- in Blog , Podcasts by David Wilkinson
The Importance of Trust During Digital Transformation Projects
The Trust for Transformation Model
Whilst many focus on the technological aspects of digital transformation, it is often the people and organisational aspects which are the most complex during such projects. Building on the last podcast: What is Digital Transformation and how does it differ from IT Enabled Organisational Change? Melanie and David explore the issue of trust during digital transformation projects.
Podcast: Trust in Digital Transformation
List of Podcasts in this series
- What is digital transformation?
- The trust for transformation model – this podcast
- Success factors for digital transformation
- The experience of a consultant assisting with digital transformation in organisations
- Transformational Leadership, Uncertainty and Digital Transformation
- Design Thinking and Company Resilience Support Organisations During Transformations
- A Roadmap for Facilitating Successful Digital Transformation
Melanie’s Trust for Transformation Model
Digital Transformation 2 – The Trust for Transformation Model[00:00:00] David: Great, welcome back. And this is day two of our digital transformation series sprint, I suppose, with Melanie Marshall and myself, David Wilkinson. Yesterday, we talked about what digital transformation is, how it’s different from IT enabled organisational change and digitalisation and all of that kind of good stuff and today, what we’re going to be having a look at, is a model that Melanie has developed around trust-based transformation. I think that’s right, now before we start, Melanie’s one of our members, but she’s also the author of this book, Trust, which is a really good book, there’s a podcast of an interview that I did with Melanie. She published this last year I’m right in saying that I think, and it’s called Trust the foundation for healthy organisations and teams. It’s a really good book, and I’ll put a link to the podcast interview that I did with Melanie about that. So welcome back, Melanie and let’s just have a look do here and you won’t be able to see this on the podcast. So, we’ll need [00:01:00] to kind of describe things. Do you want to just quickly… [00:01:03] Melanie: Yeah. So thank you for having me first and foremost. And yeah, I am a member of the Oxford Review and what I love is the way in which you create really great, easy to read research papers, and you pull them together in a way that I don’t have to troll through hundreds of thousands of bits to be able to get the good stuff and get the goal to go, oh okay, this is a way that I can make evidence-based decisions and offer clients that I work with an evidence-based approach to what they want to do. So, if it wasn’t for the Oxford Review, I don’t think I would have been able to write even half of the book that I wrote and published last year, because so much of the research was really founded from the papers that you were able to provide me as a member, David. So thank you to you and your team, for that. So, yeah, I wrote Trust, cause it is very much foundational and I think we talk about it a lot, but we don’t necessarily get to the nitty gritty around how to develop it, certainly with [00:02:00] ourselves and with other people, and it got to a point where, I guess, between writing the book and now, well, it’s about hard-wiring, what does that look like within an organisational context? Because it’s one thing to talk about trust among people, but what does it mean when you’ve got to try and grab trust from a perspective of you’ve got a big change or a big transformation journey or agenda that you’re on. How do you build that level of confidence that the effort that you’re going to go through and we talked about the amount of effort that you’ve got to go through for each transformation yesterday. How do you get to that, to a point where you’re going to be able to bring people with you? Because we talk about it, but it obviously, sometimes isn’t particularly clear. So going back to the research and one of the papers, I read that you did David, as part of one of the special reports was on high-performing teams, and there was another research paper around overcoming cynicism to be able to change organisations. Yes, that’s right, overcoming cynicism for transformational leaders. [00:03:00] I have copped that for, I’d say most of my career where the thing that people want and the thing that they ask for isn’t necessarily what they’re prepared to do, and you can have all of the engagement, the communications and training plans under the sun, but ultimately if you’re not looking at what you’re trying to achieve from a whole of system perspective, and when even when people say, oh, you know, it’s the culture, what does culture mean? Because it is more than, you know, bringing people along, it’s more than behaviors. What drives it? What it led me to think is, well, how do I present culture in a way that is going to get everybody on board. So regardless of whether you call yourself a people person, a tech person, or a business person, it’s irrelevant, as a multidisciplinary team of people, how do we all get on the same page? So where it all came down to was, how to rebuild trust for transformation. And the first element of that is, you know, leading with trust. Is there an element where there is leadership at all [00:04:00] levels, because we talk about, change from, you know, getting a shared sense of purpose, shared leadership, but ultimately it means nothing if you’re coming from the top down, because it also has to be about bottom not leadership as well and leadership across domains. [00:04:15] Melanie: So one of the first parts of this triangle on this three areas of the triangle, one is developing leadership at all levels so that you can appreciate the value of the people that you’ve got within your organisation. The next part of the triangle is improving business intelligence. So what type of information do you have that will enable everybody to make evidence-based decisions? And then the third part of the triangle is how do you systemise performance? And this is about the people, the processes, the technology, all of the bits that make up how you deliver a service and certainly how your customers receive the service. So when we think in terms of a process improvement, automation, and [00:05:00] enabling businesses through technology, all of those things have to be in sync and integrated in order for them to work well. So those things, when you bring them together is what will allow you to achieve your intent. So, that’s the model, and what I’ve found so far in using it, there’s a whole stack of research underneath it that supports this type of approach. Is it a really quick and easy way to also help organisations really sort of self-assess where they’re at, because they could be really great on the leadership side, but they could be really bad at how they create and share intelligence across their teams to make evidence based decisions. They could be great on the data side, but they might not be so good in how they use that data to be able to drive performance and improve their business practices. So getting people to look at things from that three lens view, it really supports that systems thinking, that systems design and also that systems improvement in order to get [00:06:00] transformation. So that’s the model in a nutshell. [00:06:02] David: Okay. So let me start with some questions. Certainly this whole idea of leading with trust and developing leadership at all levels makes an awful lot of sense, and there’s an awful lot of research to show that probably the, and the word you used was foundational attribute of good leadership is developing trust. It’s very hard for people to, you know, people are, don’t want to follow you unless they’re coerced in some way, if they don’t trust you and that’s a real problem. And one of the things, and I just wonder whether you can tell a little bit more about this. One of the things that we certainly know from the research is that leading an organisation when it’s kind of business as usual, making business decisions and the day-to-day running of an organisation, setting a strategic direction, and those kinds of things is a very different prospect than leading an organisation, given what we were saying yesterday about how Rutan branch a digital transformation is, it’s a very different prospect to [00:07:00] leading an organisation through a transformation process. And I just wondered what your comments are about that difference in the kind of the type of leadership and the kind of aims and objectives of leadership during transformational programs. [00:07:14] Melanie: Yeah. I think one of the biggest challenge with respect to transformation is that there’s such a big gap between the reality of what people currently experience and what they already working on within their business to where they want to go and that gap is always underestimated. And regardless of how clear your strategy might be, or how clear your plan, what they usually, they provide a stage gate type approach to transformation. It’s all of the nuances in between and a lack of detailed understanding around what the current state is and how that needs to change and what the change impacts are, that tends to pull these transformation efforts apart. What the research also has [00:08:00] suggested, and I find that this actually happens as well with clients that I’ve worked with, is it the pressure to change and transform as well as still deliver and maintain current state by doing what you’ve always done in order to keep the lights on while you’re trying, while you’re trying to transfer film is incredibly hard because you’re ultimately looking at a research and development innovation type side of your brain but then at the same time, you’re also looking at that service delivery management, as I said before, keeping the lights on. So maintaining what you already do while at the same time, trying to totally shift it into something else, it requires two different types of approaches. So when it comes to thinking, in terms of leadership, one is, yeah, you’re maintaining a service and keeping it going, but then the other one is I guess for one of a bit of a term, break what we’ve always done and really challenge everything. We can look at the possibilities of doing things differently, and that can be [00:09:00] really risky and very scary to people because those changes are uncertain, even if people are aware that the impact might be something in particular, how are they going to prepare for that impact and how are they going to, I guess, visualise something that’s brand new when they’re constantly faced with just the pain of hearing. So it’s a very two very different skill sets that are required when it comes to leadership for a transformation, respecting the now, but at the same time, being prepared to let go of some of those comforts that you already have in order to get the new. [00:09:35] David: Yeah, and this is what’s referred to as organisational ambidexterity. So, and there’s a whole genre of leadership around both adaptability, flexibility, so transformational leadership and things like that, but there’s also a, we’ve been doing a project styles of leadership, and I think we’re up to about 116 different styles at the moment that we found in the research literature. So, one of the newer ones is ambidextrous leadership and the [00:10:00] whole idea of ambidextrous leadership is this facing in two ways. One is like keeping the business running, bringing money in whilst at the same time facing towards the future, working out what new market positioning is, where we’re going to be in a few years time, what changes are coming along at a whole series of different levels? You know, political changes, social changes, scientific technical changes, and the legal changes and all of those kinds of things. And what a lot of the research is suggesting is that the organisation itself, so the people within the organisations, most people aren’t very good at, but doing both things at the same time. So a lot of the research around organisational ambidexterity is suggesting that they’re not the same groups of people trying to do the same, both of those things together. However, this is where the ambidextrous leadership and the transformational leadership point comes in, is that the leaders do have to be able to both think about and strategise for [00:11:00] both of those types of events, and that’s no easy thing and it’s okay do it with a stationary target, the trouble is once you engage in a transformation or any change, you’re dealing with a changing target. So things are constantly changing, you’re getting constant feedback, you know, as the old saying goes, you know, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. The same thing happens with strategies for change, and it’s dealing with that feedback as it’s coming along and being able to change as we kind of go along. [00:11:30] Melanie: Yeah. Hence, the model and hence why it’s so important to be able to make those evidence-based decisions and, you know, we talk about governance, we talk about reporting, we talk about performance metrics all the time, within organisations and how important they are, but the quality of those measures and how you use them really determines whether or not you can make good decisions or you’re making decisions off the cuff in a reactive way. So being agile is not without a plan, in fact, the more [00:12:00] planning you have at the bowl, the better the quality of intelligency you have going into that plan, as well as when you’re moving through the plan. The more capable you are of being able to, I guess, turn on a dime from, okay, I’m now currently delivering. This and this is the here and now, and now with this new information, as we’re progressing, we’re comfortable that we can also now, you know, shift left right upside down or inside out because we’ve got this really good solid intel that tells us that what we were doing and how we were going to, probably isn’t working the way that it should. So, yeah, prioritising the governance and reporting throughout a transformation effort is really key, as is making sure that the information that you’re using to maintain the status quo is of equal quality to that information, otherwise you’re comparing apples to pears and pears to oranges and it tends to work because our confidence comes from doing the best we can with the information that [00:13:00] we’ve got. [00:13:00] David: Yeah, and getting the best information possible, which kind of brings us to the next side of the triangle that you’ve got there about improving business intelligence. So I would refer to this as knowledge management within organisations and again, the knowledge management that you require for running a business is very different from the knowledge management and the knowledge that you require for transformation purposes, and for that exploration side of organisational ambidexterity. [00:13:26] Melanie: It definitely means that you’ve got to be out more and be open to feedback coming from external sources. Yesterday we talked about, the more information that you have about your reality and being honest about what your current state is, the harder it can be to accept that, and make it safe to say, well, yeah, we’re not as good as what we could be, but that’s okay because we’re now going to use this information to fuel what we do next. And I think quite often we tend to prefer to hide from the truth as opposed to expose it and use it for the greater good. [00:13:59] David: Go [00:14:00] towards the information that we like, and that supports the way that we’re seeing the world, as opposed to what’s really happening here. What’s the real state of affairs? And one of the things that we do know, in fact, we were preparing a research briefing yesterday, just on this, about external sources of information and how leaders engage with that. And there’s a whole area of innovation called open innovation, which actually refers to the ability to be able to kind of reach out to information sources outside of the organisation and make use of those sources in an innovative way, in order to be able to both drive change, but also kind of position ourselves for the future as well. [00:14:40] Melanie: Yeah. I’ve also seen quite I guess what another colleague would have called an allergic reaction to the truth, in the sense that when they go outside, with organisations they feel that it by exposing themselves or asking these questions that are going to provide feedback that might not be as nice as they’d [00:15:00] like to hear is that there’s an expectation that if you’re going to ask the question, you’re going to do something with that information. So as much as it’s good to go out and get external feedback as well, and even internally asking people, you know, what is it like to experience this service? What is it like to deliver this service? If you can ask the question, be very, very prepared and committed to acting on the feedback that they’re going to give you. Now, you might not be able to act on all of the feedback but you absolutely have to acknowledge it, and you’ve absolutely got to deal with the biggest pin point that comes across your desk first, because anything less than that, it’s just another review that gets popped underneath, you know, popped in a cupboard somewhere, never to be seen again. So, it’s one thing to say that you want to know those things, but you’ve got to be committed to be able to do something about the information that comes your way. [00:15:51] David: Yeah. And it’s more than just the leaders as well, because there’s a couple of things come into play here. Firstly, there’s the ego, you know, that hurts, and it happens to, you know, you get [00:16:00] feedback, but it also hurts with employees as well, when they’re getting feedback, that things aren’t going the way that we need them to go, you know, it’s a hit, not only to our ego, but our identity. And then what we’ve got is both, we’ve not just got the ego issues, we’ve also got the emotional issues of both dealing with the change, people having to do things in ways that they probably hadn’t anticipated, rescale probably, you know, having to change things like status and identity as the change moves on, because, you know, because it’s a transformation, old skills, old knowledge and things like that are going to be kind of moved away and people are going to have to position themselves and think about themselves in completely different ways. [00:16:44] Melanie: I love that you’ve said that. So I was speaking at an event last week about business process intelligence and customer journey, employee experience journey, modeling. And you know, if you’ve never really sort of say, that done in an integrated way, it’s quite a [00:17:00]shock to the system. So there is a company called SAP Signavio, where they’ve got a suite of tools now, some software where you can map the end-to-end experience of a service, whether you’re an employee or a customer, but then underneath the narrative of what that experience is going to be as a journey, you can then go right down into the detail of your business processes and the intelligence that that’s pulling through, and it’s also linked to, direct feedback as well. So what particular elements, like of a stage in a journey are all visible and it’s amazing, it’s amazing stuff, it’s really breakthrough stuff when you see it, when you’re using it well, the trick though, and the challenge of it is, is that it’s so super scary and because of exactly what you’ve just described, nobody wants to be told that their baby’s ugly, because even if you know that that’s true, you don’t want to have to admit it and it’s still your baby. So extreme empathy was what I suggested [00:18:00] in that space, and I’m not talking about the extreme empathy where it’s just that surface level, so sorry about that. I’m talking about extreme empathy to the point of, okay, well, let us understand the pain that you’re going through because you can’t deliver in the way that you’d like to deliver, I can see that this hurts, you want to deliver more value, what’s blocking you from being able to do that, and how can we look at optimising your experience, so that then the service will flow on for the customers because employees are your first customers, and when you start showing, you know, you’re shining these lights into dark corners where things aren’t quite so great. There are some things that maybe they worked really well 20 years ago and they’re not working so well now, things change, circumstances change, technology changes, we’ve discussed that yesterday, that technology, new technology can be a driver, all of those things, it can trigger a transformation initiative. [00:19:00] When you’re talking to those employers that are going through that, you’ve got to really use extreme empathy and say, look, we’re gonna get that type of information that we’ve never been able to see before. We’re going to get data that is going to expose us in a way that says that there are things that we could be doing better, but when we get that information, let’s co-design how we’re going to fix it together. Let’s be real about what’s possible, what can be done and also be really clear around the support that you need, whether that be people, process technology, what’s going to be needed to actually make this a better experience for you. So, that’s really the part of that third triangle, is how do we co-design and experience in a way, that you delivering it is going to be better, which ultimately then the customers are going to get a better product or service as well. So, yeah, be careful what you wish for and be prepared to do the work with people to be able to make those improvements together in partnership. [00:19:57] David: And I assume part of that [00:20:00] optimising the experience is about empowering people during the transformation, because they’re part of the transformation, but they also help to drive the transformation and help to give us feedback about mistakes that we’re making, about where we’re going. [00:20:14] Melanie: Yeah, absolutely, like a hundred percent. And it’s actually not about bringing people on the journey. It’s allowing them to drive, it’s showing them the road, popping them in the car and saying, look we’re all on this journey together, because you’re a subject matter expert in this space, you’re probably the best person to drive the bus today. How would you drive it if you had full control and then as you get to the next stop in the road, it could be somebody else that then subs in and then I start driving so that you’ve got that end to end experience with this being fueled and driven by multiple disciplines who are all owning their piece of the puzzle, because we all look at things through a different lens. So being able to have not just a single source view of what the experience is and how that’s [00:21:00] impacting people and employee on a customer level, but then also giving the power back to those service delivery workers in the first instance, not the customers, your people who are doing the job, providing the service, giving them the power and saying, look, if you had a magic wand, what would be the thing that you would change first? Because quite often we do a review, there’s like 250 recommendations, people are so overwhelmed that they can’t see the forest for the trees, but if you really, really want to know what needs to change and how to prioritise it, you’d be going back to the people on the ground to say, what’s the thing that holds you back the most and they’ll tell you. And yeah, you want them to drive. It’s really. [00:21:40] David: So part of this is shared leadership at lots of different levels, part of it’s servant leadership, that idea of what are you going through? How can I help from a leadership perspective and putting yourself into a servant leadership position where you say, okay, what resources do you need in order to be able to do that and providing those resources? The other thing from a [00:22:00]leadership position is, you know, organisations are a complex, hopefully adaptive organisms. And that it’s, there’s also a kind of a management process here, it’s like herding cats, because when you start to empower people, you’ve got lots of sources of information. You’ve got lots of moving parts all at the same time, and that comes back to the thing that we’re talking about. What you’ve got on the second side of the triangle about improving business intelligence, as I refer to it, as internal knowledge management, both capturing those experiences and learning from them, but also having some form of knowledge management process, so that you can see what’s going on. [00:22:39] Melanie: Yes, knowledge management process, as well as sharing, and I mean, organisation often refer to that as governance. So how are we going to govern this information in a way that’s going to share it across the different silos, the different streams that we have different areas, because organisation as a whole, they may be made up of many different types of services, [00:23:00] many different types of domains, but the intent of what that service or what that organisation does is always the same. So how do all of those parts really line up to achieve the whole? And they’re not even going to be able to describe that or define that unless the information is shared across all of those areas in a way that is useful and meaningful, because data is just data, but unless you’ve got the story behind it and you’ve in different people can be involved in telling the story. That’s where the power really is and when people get to see those things, they then feel that they’re also a little bit more trusted to be able to be part of the decision-making process around what needs to be improved and how, and they get involved in the prioritisation of what’s going to change. [00:23:47] David: And trust is empowering. So when you feel trusted and you trust the people around you, including the leaders, then we get more what we call employee voice people speaking up, people saying, hang on, this isn’t working, [00:24:00] or hold on a minute, there’s a better way of doing this, or with digital transformation, one of the areas comes out to a lot of the papers is actually kind of sitting back and watching the way people are actually using the new technology. So because what a number of studies have found is that people quite often don’t use them in the ways that the makers intended them, but you can learn an awful lot from the user experience within the organisation. And then obviously, the customer experience on the end of all of this, you know, what’s happening to them? [00:24:31] Melanie: Yeah. Well, it’s the observational study that you do. And I don’t know how many times I’ve gone into somewhere where I’ve said to someone look, you know, talk me through what you do and they might go, oh yeah, here’s our business process models. Here’s our SOP, this is our procedure, this is what we do around here, and then I’ll just sit back and I’ll watch and I’ll say, well, what about this thing? Oh, yeah. Well, you know, we had to, normally we’d have to put in a report or we have to do it this way, but we’ve got to go in or out of three other different systems to be able to do that. And we [00:25:00] do have a reporting tool, but nobody really likes the way that those reports pulled out, the executive don’t really know how to make sense of them, so we go and do our own version of that in a PowerPoint slide of these Excel spreadsheets that we’ve got here, and then that’s how we produce and it looks like this. You have a reporting tool to do that. Yeah, but you know, it doesn’t really meet our needs and without understanding what people currently experience and how they currently do things, it makes it almost impossible to actually define a great solution that will solve the pin points that they have currently. So, yeah, understanding current state is really, really vital, not current reported, but actually lived current state. [00:25:42] David: And, actually raising something that we touched on yesterday about the importance of, particularly the people who are doing this, the leaders and the managers of having a critical friend and where that critical friend comes from. So we talked yesterday about this whole idea of outside as an insider, so consultants and [00:26:00] internal consultants, and that they’re seeing different things from different perspectives and having a mix of those, being able to kind of, people who are able to stand back a bit and have a different kind of view on things in order to bring us new data about the situation, about the way they are seeing things and that logical way of looking at things is, you know, if I was an alien, I just landed, you know, what would I be thinking about what’s going on in here with as few as possible preconditions and assumptions. [00:26:28] Melanie: Well, quite often we operate on autopilot too. And we’ve been, yeah, we’ve become institutionalised with what we experience every day. So quite often we’ll just do things because it’s how it’s always been done, and that’s not until somebody says, well, what happens if you stop doing that? That they go, I don’t know, can we experiment? Can we experiment in not doing that? I spoke to somebody a couple of weeks ago and they were telling me that to do like a ministerial brief, it required six days worth of approval time, like six days, like for [00:27:00]executive approval, that’s insane. How long do you get to write it? My God, if we’re lucky we get half a day. Oh, you get half a day, as a subject matter expert to pull together all the information that you need to write a really good, solid brief, that’s going to be used for a decision by a minister somewhere, and you’ve been given half a day to write it, but yet the non subject matter experts have six days of approval for that. You know, and it wasn’t until being an alien, looking on the outside, I didn’t know I was asking these questions and they go, yeah, it is a bit dumb. Isn’t it? Okay. Well, how can we change that so that people can save it, that is as ridiculous as it sounds, it’s not working for anybody. And if you could change the process and redesign it yourself, how would you redesign it? And straight away, they came up with the redesign of it, and that was the thing that they were then going to implement, and it was a hell of a lot easier. It didn’t take that crazy amount of time, and it got a better product because quality was at [00:28:00] the beginning, not trying to be smushed in and rammed through at the end, by people who really it’s not their job to do. [00:28:06] David: Yeah, it’s interesting. Isn’t it? Because in organisations, infact you used a phrase yesterday, in the first podcast about having a torch and shining a light in the corners that people aren’t looking at, because it’s full of dust and how important that is, and we had a, so, my background, so I was in the army first and then the police, I was in the army in the seventies in Northern Ireland. And then in the police and we as a result of a whole series of disturbances that happened in the UK in the very early eighties, series of riots, minor strikes and things like that. I was involved with a team who were really reconfiguring the command structure for large scale disruptive events like riots and things like that. One of the things that we realised was that, obviously the commanders are senior ranked, you know, police officers, their chief constable’s, deputy chief constable, superintendents, and people like that. Probably the best decision that was made was to [00:29:00] give them what we call tactical advisors so that they had somebody, so they had a firearms officer who was an experienced firearms officer, they had somebody who was a public order trainer. So there was a series of people who had very no rank compared to the senior managers, but were there to act as a critical friend and to say, hang on a minute, you know, have you thought about this, or look, there’s a strategy here that might help and having these, what the police referred to as tactical advisors. And I think that is, you know, it’s both the critical friend and having the critical threat friend from a range of different areas of expertise that can really help leaders in something as complex as a digital transformation. [00:29:43] Melanie: Yes. Yes. Where you are determines what you see and the higher you go, the less, because by the time that that Intel gets to you, it’s been so filtered, re manipulated, reworked that you’re just not going to get the full picture anymore, you’ll get that water [00:30:00] down version. And, even if you are taught you’ve, even if you’ve got a really great process around, you know, risks, issues, consequences, and how you mitigate those. You still going to be quite far removed from the actual impact of what that’s like, and it can be very easy to dismiss things that are so obvious on the ground because at the top, well, you know, you’re not getting that views. So definitely where you are determines what you’re saying, then, being open to that and being willing to accept, that’s a real strength of leadership right there, because you recognize that you don’t have all the answers, and in fact, if you’re making some of those tactical decisions at the senior level, well, you’ve just put yourself into the bucket of becoming the micromanager from hell. [00:30:46] David: Yeah. And you’re better positioning yourself as a learner than the person who has all the answers, because eventually you’re going to come and stuck, because none of us have all the answers. This has been brilliant. Thank you, Melanie. What we’re going to do tomorrow [00:31:00]is have a look at the success factors for digital transformation and some of the research around that. And we’ll see you in that podcast. [00:31:08] Melanie: Thanks. See you then.
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