The shape of people in “Digital Transformation” projects

I must admit that working in digital transformation is very rewarding. You help companies grow making them evolution in many different ways. However, many people think that digital transformation is “just” applying tools and technology to the company. This is totally wrong. There is a miriad of things to review such as proceseses and people. This is where all the fun starts. Many companies think that all they have to do is to increase the technology they are using and the results will grow and be much better…WRONG!!!! I always say the same: if your process is junk and introduce technology, you will still obtain junk but at a faster rate.

This is the point where management start to think that there is something else to change, so they address the processes…but not sooner do they try to change them when another reality has to be faced: processes rely on people in many occasions. Trying to segregate processes from people, with all the changes needed, means that people also have to change. This is, by far, the most difficult part. Before addressing the “digital” part of “Digital Transformation”, “Transformation” and “People Transformation” needs to be tacled.

Every one is different and I am not talking physically, I am talking about mental difference. Culture, background, location, etc make us all differ and, in most occasions, add to the overall picture. Having different people with their points of view is what makes things progress…however, progression does not always come at the right pace from everyone. How open are people to changes and learning is what will make digital transformation projects shine and become a success…or fail miserably. These are “my kind of people”:

The “Circle” people

These are the easies people to work with. They may not have heard about digital transformation before and not sooner do you tell them about the project they are willing pick it up very quickly. All they need is a little push at the beginning and things will just be rolling without much help. Every now and then, maybe, you have to help them and with that little “push” they will continue rolling. Things will never be easier.

On the other hand, as much enthusiastic they may be they will also be demanding. You push them too hard and the will roll and roll, asking for more and more in a never ending process as they will pick your brain looking for more and more. Change is always good and positive as it will make you think and come out of your comfort zone.

The “Oval” people

“Oval” people are very similar to the “Circle” people except that they need a bit more coaching and attention. Not much, but still a bit more time has to be spent on them as they will roll almost as easily but stopping. They are also as enthusiastic and will move along, will pick your ideas and implement them, but will not take it any further. However, they will make sure whatever has to happen and needs to be implemented (whether are changes, processes or adoption of technology) will be in place.

On the other hand do not expect from them to go any further than what is expected, no additional ideas or inputs, just what needs to happen will happen (which is not bad after all). If I can not “have” Circle people will, at least, “survive” with the “Oval” people.


The “Square” people

You can not ask everybody to say yes at the first time you propose changes neither can you implement things with people straigh

away. There are people that you will not convince but will have to be pushing all the time They will ask all the time for the need to commit those changes, why they need to work in a different way, why the need to communicate, etc etc etc. These people will work with you but every time you move them the process will start again.

However, sometimes it happens that after giving them reasons and showing them that changes are good and how they can benefit from changes, “Square people” may change into “Oval” people or, in some cases, even to “Circle” people.

The “Triangle” people

And finally we meet, at last, the most difficult people to work with (by far). These are the people that will challengue you, your team, their bosses, their team and everybody they find. They make sure everyone around knows that they “dislike” the project and will try to stop it in every way they can. They will only work and commit to the changes they are forced and will never admit that the changes have facilitated and easy their lives as they wanted things done in a differente way: Their way or else.

These people will be the ones that will need more of your time and you will have to coach them and keep them by your side. As they say: keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer. You will have to spend 80% of the time with this people as they may derail any proposition and all their effort will be towards making sure your plan fails.

…and you, what “sort of people” are you? Keep in mind that people tend to behave the way they are led. If you are a “Digital Transformation” leader full of energy, ideas and very collaborative with one another people may behave like this by “simpathy” or “mimicry”. Believe it or not, it works.


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