Q: How would you know that politics are being managed well enough not to impact the success of the program, apart from just measuring the digital transformation KPI’s?
J: Stories beat numbers.
“So many questions, so little time!” This series of posts is based on the questions I had no time to answer after my MITSloan Management Review Webinar in July 2018: Don’t Let Politics Back Your Digital Initiatives. I suggest you first check out the slides I used in order to understand the context for the questions in this series. Or you can listen to the webinar ($).
One of my old clients, a relentless innovator, told me over 20 years ago that there are only 3 reasons to do something new. The new “thing” must either let people (1) work faster, (2) better or (3) do things they could not do previously.
In my experience I have found that real life stories that people share with each other about new ways of working are more powerful than numbers. KPIs are usually based on numbers. ROI is too often only seen as a financial term. We forget what these abbreviations mean. ROI means return on investment, and KPI means key performance indicators. When you say the full term out loud, you realize that neither one automatically means financial or quantitative measurement.
Look for stories about cross-silo sharing
So in answer to your questions, you’ll know politics are being managed well enough when you see that information is flowing horizontally across the organization. The horizontal flows are always the last to happen because they go across organizational silos. They fall into to “do things better” or “do things that could not be done previously”.
You’ll start hearing stories about how people help each other even though they have never met in person. People find others with expertise to help solve a problem that’s been bugging them. People create spontaneous, temporary trouble-shooting teams overnight with experts across the organization to solve a client problem.
These kinds of stories show that you have indeed achieved success with your program, but of course it’s a non-ending road. The more you share these stories with the whole organization, the more likely benefits from your transformation program will snowball and spread rapidly through the organization.