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Three Steps to Unlocking the Promised Benefits of Your Digital Transformation

The majority of transformations promise benefits; they are the reward for the effort taken to transform. In many cases those “promised” benefits never materialize, efficiencies are not captured, people retain their old ways of working, or the transformed methods and practices require “work-arounds” that take equally as long as the old method.

The common theme of the missed opportunities above is that people have not changed their work procedures and habits to optimize the functionality or efficiency of the new methods and practices. They may have made a partial change and created a hybrid method. They are trapped somewhere between the old familiar way and the envisioned way of doing things. This state has neither the familiarity nor the comfort of the old way or the efficiency of the new way. Employees have adopted this hybrid as the new unintended way of working, and unfortunately, it has become their new habit. As we know, habits, once formed, are hard to break.

What can be done to stop your people ending up in that ineffective hybrid state? Below are three steps to help unlock the promised benefits of your digital transformation and to help your people avoid becoming stuck with an inefficient and unintended hybrid way of working.

Look past the launch of the new system or process. We all focus on the launch as the pivotal moment of the transformation; it’s a natural thing to do and something to celebrate. Looking past the launch to the behaviors you need from your people to capture the promised benefits is a more profitable place to focus. Yes, the launch has to happen, but it’s the changed behavior of your people that will deliver the benefits you were promised.

Have a clear vision of what the new behaviors actually are: What does good look like and when will you know you have achieved it? If you want your people to focus on higher value work after the routine processing has been digitalized, what do you want them to be doing? More importantly, what outcomes do you want them to create? If you want to capture efficiencies, what are your metrics and how does each individual contribute to the new success?

What is the performance gap you have to bridge to get the promised benefits? The design of a bridge is determined by the size of the gap to be spanned. It’s the same with a performance gap. How radical a change in behavior are you seeking? Is it an evolution of skills and knowledge or a revolution requiring a completely fresh mindset? How adept at dealing with change are your people and how fatigued by previous change initiatives are they? All of these factors need to be considered to ensure a successful adoption of the behaviors you need to capture the benefits promised by the transformation.

To increase the chances of capturing those benefits, consider the three steps above and accurately assess the ability of your people to bridge the performance gap. By ignoring these factors, you risk your people rejecting the new way of working and the “system” protecting itself. Employees might also only partially adopt unintended hybrid behaviors stuck somewhere between where they were and where you want them to be.

The easier thing to do is to focus on the “hard” system launch—the harder and more effective way is to consider how you can capture the promised benefits via changed behaviors. What would your ROI be on time invested in working through these three steps before you launch your digital transformation?

About the Authors

Ian Croft
I have always been fascinated by performance excellence. Obviously, we don’t call it that when we watch our favorite sports team/heroine/hero winning at their sport or while we watch an amazing artistic performance—we just enjoy the moment. For me, that moment is frequently followed by these questions: • How did they do that? • How hard have they worked individually or as a team to be that good? • What do they do that others don’t do that makes them successful? Being a Performance Consultant with GP Strategies allows me to explore those questions with clients on a daily basis. I was born and raised in the UK and moved to the US at the start of 2007. My career started with a UK-based bank where I specialized in commercial banking. It was the chance to help clients build successful businesses that attracted me to commercial banking over the other alternatives on offer. I spent several years working with clients on expansion strategies, restructuring their businesses, and working through the day-to-day challenges of running their businesses. I moved into commercial banking training during 1998 after completing an MBA. That’s when I found my true passion: helping people become the best they can be at what they do. I moved to a global bank during 2000 in a training role and became a Learning and Performance Consultant with responsibility for four of the bank’s businesses in 2003. In this role, I traveled internationally, delivering training and working with the four businesses to solve performance issues. My final role with the global bank was as Head of Commercial Banking for North America. After leaving banking, I became a Solution Architect within the Global Learning Solutions division of a major consultancy firm. This gave me the opportunity to work with diverse clients on learning and performance issues and indulge my passion for helping clients improve the performance of their businesses. I have been with GP Strategies since 2016 and truly love what I do here. Each day brings fresh challenges as I partner with clients to solve performance issues at individual, department, divisional, or organizational levels. I live in Delaware with my wife Elaine and our dog Charlie. I am an avid cyclist and can be found out on the roads of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland most weekends.

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