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Driving Change by Metrics

Posted in Change management, Digital transformation, and Leadership

Leading an extensive digital transformation program is hardly a sprint. Going long-distance and creating change which will eventually get incorporated into the organizational culture feels a lot more like an ultra-marathon.

There are countless possibilities to mess up your transformation program, and a number of pitfalls to avoid and look out for. I covered two of the biggest ones – the lack of compelling vision and communication missing in action in my previous post on Driving Change throughout the Organization.

Our primary job as change leaders is to remove obstacles impeding change. You might experience the “elephant in the room” effect, some imaginary, others very real but organizations too, much like people need help in understanding their new roles and possibilities in the changed situation. Most importantly, all layers of the organization needs encouraging to take action. But what does it take for us to choose to do different today than yesterday?

What I have found as one of the most difficult obstacles to tackle has not so much to do with vision or action plans themselves but the follow-up. It becomes problematic if company structure or incentive plan still supports the old way of working instead of reflecting the new pursued view of the future.

What are your odds?

What are the odds of your transformation program’s success if you have created a new strategy and changed processes, amplified product portfolio and aligned the organization to better support the new strategy but have left your business management, strategic or operational metrics untouched? If there is only one thing I wish you to remember from reading this post, it is this: If you wish to change behavior, you need to change what you are measuring. Period.

Here is an example to drive this logic home. Organizations don’t (usually) just aimlessly drive for revenue. The expected revenue is aligned with the overall business goals of the company. If you are, for example looking to expand your product portfolio into new strategic areas, in this case your questions to sales would sound a lot like these: Are we selling the entire product line and investing enough time in selling the new products or are we just selling what we are comfortable with? How do we know? Are we growing in our target markets?

Take a guess what will happen if you would fail to align for example individual sales manager’s goals with the overall plan? The point is that you get what you measure and you only get what you measure.

Measuring for Success

Metrics for your transformation program are important for two separate reasons. One, you need to be able to communicate to your people that the actions you have taken are actually producing results.

Even though majority of your people may not be driven by numbers, they will still appreciate and actually, need, reinforcement of their changed behavior by demonstrations of successes. And how can you demonstrate success without having the proof? The metrics showing that things have actually changed into the direction we want them to change?

Second, you need metrics to trail which will help you adapt and adjust your action plans according to the results. For this reason, it is super important to record the baseline before initiating the change, otherwise you have little to compare against.

Although I do promote leading by metrics and data driven insights, I am not a huge fan of piling up metrics on top of metrics that provide no added value or reporting for the sake of reporting that has no value in steering the business into right direction.

When you start building your transformation roadmap, I advise you to incorporate and design metrics alongside designing the plan for change and spend some good time thinking how your new set of metrics / incentive plans / performance goals will help you drive for impact.

“Thank you for reading my post. I am a business development professional with a digital twist. If you are interested in reading more about digital transformation, read more here at inspiredbydigital or follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.”

Image: Unsplash / Dawid Malecki