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Conversation: more people should try it.

Scrambled conversation

It’s no surprise that IT Delivery Managers believe their businesses will change more in the next five years than in the past five. It’s also not surprising that in many cases there is a disparity between what ‘the business’ is expecting from digital transformation and what the IT department believes can actually be achieved.

Nine out of ten ITDMs surveyed in a recent report* said they were undertaking initiatives that would ‘digitally transform’ their organisations in areas such as improving business processes, creating great customer experiences, and increasing workforce productivity. The challenge, however, is that those same IT managers thought they would not be able to meet the delivery timescales expected by the businesses they serve. Last year, only half were able to deliver on time those projects scheduled for completion and gave lack of resources and time constraints as reasons for this failure to implement.

Perhaps more significant is that almost 70% of the IT Delivery Managers surveyed said there was a disparity between what business executives were demanding to be achieved from a digital initiative and what actually can be accomplished.

So a key issue is often poor communication around expectations and capabilities between the ‘customer side’ and the ‘supplier side’; be that internal or outsourced. Much of that poor communication arises from work patterns that don’t coincide and, when they do, from the lack of a common vocabulary to allow full and frank discussion of requirements, expectations and responsibilities. The main issue is that in many cases there is no clear shared understanding of the narrative across the business and little in the way of effective dialogue around partnership within that narrative.

Surprising, though it may seem, this is an area where many businesses are now reassessing the skills and behaviours of their staff and the frameworks that support managers and teams. Coaching – for individuals and for teams – in how to listen, how to have productive and mutually successful conservations, and how to build that into ways of working – is an increasingly important area for businesses to invest. When issues are complex, and there are multiple parties involved, it is critical to recognise that it is not sufficient to rely on natural ability or innate goodwill. Uncovering values, beliefs and attitudes and building trust and confidence are core to effective cooperation between different disciplines. Setting these in the context of overall company goals and strategies, and helping individuals identify their role within those, is greatly empowering for all employees.

Getting on the same page is an often quoted goal for major IT projects but rarely achieved; the failure to do so is impacting the ability to leverage the opportunities presented by new digital technology and practices.

Perhaps the best way to affect successful digital transformation is to relearn the art of analogue conversation?

*Mulesoft, Connectivity Benchmark Report, January 2017

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