing to incur costs to live up to them. When Nelson Mandela rose to power, he couldn’t oppress white South Africans and live up to the values in the Freedom Charter. At IBM, Gerstner was willing to give up potential revenue on some sales to make his commitment to the customer credible.

Build a Network of Small Groups

With attendance at its weekend services exceeding 20,000, Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church is one of the largest congregations in the world. Yet much like the March on Washington, the mass of people obscures the networks that underlie the church and are the source of its power.

The heart of Saddleback Church is the prayer groups of six to eight people that meet each week, build strong ties and support each other in matters of faith, family and career. It is the loose connections between these small groups that give Saddleback its combination of massive reach and internal coherence, much like the networks of small groups convened in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the civil rights movement.

One of the key findings of my research into social and political movements is that they are driven by small groups, loosely connected, but united by a common purpose. Perhaps not surprisingly, research has also shown that the structure of networks plays a major role in organizational performance.

That’s why it’s so important to network your organization by building bonds that supersede formal relationships. Experian, for example has built a robust network of clubs, where employees can share a passion, such as bike riding and employee resource groups, that are more focused on identity. While these activities are unrelated to work, the company has found that it helps employees span boundaries in the organization and collaborate more effectively.

All too often, we try to break down silos to improve information flow. That’s almost aways a mistake. To drive a true transformation, you need to connect silos so that they can coordinate action.

Make the Shift from Hierarchies to Networks

In an earlier age, organizations were far more hierarchical. Power rested at the top. Orders went down, information flowed up and decisions we made by a select priesthood of vaunted executives. In today’s highly connected marketplace, that’s untenable. The world has become fast and hierarchies are simply too slow.

That’s especially true when it comes to transformation. It doesn’t matter if the order comes from the top. If the organization itself isn’t prepared, any significant transformation is unlikely to succeed. That’s why you need to lead with vision, establish a keystone change that involves multiple stakeholders and work deliberately to network your organization.

Yet perhaps most importantly, you need to understand that in a networked world, power no longer resides at the top of hierarchies, but emanates from the center of networks. You move to center by continually widening and deepening connections. That’s how you drive a true transformation.

None of this happens overnight. It takes some time. That’s why the desire for change is not nearly as important as the will to prepare for it.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pixabay

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Why Are Transformations So Hard to Manage?

Why Are Transformations So Hard to Manage?

GUEST POST from Drs. Dean Anderson and Linda Ackerman Anderson

Knowing which type of change your organization is undergoing is critical to your success. Three types exist, and each requires different change strategies, plans and degrees of employee engagement. A very common reason for failure in transformational change is leaders inadvertently using approaches that do not fit the type of change they are leading. Is this happening in your organization?

The three types of change occurring in organizations today are:

  1. Developmental
  2. Transitional
  3. Transformational

Traditional project management and change management effectively support developmental and transitional change, but they are woefully insufficient for transformational change. You will need to understand the type of change you are in to know whether typical project or change management approaches can work for you.

Developmental Change

Developmental change is the simplest type of change: it improves what you are currently doing rather than creates something new. Improving existing skills, processes, methods, performance standards, or conditions can all be developmental changes. Specific examples include increasing sales or quality, interpersonal communication training, simple work process improvements, team development, and problem-solving efforts.

Transitional Change

Transitional change replaces “what is” with something completely new. This requires designing and implementing a “new state.” The organization simultaneously must dismantle and emotionally let go of the old way of operating while the new state is being put into place. This “transitional” phase can be project managed and effectively supported with traditional change management tools. Examples include reorganizations, simple mergers or acquisitions, creation of new products or services that replace old ones, and IT implementations that do not radically impact people’s work or require a significant shift in culture or behavior to be effective.

Two variables define transitional change: (1) you can determine your destination in detail before you begin, and can, therefore, “manage” your transition, and (2) people are largely impacted only at the levels of skills and actions, not the more personal levels of mindset, behavior and culture.

Transformational Change

Transformation, however, is far more challenging for two distinct reasons. First, the future state is unknown when you begin, and is determined through trial and error as new information is gathered. This makes it impossible to “manage” transformation with pre-determined, time-bound and linear project plans. You can have an over-arching change strategy, but the actual change process literally must “emerge” as you go. This means that your executives, managers and frontline workers alike must operate in the unknown—that scary, unpredictable place where stress skyrockets and emotions run high.

Second, the future state is so radically different than the current state that the people and culture must change to implement it successfully. New mindsets and behaviors are required. In fact, often leaders and workers must shift their worldviews to even invent the required new future, let alone operate it effectively.

Without these “inner” shifts of mindset and culture, the “external” implementation of new structures, systems, processes or technology do not produce their intended ROI. For example, many large IT implementations fail because they require a mindset and culture change that does not occur, i.e., the new systems require people to share information across strongly held boundaries or put the needs of the enterprise over their own turf agendas. Without these radical changes in attitude and behavior, people do not use the technology as designed and the change fails to deliver its ROI.

Implications for the Workforce

Because transformation impacts people so personally, you must get them involved in it to garner their support; and the earlier in the process of formulating your transformation strategy the better! Employee resistance is always in direct proportion to the degree to which people are kept in the dark and out of the change process. Here are some options for employee engagement.

Get staff engaged in building your case for change and determining the vision for the new state. Consider using large group meeting technologies, which can involve hundreds of people simultaneously in short periods of time.

Consider putting a wider representation of people on your change leadership team. Provide mindset, behavior, and change skill development to all employees. Use employee groups to identify your customers’ requirements for your transformation, and to benchmark what “best-in-class” organizations are doing in your industry. Ask employee groups to input to enterprise-wide changes that impact them, and give them the authority to design the local changes for improving their work (they know it best.) Then before implementation, get them involved in doing an impact analysis of your design to ensure that it is feasible and won’t overwhelm your organization beyond what it can handle.

When you engage your employees in these ways before implementation, you minimize resistance. Use such strategies to support your change efforts, especially if they are transformational.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of July 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of July 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. We also publish a weekly Top 5 as part of our FREE email newsletter. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are July’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. What Latest Research Reveals About Innovation Management Software — by Jesse Nieminen
  2. Top Five Reasons Customers Don’t Return — by Shep Hyken
  3. Five Myths That Kill Change and Transformation — by Greg Satell
  4. How the Customer in 9C Saved Continental Airlines from Bankruptcy — by Howard Tiersky
  5. Changing Your Innovator’s DNA — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  6. Why Stupid Questions Are Important to Innovation — by Greg Satell
  7. We Must Rethink the Future of Technology — by Greg Satell
  8. Creating Employee Connection Innovations in the HR, People & Culture Space — by Chris Rollins
  9. Sickcare AI Field Notes — by Arlen Meyers, M.D.
  10. Cultivate Innovation by Managing with Empathy — by Douglas Ferguson

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in June that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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What will it take to create a national medical records system?

What will it take to create a national medical records system?

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

Almost every person that has experienced the US sickcare system has been frustrated by the lack of data interoperability. We are all paying the costs, now pegged at $4.1T. About $1T of the tab is waste.

Here is the case for data interoperability.

Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, is the latest person who says he wants his company to fix that.

Like those that preceded him, he will face:

  1. Stakeholders that don’t play nice with each other
  2. An enormous cost
  3. Trying to create a VAST business model
  4. Inconsistent technical standards
  5. Competition
  6. The lack of a national patient unique identifier system
  7. Privacy and confidentiality issues
  8. A highly regulated system for patients sharing their data
  9. End user resistance to dissemination and implementation
  10. Cybersecurity
  11. Connecting the kaleidoscope of the disparate elements of the US sickcare system of systems, like the VA, safety net hospitals, rural hospitals, academic centers and DOD facilities
  12. Combining financial data with clinical data
  13. Combining research data with clinical care data
  14. Varying levels of data maturity in the system
  15. Accessing data that is created outside of traditional medical service facilities
  16. The growth of retail sickcare and sicktech companies
  17. Harnessing data from the internet of medical things
  18. Integrating artificial intelligence to not only achieve the quintuple aim, but also create shareholder value that will conflict with one another
  19. Winning the “cloud wars”
  20. The lack of trust and growing sickcare technoskepticism
  21. The Cerner VA implentation FUBAR halo effects.
  22. Changing the EMR “SHIT” -single most hated information technology- to a whole product solution
  23. Accessing unstructured data on social media sites
  24. Governance of the enterprise
  25. Regulatory oversight of software as a medical device and digital therapeutics
  26. Low levels of sickcare professional and patient data literacy
  27. Barriers to international data sharing in a era of pandemics and required rapid response
  28. Fax facts
  29. Push back from patients who want to be paid for their data
  30. Decentralized clinical trial data issues
  31. DEI
  32. Leaderpreneurship skills
  33. UI/UX Will he eliminate passwords?

Wouldn’t it be nice if Sickcare USA, Inc. could provide you with the same experience as your bank ATM system?

Is Larry really the smartest person or just in the wrong room?

Image Credit: Pixabay

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