Digital transformation projects happen nearly constantly at many companies, and many take on several change projects at one time. According to the Harvard Business 2018 State of Leadership Development Report, “ …nearly 87 percent of 700 participating global business and learning and development (L&D) leaders said that their organizations were either in the middle of a major transformation effort or had completed one in the past three years to address a priority strategy shift.” While investing in new technology and giving employees the best tools to successfully do their jobs is important, the strategy behind these changes is even more critical.
In order to ensure an impactful digital transformation and implement a strategic plan that everyone is on board with, the first step is for leadership to understand the strategy and be committed to following it. These steps encourage being a positive change leader. Following this foundation, executives can successfully educate staff on the strategic plan. Finally, management and their staff can work together to execute the strategy and make a positive shift at the company.
Getting leadership to align on strategy can be met with potential roadblocks. A report from Harvard Business entitled “Why Strategic Alignment Matters – And How to Achieve It” found that the biggest reason leadership is not aligned on strategy is that there is no sense of ownership or responsibility of the digital transformation project. This lack of ownership makes it difficult for employees to be motivated or know their role in the company, and creates confusion about the company’s direction. Additionally, this leads to management and staff not being on the same page or understanding the purpose behind their actions. A company-wide transformation cannot be successful without consensus about purpose and direction.
Leaders must decide on project ownership and establish that everyone at the organization understands the strategy. Executives should stress that a transformation project is likely going to have changes to the strategy along the way, and encourage staff to be flexible when working toward their common goal.
According to the Harvard Business report, characteristics of a successful strategic alignment include:
- Savvy use of learning technologies
- Exposure to cutting-edge thinking from external experts
- Exposure to inspiring stories from internal experts
- Leaders as teachers accelerate transformation
The benefits of being aligned on strategy include being able to do job functions more quickly and accurately and being adaptable to constant change. Having a team that is working toward a common goal and has a sense of purpose gives understanding to the company’s strategy and sets up the organization for success by uniting and educating your team.