How to handle detractors to digital transformation

Handling detractors
It takes a lot of effort to align an organization to a digital strategy and digital transformation program. They are disruptive programs that aim to drive growth through new products and customer experiences and not everyone in the front office is going to want a new direction. They also require changes to the underlying business processes by advancing customer service capabilities, automation, and data intelligence. If you're a manager overseeing a large operation that's about to shrink because of automation, you're unlikely going to be a happy participant.

There's a lot of good advice out there to handle detractors in change management programs. 

Start with the champions - "My advice is to forget about the Antagonists at first and to put the initial focus on your Champions. Because if you start where you already have a strong base of support, your Champions will spread that message throughout their vast networks, building the strong platform you need." - Mark Murphy, In Change Management, Start With Champions, Not Antagonists

Respond to conflict to drive transformation - "For collaboration to occur, there needs to be conflict. Great collaboration can get heated. To an outsider, it sometimes resembles hostility or anger, but when we look more closely it is neither. Without collaboration, our ability to create transformative change is limited." - Doug Moran, Don't Mistake Cooperation for Collaboration

Leverage agile practices to drive collaboration, supporters and incremental wins - "If you want big impact from data science and big data, then think of demonstrating wins incrementally. - Isaac Sacolick, Why Agile Data Science Practices Drive Big Data Impact

Communicate and celebrate small wins - "Meaningful organizational change often takes years, yet most people lose interest in an initiative after a few weeks or months. Be prepared for this, and bolster excitement and commitment by continuously rewarding the accomplishment of shorter-term goals." - Alexandra Levit, 10 Ways NOT to Do Change Management

Change management takes preparation and time - "We’ve heard the adage that for successful end user adoption and engagement of a solution, we can’t “communicate on Monday, train on Tuesday, and go live on Wednesday.” For an implementation to be successful, particularly one that requires stakeholder behavioral change, a key component is time, both collectively and individually, for the pending changes. Each person has to make the decision to change, and ultimately go along with (adopt) a new way of working independently, and this is not an overnight process." - David Chapman, The Grass is Greener

Slowly add participants to your transformation program - "The leading analytics-driven organizations not only have more employees involved in data and analytics, but they are also more informal about involving them, and worry less about segmenting teams. This more informal approach may be the key to success." - EY, Change management for analytics success

Stay focused and win change without them - "Be secure in the knowledge that you are doing something good. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do. You can’t win them over, you can’t avoid them, you can’t laugh with them. So you have to just ignore them, and keep telling yourself that when you do achieve your goal, that will be your reward for enduring this detractor." - Leo Babauta Best 8 Ways to Deal with Detractors

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About Isaac Sacolick

Isaac Sacolick is President of StarCIO, a technology leadership company that guides organizations on building digital transformation core competencies. He is the author of Digital Trailblazer and the Amazon bestseller Driving Digital and speaks about agile planning, devops, data science, product management, and other digital transformation best practices. Sacolick is a recognized top social CIO, a digital transformation influencer, and has over 900 articles published at InfoWorld,, his blog Social, Agile, and Transformation, and other sites. You can find him sharing new insights @NYIke on Twitter, his Driving Digital Standup YouTube channel, or during the Coffee with Digital Trailblazers.