Why Companies Struggle With Change
Why is change so difficult? If you ask me, the SharePoint story within the enterprise is a great example of how many organizations struggle with change. The challenge for most companies is finding a balance between flexibility (giving end users the features they want, through the devices they choose) and control (auditing, compliance, and governance).
Having a strategy in place for a rapidly evolving collaboration platform is just one piece of your plan for organizational transformation. Your strategy should include details on how to better align your technology with your business processes, how teams will access and use the tools, the lifecycles of critical content and how they are stored as your content volume grows — among other considerations. You’ll need governance policies in place (the boundaries of your system), as well as the tools and processes to manage expected (and unexpected) changes.
Look For Small Wins
In my experience, successful business transformations tend to come through a series of small wins, or pilot activities, which can be expanded as milestones are reached and your leadership team is convinced of the business value of the transformation.
Your plans must also account for all of the features and capabilities that Microsoft is releasing on a regular (evergreen!) basis. These days, that can be a tall order – innovation is coming out of Redmond at break-neck speeds, and even within the MVP community, keeping up with the pace of innovation can be challenging. On top of these Microsoft offerings, end users are also demanding IT support for third-party solutions and services, most of which can be purchased and integrated with your other enterprise applications outside of the purview of your IT team. There is much to consider.
Culture Drives Change
With organizations now more broadly recognizing collaboration as a business necessity, stakeholders are looking beyond simple adoption metrics (how many users log into the platform each month) and more closely at how their teams are using the platform – and more importantly, where they are going around the platform to get work done.
Much of what is driving the push toward the digital workplace comes down to two factors: First, the advance of technology (artificial intelligence, bots and connectors for automation, virtual and augmented reality, machine-learning and other graph-powered search and discovery capabilities). Second, due to this pace of innovation, the growing end user adoption gap caused by frustratingly slow responses to change requests to increasingly outdated platforms and solutions.
People need to get their work done. While a healthy portion of information workers love to keep up with the technology, my experience has shown that most people are happy to stick with “old” technology if it is the best solution for the job to be done. There is certainly a good deal of new tech that brings very little, if any, incremental value to the business. Within the collaboration space, however, the new is leaps and bounds beyond what was new even two or three years ago, and organizations who fail to keep up with the pace of innovation will find themselves with a distinct competitive disadvantage.
Changing Your Culture
If your organization has historically been slow to respond to end user requests — from improvements to search, to the rapid deployment of new site structures to meet growing business needs — individuals will look elsewhere for the answers.
While this push by end users to bring in the latest consumer-focused productivity solutions may appear to move your organization more quickly toward a digital workplace, the opposite may actually be true. Without the support of IT and management, any misstep or breach will be greatly amplified.
To some degree, the rise in collaboration over the past decade has had more to do with failed governance and change management practices — and poor alignment of technology to business processes — than it has to do with functionality improvements. By revamping your overall collaboration strategy, with a focus on governance and change management, increasing the responsiveness of IT organizations and working in partnership with end users, you will build a path forward toward your digital workplace vision and goals.
Overall, the path toward a truly digital workplace should be thoughtful, intentional and managed. To do that, you are going to need people within your organization who can temper the demands of end users, while driving the priorities of IT and management.