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3 Strategies for Leading in the Digital Age

By Sue Wigston on March 12, 2019

Advancements in the digital age have changed the way businesses operate. Internal communication platforms enable remote work environments, modern website features empower customers, and advanced software streamlines processes and connects teams. All of these changes can be quite positive for customers, employees, and organizations, but implementing them often comes with some growing pains.

As a result, many well-established businesses are faced with adapting existing systems to accommodate the ever-changing digital landscape. This requires a change management strategy that goes beyond just the technical details. Leadership must also understand how adopting new processes can keep organizations competitive. In addition to training the technical skills, companies must provide training programs that address the competencies necessary for leading through change, adapting to new processes, and identifying the digital strategies that will best support organizational goals. This three-pronged approach encompasses strategies to address the people in your organization, the processes you employ, and the technology you need to succeed.

1. People strategy

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the technical details of digital transformations. What features do we need? What are the associated costs? What is the timeline for implementation? These are all questions that must be answered as new technologies are introduced.

However, one thing that hasn’t changed with the evolution of technology is that people are the most essential factor. Getting them to enthusiastically adopt a new system, learn the necessary skills to use it, and continue to adapt as the technology changes is not always a simple proposition, and having the right strategy in place is essential. According to a PwC report, “People are the main success factor in digital transformation projects, and many organizations are providing digital skills training today to prepare their people for the future.”

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In addition to digital skills training, it’s important to successfully prepare people for change. This might require leadership training so that executives and managers have the right skills to communicate why the transition is happening, the benefits that individuals and teams will see, and how it will happen. Measuring and reporting successes throughout the transition will also help keep people motivated and prevent them from reverting to old habits.

2. Process strategy

Leadership must evaluate current organizational processes and determine if there are new processes that should be implemented to help the company achieve excellence. Just adding new technology doesn’t always make a process better or more efficient. In fact, it could actually decrease efficiency if existing processes aren’t taken into consideration. Although it might seem easiest to just tack on new processes to the existing ones, sometimes a deeper overhaul is required.

This requires an evaluation of the current processes to determine what is working well, what could be improved, and how digital assets can help. When embarking on a digital transformation, whether it’s changing the way you do timesheets or introducing new company-wide enterprise software, leadership must zoom out to look at the bigger picture when creating a process strategy.

3. Technology strategy

People and process are critical to the success of any type of transformation, but when it’s a digital one, the technology cannot be ignored. Leadership must harness technology to meet the needs of their people in order to help them be successful. Of course, this requires first understanding the needs of individuals and teams and then identifying the digital tools that will best support them.

Soliciting feedback to determine what people need is a good first step, but the interaction can’t stop there. Involving team members throughout the digital decision-making process will help ensure buy-in and get people excited about transitioning to new systems. When developing a technology strategy, don’t just plan for the immediate future. Think about what you might need in the longer term to stay competitive and build in mechanisms to stay flexible as new technology emerges.

Conclusion

New technologies are essential if companies want to stay competitive in the modern world. Digital tools can help maintain customer loyalty, attract new talent to the organization, and spark innovation. However, technology cannot be viewed in a vacuum. You must also consider the processes that surround the technology and the people who execute those processes. Developing and implementing a training and development program is a key part of the equation. In addition to teaching the digital skills necessary to transition to new systems, training can also enable leaders to better lead through a digital transformation and give employees the necessary skills for managing processes.

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As Chief Operating Officer, Sue's extensive senior leadership experience and facilitation skills have established her as a trusted partner and organizational development expert. She has a proven track record of successfully leading culture transformation in Fortune 500 companies and has established herself as an authority on training and development. Sue has over 20 years of experience in the creation and delivery of programs and custom designed solutions for Eagle's Flight.

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Founded in 1988, Eagle's Flight has earned its reputation as a global leader in the development and delivery of business-relevant, experiential learning programs that achieve specific training objectives and lasting behavior changes.

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