Our client, an international company with more than 10 000 employees, was facing a great challenge: to excel in competition, they needed to carry out a major technological development project. The change would have tremendous impacts on organizational structures and everyday work. Some existing roles would disappear. Numerous new processes would be created.
As you can imagine, the first reaction of their employees was fear. However, from the very beginning, the upcoming change was communicated very honestly: On one hand, people were told that they needed to let go of some ways of working they were used to. On the other hand, people were shown all the new possibilities and career paths the change would offer them.
Can you guess what happened? We were delighted to see how fearful skeptics turned into enthusiastic advocates. Many people were even competing who would get to take part in the project.
So, what did this company do right?
Our client understood that even though the project was about taking a huge leap in business technology, they needed to put people in the center of the change project from the very beginning. In fact, all change initiatives – regardless of content– are fundamentally about the people. If your approach to change is not human-centric, you simply will not get the best benefits out of the project for your business.
A complete Way of Working model – with an in-built human-centric approach
During my 11 years at Sofigate, three cornerstones have always defined our work: people, practices and tools.
Today, as the pace of digitalization is accelerating, and companies are feeling overwhelmed with the endless possibilities of RPA and automation, it is important to have these cornerstones prioritized in the right order. Yes, companies do need to have the best tools and the finest proven practices – but the “people” aspect cannot come as a mere afterthought.
If you want proof of benefits, take a look at the most innovative companies in the world, such as Amazon. An openness to change and an appreciation of the human perspective are key elements in their strategy. That is why they can adapt and create new ideas so much faster than their competitors. And that is why they will still be blooming in 10 years – while some others have faded.
At Sofigate, we have worked very hard to create a complete Way of Working framework with an in-built human perspective. Based on years of cooperation with top Nordic companies and co-creations of best practices, our Way of Working is an umbrella model that enables IT to cooperate with business. This model aids IT to be part of business processes so that new technologies can provide real business advantage.
When designing operating models and implementing best practices and tools, it is important to initially understand what their impacts are on people and what kind of support they require when both adapting and embedding these new practices and tools into their daily jobs. Therefore, we put people in the center of change. We connect coaching and training activities as well as human-centric organizational change management actions to everything we do.
To sum up, here are my tips for any leader wanting to succeed in business transformation:
- Look at the big picture. Whatever the change is, you need to understand it from different perspectives: What is the impact on an individual level? What kind of competence and skills are required for this change? How does it affect the organizational structures? What about your governance model and leadership system? How about customers and the partner ecosystem?
- Place people in the center of change. In larger organizations, it is impossible to support the change on an individual level – there are simply too many individuals. However, it is possible to drive change in individuals as groups. When you consider the ’what’s in it for me’ aspect, you can make people feel that you address their needs as individuals.
- You do not need to reinvent the wheel or figure out the best methods from scratch by yourself. Our Way of Working model helps you consider all the necessary aspects. Based on our experience, we know how to develop the Business Technology capability and lead change successfully in practice on all levels.
About the author
Paula Salmi is the Head of Sofigate’s Way of Working practice. She has guided through several global and international transformation programs with significant change impact in the client organizations.