Resistance to Digital Transformation!

The great majority of digital projects do not meet the expectations. That is because this arises from two main motivations. The first one is the wrong decisions that are made by the senior management as a result of incorrect evaluations during the decision process, and ineffective oversight activities during the implementation of projects. However, the second motivation, also subject of this article, is organizational resistance to projects.

Mid-level managers play an active role in the growth and maintenance of corporate culture in an enterprise. Contrary to supposed, these managers and other employees do not resist change, but they resist “Being changed into the unknown”.  Concepts such as change, innovation, and success belong to the learning and developing corporate atmosphere. If only the organization evolves and grows they can make out, their winnings increase, and they will not be on the hunt for another company. Why would anyone want to leave an environment, where they are respected? In the light of these facts, they support the change most sincerely that will be positive for them and the company.

The important thing is that they can feel the possible development with the change.

When a new project comes into question in an entity, employees ask at least two inquiries to themselves and their friends and search for answers.

The first one is ”How will be the process in company’s performance, personal reputation, and winnings with the change?’’

The second one is ”what vision determined for the environment, which they are in, and for the new project?.” This question means beyond the material elements involved in the above question. In which direction will the transform change the current reality they count as a nominal anchor to realize their visions. Will it help them stay loyal to their truth?

Mid-level managers are also among those who seek answers to these questions. If they are not satisfactorily informed and motivated by senior management, they will have negative feelings for themselves because of this situation. And they will engrain these feelings in their employees along with imperfect and twisted information about the project.

Let’s assume that the senior management has decided on a realistic, accurate, and value-creating digital project-with competent experts from inside and outside of the company- in compliance with the strategic objectives and resource structure of the enterprise. The realization of this decision will not be enough to achieve the expected success from the project. In addition to these, it is necessary to come together in a common vision for the project with the active participation of a small number of leader-minded employees- from technicians to foremen, from experts to managers in the entity-. Later on, it is essential to ensure that almost all employees accept and support the new change.

The senior management of the company represents the “consciousness” of an entity, and the elements that form the rest of human resources represent the “subconscious” of the entity. The conscious decisions such as ”I will enroll myself for a gym course on Monday and exercise regularly or learn Chinese”, which we have made personally, encounter our existing algorithm (habits) in our subconscious. However, this is not different for the companies.

In an enterprise, the senior management’s mentality of  “I am the decision-making body, and I made such a decision for the implementation of the project”, will not be enough for success. 

This question must be answered before making a decision: ”How can the corporate reflexes of the enterprise move in this project and what are needed for the project to be successful?”. Besides, the “ instincts ” of the organizational culture (corporate culture) are powerful; it brings a thought in the entity about whether the project will be successful or not. That can be supportive or about the resistance. If it is about resistance, the project’s fate will eventually be a ” self-fulfilling prophecy. “

Consequently, a healthy decision process is a very crucial part of digital projects. In addition to this, there is a process of internalizing and actively supporting the project by corporate culture stakeholders.

Digital transformation projects are not only digital; they support the humanistic approach at the highest level too. Otherwise, the limited resources of companies will continue to get into nothing!

A well Turkish proverb backs this situation: wasting the bulgur in the home while going to Dimyat for rice! (which mean is ”out of the frying pan and into the fire!”)

Bulent Hasanefendioglu

Head of Consultancy, TDG Global

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