3 Signs You Have Overloaded Your Digital Transformation Program

Pressure to take on too many initiatives may bottleneck the overall program and burnout participants

I am an advocate for speed and doing more. I’ve seen products, businesses, and an entire business models fall off the cliff because executives were too slow to respond, experiment, invest, challenge sacred cows, and scale toward new digital business models. So, when presented with the opportunity to lead transformation programs, I would rather say yes to new initiatives especially when they deliver improved customer experiences, grow revenue, improve analytics, or are likely to replace an existing legacy revenue stream.

I often get asked, “How much is too much” and its corollary question, “Can the team take on one more important initiative?” The core of these questions is whether you are pushing leaders and the team too hard and overloading them with too many initiatives.

I have a method that helps address these questions outlined in my book, Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation Through Technology. It involves understanding how to effectively plan projects, what type of team structure enables you to scale and add people when required, and how to manage the impact to end users (both customers and employees) as the initiative delivers changes. It would require too much detail to share in a blog post.

But what I can provide are some of the symptoms and indicators of when an organization, a team, or a person is overloaded. My focus is at an organizational level, but since people have different productivity levels and abilities to handle stress you also should consider the impact on individuals. For this, review other articles to help individuals such as signs that employees are suffering from stress and helping a coworker that is stressed out.

Signs of Overload

So here are signs that you can observe and even measure at the organizational level indicating that the team may be overloaded  

1. Lots of great ideas, few are being implemented 

This can happen for a few different reasons especially if you don’t have a defined process to plan initiatives or if your innovators are on the hook to plan too many of them. This is a problem that’s easy to measure and harder to solve. Start by looking at who is leading or has a significant role in each of your initiatives and you are likely to find several innovators assigned to too many programs. Everyone has their limits on how much multitasking they can handle and how much they can get pulled in different directions. Even with some simple guidelines, your initiative to resource mapping should give you clues where you have taxed key people.

You will also find initiatives that are under resourced and making progress at a glacial pace. You can use this resource and initiative mapping and if an initiative is under resourced at the leadership level then it's less likely to make consistent progress.

2. You are spending more time communicating than getting things done 

The more independent things you are trying to plan and execute on, the more communications are required. If you feel like key members of the team are spending a lot of time and energy getting on the same page, aligning on priorities, achieving consensus on solutions, or reporting on status then it’s likely that they are overloaded. Collaboration tools can improve the productivity around communications, but if innovators are context switching too much then it's difficult for them to get the things they committed to done.

3. Users are slow to adopt, and many are not happy 

Changing workflows, behaviors, mindset, and culture often happens over longer timescales than the time it takes to introduce new capabilities. If you're introducing new capabilities to multiple organizations such as sales, marketing, and operations then you must schedule them around their peak periods of activity and gauge how much change they can manage. Transformation programs often require leaders to push organizations to learn and adopt new practices quickly, but pushing too hard can easily overwhelm a group.

How you handle this depends on many factors. Most important is too identify key people in these organizations from leaders down to entry level employees that are "early adopters" of new capabilities, are in tune with their organization's pulse, and are prepared to give you honest feedback. Since they are early adopters, they are likely to give you practical feedback on the capability you are introducing. If they are equally in tune with their organization, then they will balance this out with insights on the success and roadblocks getting mainstream adoption across the organization.

Leaders Must Drive the Urgency

If you're trying to move your organization smarter and faster, then employees must hear this message repetitively. More specifically, they must understand why the urgency and how going too slow impacts customers, employees, and them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments on this blog are moderated and we do not accept comments that have links to other websites.