The engagement paradigm in digital transformation

What is the engagement paradigm in digital transformation? 

Digital transformation will look different for every company but in general terms, it is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers. The theory says that it translates into greater efficiencies, happier customers, and greater profits. In all the projects we have been involved in, this is true and therefore it is easy to assume an engagement paradigm where all stakeholders support it.

However, this can be a bad assumption to make and is where digital transformation can fail! If you don’t take all your stakeholders with you on the journey, you are likely to come up against resistance, a fundamental misunderstanding of the job and a failed implementation.

What are the assumptions of the engagement paradigm in digital transformation?

The engagement paradigm for digital transformation is all about partnership and it is based upon six essential assumptions:

1. When stakeholders know their voice counts, they become engaged.

Here stakeholders know their voice counts because they are actively involved in the debates that develop recommendations and courses of action. They can influence the decision-making process. When stakeholders know that their voices count, they invest time and energy to create a future together.

2. Collaboration occurs when stakeholders connect with one another.

Rather than a faceless stereotype (e.g., a manager, a consultant, a front-line doer, a customer persona), stakeholders become known to each other with issues and concerns that affect them personally. These connections evolve into understanding who the other stakeholders are, how they think, and what matters to them.

3. Envisioning a positive future encourages stakeholders to act.

Rather than fixing a problem just because someone says you have to, it’s better to envision a type of future stakeholders want to create so they become energised. I’m sure Elon Musk energises people at SpaceX with his mission statement ‘we want to enable people to live on other planets, specifically Mars’. That is more energising than saying ‘build me a rocket that I can reuse many times over' as stakeholders might say ‘what’s the point in that Elon, it’s too hard and anyway, what does that achieve other than make you richer?’

4. Democratic principles increase trust, commitment, and creativity.

Democratic principles can make a huge difference in organisations, helping to increase trust, commitment, and creativity. These principles include information sharing and the use of democratic voting procedures (e.g., surveys on proposed changes) to reach decisions.

5. Widening the circle of involvement from the start speeds up implementation.

This is important on two fronts. Firstly, it brings stakeholders together to create strategic initiatives that build ownership and commitment. Secondly, all those who have the relevant power and authority are involved so decisions can often be made in real-time, which speeds up the programme.

6. Involving the whole system produces creative, integrated solutions.

When the whole system is involved, you find emergent issues more quickly, uncover the unintended consequences of any changes before you execute them and determine better solutions for jobs to be done.

The best and the brightest minds can produce brilliant digital transformation strategies, but without an engaged organisation that is willing to implement them, these strategies are useless. When done properly, the engagement paradigm replaces apathy and resistance to digital transformation with energy and commitment to a new future:

  • All stakeholders grasp the issues, become aligned around a common purpose, and create new directions because they understand both the dangers and the opportunities.
  • Urgency and energy are produced to create a new future.
  • Free-flowing information and cooperation replace organisational silos because people are connected to the issues and to one another.
  • Creativity is sparked when stakeholders from all levels and functions, contribute to ideas.
  • Capacity for future change increases as stakeholders develop the skills and processes to meet not just the current challenges, but future challenges as well.

We hope you enjoyed reading this article and that it helps you take a Wyser approach to Digital Transformation with the right engagement paradigm.