New Report on Change Agents: the Unsung Heroes in Digital Transformation
According to Brian Solis, the real (often untold) stories about digital transformation are the human struggles “change agents” face as they try to modernize their organizations. There are always colleagues, managers and others who don’t get it. Solis – futurist, best-selling business-book author and principal analyst at Prophet’s Altimeter Group – has written a 29-page report that examines how the people behind digital transformation lead change from within their organizations. From the report’s executive summary:
In a world where digital technology is evolving faster than organizations can adapt, it’s no secret that companies are investing in digital transformation and corporate innovation. But who is leading the charge? Often, it’s the individuals who share a deep expertise and passion for digital. And while these “digital change agents” are striving to bring change from within their respective groupSolis says that “The Digital Change Agent’s Manifesto” is the result of more than five years of research and 30 interviews with those who have led digital transformation initiatives within some of the world’s most renowned brands, including Coca-Cola, Equifax, FCC, NFL, Samsung, Starbucks, and Visa, among many others.the organization, they aren’t necessarily seasoned or trained at navigating the cultural dynamics that drive change throughout an organization. With support and guidance from the C-Suite, change agents spread digital literacy, drive collaboration between silos, build internal bridges with executives, and help accelerate their organization’s progress across Altimeter’s “Six Stages of Digital Transformation.”
- Although digital transformation is one of the biggest trends in business today and companies are investing heavily in new technologies and innovations, many still do so as a grassroots effort driven by resourceful individuals – digital change agents – across the organization.
- Digital change agents are passionate about digital innovations and ardent believers in their potential to help the organization succeed – but they are sometimes reluctant to step into a leadership or change-management role.
- Change agents can rise from anywhere in the organization and often begin as digital advocates – employees who introduce or promote new digital ideas or products – and eventually progress to experienced transformers.
- To garner support across the organization, change agents quickly realize that they must acquire basic change-management skills if they are to secure cross-functional collaboration and leadership support.
- Change agents often take on informal functions – data gatherers and storytellers, influencers and case makers, relationship builders, and champion – to navigate the human aspects of change and digital transformation.
- When trying to rally support for digital transformation initiatives, change agents eventually learn to face detractors and manage behavioural challenges (ie, managing ego, bias, fear, and self-doubt) in others and themselves.
- Change agents should operate from a strategic manifesto to guide them in their digital transformation efforts, expedite change, and minimize complications and detractions:
- Embrace being a catalyst.
- Organize with other change agents.
- Learn to speak the language of the C-Suite.
- Make allies.
- Spread digital literacy.
- Create a digital transformation roadmap.
- Link digital transformation efforts to business and individuals’ goals.
- Set metrics and milestones.
- Democratize ideation.
- Capitalize on their own inherent “super powers.”
- Leaders should identify and publicly support change agents to make enterprise-wide digital transformation a mandate.
- Related: I recall Brian in action at an event in London in 2013 that I co-organised with Kerry Bridge, where he presented his latest (at that time) book, “What’s the Future of Business?” We recorded his keynote as a For Immediate Release podcast. 70 minutes of compelling insights. Worth a listen today.
First published as New Report on Change Agents: the Unsung Heroes in Digital Transformation on Neville Hobson