Love as a Digital Transformation Strategy

EPISODE 3

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In this episode, we talk about digital transformation and what it really looks like for companies to go through. And of course, we ask: What role does LOVE play in a business’s digital transformation strategy?

While many companies are focusing on digital strategy, it’s more than just changing your process and tools. The real transformation centers around how your teams work with each other, and how people behave.

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Feel the love! We aren't experts - we're practitioners. With a passion that's a mix of equal parts strategy and love, we explore the human (and fun) side of work and business every week together.

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Jeff

Director

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MohProfile

Moh

President

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Frank

Director

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ChrisProfile

Chris

Vice President

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Jeff Ma
Hello and welcome to love as a business strategy is a podcast that brings humanity to the workplace. We're here to talk about business. And we want to tackle topics that most business leaders shy away from when we believe that humanity and love should be at the center of every successful business. I'm your host, Jeff Ma. I'm a director at soft way. It's an agency based out of Houston that specializes in digital transformation, culture, and branding. Now, each episode, we're going to be diving into one element of business or strategy and testing our theory against it. What does love play as a role in different elements of business and strategy and today, we want to talk about digital transformation. We want to talk about what it is what it looks like for companies to go through and of course, fill in the blank of what does love play as a role within it? So, with me, I have some usual suspects. First of all we have Frank Danna Frank, welcome to the show again. I'm curious what are what are you watching on Netflix right now? What's, what's your favorite show?

Frank Danna
So right now it's it's gotta be while I'm rewatching watchmen. So it's not a Netflix show. It's HBO show, but I'm telling you, it is one of the best shows in the past decade. And the last kingdom is really good. It's really fun. It's like, every episode is the equivalent of an entire season of Game of Thrones. I'm not even kidding. It's like how did all that stuff just happened with one episode? Isn't the two that I'm watching right now and that the floor is lava,

Jeff Ma
or any of those on floors novels on Netflix

Frank Danna
floor vlog, Slava and the last kingdom. Those are both on Netflix.

Jeff Ma
Thank you. For one show, but I'll take that's fine. Okay, and we also have Mohammed Anwar our presidency. Oh, how are you Mohammed

Unknown Speaker
doing very good. Jeff, thank you for asking.

Jeff Ma
Yeah. So I wrote a question down here for you. What kind of music do you listen to while you work out? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker
So it depends. It depends on on the type of workout I'm doing. So usually it's EDM. Sure, for most. You know, I usually try to do high intensity workouts and however the intervals and I like the EDM music.

Jeff Ma
Sure. So I guess that's what you want to tell people. But one time we were working out and his music ended up playing on the speakers. And it was it was some slow jams. Right. It was what was it, Frank?

Frank Danna
You remember, it was it was like, it was some 90s it was close to pop.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, it was Enya or something I don't. It was a guy. I was hoping he'd share it publicly, but apparently he's somewhat embarrassed by it. So we'll move on. So back to our topic, we want to talk about digital transformation. I think a great place to start is to level set real quick for our audience. What is digital transformation? Mo? I'm gonna turn that over to you. Can you give us a textbook definition of digital transformation?

Unknown Speaker
Sure. It's when organizations use technology process and people as a system and look at improving business outcomes and business performance, they look at radically rethinking how you approach technology process and people as components of your strategy to increase business outcomes. Now, in a, in a in a more easily relatable sense. For you, definition was textbook. Yes, right in in normal terms, It's how organizations are adapting to use technology and different ways of working and producing new forms of interaction for customers and are getting results for your customers are changing how certain services are rendered or products are received down to like how you might order food to drive through now with using digital platforms through your phone or coming down to how your doctor's visit the hospital is now all electronic. And you get to fill out all of this stuff on an iPad and the doctor uses a computer to look up your patient information history and use all of that to submit a prescription to your pharmacy. Like all of those

Unknown Speaker
on a clipboard and a pen.

Unknown Speaker
Right so all the examples Yeah, other than an example of some simple examples of what the you know what it results in how digital transformation can help result in those experiences for the consumers or your employees that changes the way they work and become more efficient and improve your business performance and improve outcomes. So that's essentially what digital transformation is. We see it over here.

Frank Danna
Yeah. Anybody here fans remotely? I mean, oh, like I'm a do you say, of course, under your brush? Yeah, of course, of course. So something I was I was looking at is, you know, AAA is heavily invested in their mobile app. And about two or three years ago, it was not a very easy to use system. Mobile ordering was just not part of the deal. And then they really invested in digital transformation and making sure that their mobile ordering was like up to par. Right. So then the pandemic hits. The lockdown happens in March, and their digital sales grew more than 102% in the month of March. So what we're seeing is that customers were sheltering in place, but they were still working. During those delicious burritos for delivery and for pickup, and so they were able to transform themselves, they were able to reimagine their business in the digital age. And, you know, catapult themselves to success even in the midst of a pandemic. So that's the type of thing that digital transformation can actually bring to even an end user, a consumer of Berea got it.

Jeff Ma
But so it can be broadly defined, and it can be different for every company. But there's this element of reimagining and redefining your offerings, your your products, and the way you work as well. So you know, according to Forbes, however, 84% of companies to attempt a digital transformation ultimately end up failing. So, I want to talk a little bit about that, you know, why do you guys think that is Muhammad? You want to start us off?

Unknown Speaker
Sure. So in the example that Frank gave, right, digital transformation is not just building the app. That allows you to order, you know to botley easier for consumers. There's a lot of things that go behind the scenes. Because there's a lot of workflows and process optimizations you have to tie into the mobile app so that you know it's going to the right restaurant. It's the people in the back of the kitchen are receiving the order details in a format that allows them to prioritize which orders to cook first or prepare first, down to how that app is created. Is it taken into consideration the user experience and the people lens, the customer lens? down to who's coming up with the ideas to do it? Are the people building the app connected to the business enough or is it just it trying to do it on their own? So there like a lot of factors that go into it from the technology side, the process side and then the people side, but for an organization to go on their digital transformation journey? A lot of the times that leads to failures inside of these organizations is that they invest or focus last on the people component of a digital transformation. Some of the top leading reasons for why digital transformations failed is for leadership, or lack of alignment between it and business are for employee engagement, down to poor communications. So when you look at all of these top reasons why digital transformations fail, it all attributes back to people from the

Jeff Ma
cult like culture, right?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, and people. What I'm saying is it starts from the system goes to people. And then from there, what we notice is that the reason that these things fail at the people level is because of the culture of the organization. And you take that a level deeper it comes down to behaviors of the people, starting with the leaders, people havior. And so, at a high level 84% of the digital transformations are failing out there, because the people issues and people problems. And in that whole ecosystem of technology process and people, the people component is what is leading to failure. However, what happens is organizations are investing more and more of their money and time on the technology side of the process site and investing the least amount into the people component of the digital transformation. Yeah, and so they're unable to focus on the foundations and get it set right to increase the chances of success. And we've seen this happen with many of the customers that we've dealt with. And that that that seems to be the highest attribution factors for why these organizations are failing with their digital transformation.

Frank Danna
I mean, so so like, let's talk about the 84% right. So what is the end result of failing in addition All transformation in these in these situations? What are some of those things that that you have seen? You know, as a result of what happens when a digital transformation fails?

Unknown Speaker
Sure. So, ultimately they come to the conclusion that, oh, it's people were the issue, people are the problem. And two leaders who are in the position of power will end up saying, Okay, so let's just change the people out. Let's just go ahead and reorg the business. Let's change out the structure of the how people are organized since people's problem. And they still go to process of like, oh, if people are listening the process around people, but they don't look at the real root cause, which is stemming from behaviors and mindsets. And remember, I said the number one reason why digital transformations fail is because of poor leadership. And when you look at leaders of a lot of these organizations, the large corporations a lot of the leaders leaders have grown in the ranks of their hierarchical organization, through behaviors and mindsets that were indeed got them success in those old ways of doing work. Right. And in a digital transforming world, the old ways of hierarchy and structure are not going to be conducive for digital transformation. So when you have leaders who have reached success, and they have climbed the ladders in their organization through behaviors that were successful back then, and they try to apply the same mindsets and philosophies to a digital transformation, it doesn't go hand in hand, and they're unable to succeed with the same practices that they had before. So ultimately, it must start with the leaders changing their behaviors, right? So that's how we bring it back to the behavior that ultimately leads to better culture. That culture then enables the teams and the people to be higher performing. And when they are able to be higher performing in that right conducive environment, they then make better decisions on processes. And then they are able to bring better innovation and ideas to technology because they are not operating under constant fear. Fear of repercussion, a fear of failure, are they're not afraid to speak up. They're not afraid to bring their ideas forth without being embarrassed

Jeff Ma
and had to be a guy who had a leader that was comfortable enough to be bring that burrito button idea to him, you know, like he was like, let's make a burrito button. And you have to have a leader that's willing to like hear that and not freak out.

Unknown Speaker
Exactly, exactly. And that's why leaders and their behaviors are at the core of why a lot of these issues transformations fail.

Frank Danna
And I was just thinking about, like, what we've seen what we've experienced with our clients as well. As you know, we've seen multiple iterations of digital transformations that have failed over the course of time. And what you were talking about just now also connects to that because it creates a fear of failure, it creates a fear of innovation. We messed up. So now we reorg we move people, we shift people around because people were the problem. And then people see that and they go, we don't want to be a part of this. So we're going to slow down our innovation, we're going to reduce the risk and what that ends up doing is reducing your competitive advantage. And so with these, these organizations that were top of their game, world class are now slowly falling in the ranks and are no no longer able to lead an industry. Because of these, these, this consistent failure in this space, and not learning from that failure not growing from it as a result of digital transformations. But instead of reducing risk and reduce opportunity to grow. And with that, that mindset, it's not conducive to having any sort of competitive advantage.

Unknown Speaker
Yep, absolutely. And again, bringing it back to the the three components of digital transformation, which is, you know, technology process and people, what happens is when you look at the behaviors of the leaders growing in a traditional hierarchical organization, if they are unable to trust their people, and you can see that reflected in the processes that are defined, you know, in a digital transformation center, your your optimizing processes for efficiency, but what happens is, if the people are starting from a lens of, you know, lack of trust or lack of environment, then you'll see all of the processes that they will introduce, will be to verify, to have increased bureaucracy to have increased reviews and steps for approvals, and they'll just automate that. The whole thing, they'll just make it instead of paper, they'll bring it into a website or an application. So it's digital, but it's really not optimizing the process. It's not bringing not efficiency because their mindsets and their behaviors that are still playing them from their past success is applied in this digital transformation in terms of process, then you look at the teams, because the teams have constantly have to justify why they made a mistake and how they've been penalized or have had punitive, or, you know, reaction to their mistakes or failures leads the teams to be far more conservative and risk averse. So what are they going to do? They're going to be afraid to bring that next burrito button idea forward because they're afraid what if my boss doesn't like this, and so they don't bring good ideas. They are not able to unlock innovation. fuel that innovation because they're stemming from fear and they are more risk averse. And so they end up creating poor technology. Two sets out there. And with the combination of that you're really not, you know, succeeding with the outcomes you originally set out to achieve with your digital transformation strategy.

Jeff Ma
And the world would be denied a one touch burrito access. Oh my gosh,

Unknown Speaker
that's the drive, which would be

Jeff Ma
terrible. Let me let me bring this around a little bit. If we understand the problems that read these face, what is the solution? Like what what are we supposed to be doing to make dessert? How do we not be that 84%

Unknown Speaker
love for you on if you want to take a jab at that one.

Frank Danna
No, I want you to take a jab at it.

Unknown Speaker
Now, seriously, you

Jeff Ma
I think there's a lot to unpack on this right. Yeah. So You got to start, we gotta start somewhere. Frank, you wanna start with love you? I think I think I think love is going to be a punch line in this podcast time and time again. But let's start with it.

Frank Danna
So how does love actually factor into something like digital transformation? Well, Mohammed's just laid it out for us if we have a culture that's built around behaviors that create trust, that create opportunities for feedback and innovation, where you're giving real empowerment to teams. I mean, that's when we say love is a business strategy. What we're talking about is all of those components that factor into love. It's a word that emphasizes action, right? And so, love can play a big role. Because when you're giving empowerment to people, when you're allowing people to innovate, without risk of failure, when you're truly caring for people's well beings, and you're giving that trust over to them. That's ultimately when you're going to see progress and innovation and change that's positive, right. So when we say love, that's really what we're trying to tell about is that care, that compassion, that trust, the ability to have real relationships and feedback, all of those things are built into what can actually make a digital transformation succeed in the workplace.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, I think I think this is this could be some people's first episode. So love lovers. You know, love is in the title here and it's worth redefining each time we talk about it. And you know, love love in this context. It's important to remember that love is a feeling, but it's also an action. And I think that that that act of love around the workplace, and not in that lovey dovey, cushy kind of I love you, you know, emotional, purely emotional state, but love as in for humankind and decency and humanity is sometimes what we're talking about, about cheap, treating people like people goes a very long way to assist the culture that you need, right? The culture you need to actually succeed.

Frank Danna
Exactly.

Unknown Speaker
So many organizations Sure, yeah. So, so bringing it back to digital transformation. With those three, I would say the approach that we traditionally recommend or our customers to go in is to focus on the people strategy and not just seeing how people strategy but you know, truly having love at the core of your people strategy. And we start with the leadership, since the poor leadership is the number one cause for why digital transformation fails out there. We start with the leaders, and we focus on their behavior, change their mindset change, and shifting them to think more in terms of how do I serve my people in my teams, to allow them to be successful. And my job as a leader and the behaviors I must demonstrate with my team is to allow them to be successful and remove their blocks and impediments to go out and do what they need. do for us to succeed in the strategy. And so we start with leadership behavior transformation, that quickly translates into how do we now get the rest of the organization to model those same behaviors that leads to a cultural transformation. And then that cultural transformation enables higher performing teams and people operating at a higher capacity and bringing their passion to work. And that's a core requirement for your overarching digital transformation strategy. So we focus on the people component of digital transformation to start off, and we then give them all the tools and enable that organization to transform the culture and hopefully lead have the digital transformation lead from within the organization and lead by their own teams by their own people because you can't have Always an external consultant coming in to transform your organization, it has to come from within. And so if you invest into your people, and transforming the culture of it starting with leaders, you are able to successfully set the right foundations for a digital transformation. So that's how, that's how I would look at solving that problem. And I know many organizations have tried to do that they have the right idea. They know that they look at startups. They look at the startup culture on there, because today, digital transformation is not limited to just larger corporations. A lot of the disruptive technology that's coming out there is coming from startups. And when you look at it, it's because of their culture, that they're able to create this innovation and disruptive technologies. So a lot of larger organizations have tried to say, you know, embody, like, Hey, we're gonna bring a startup culture. We're going to create this new initiative and create pods you want To operate, like your startup, but then still bombard them with a whole bunch of bureaucracy on top of it, and ultimately lead them to no success.

Jeff Ma
I love that analogy. I love that analogy mode. Because, you know, digital, like a lot of startups in this digital age are just just born disruptive, right? Like they're just born, like, digitally transformed. And what people don't realize is that this is like a band, a small band of people who are essentially, like brothers and sisters in arms, like they've gone through war, because of the kind of the United Front they've had to face together. So they've been in the trenches. And you know, that like that kind of battle builds that true love and bond between each other. That's such a critical element of when you say, I want to start up mentality, you need to start a culture and that startup culture doesn't exist if you form people in a pod, and then put a manager above them that still has those expectations of a traditional hierarchy. I love that analogy because that's like literal proof that like love has the kind of beat foundation?

Unknown Speaker
Absolutely, absolutely. Like sometimes I say these organizations are better off creating a separate company or investing into a startup and letting them mature and then absorb that technology or innovation into the large corporation. They're better off doing that than trying to artificially create a startup culture inside of their organization only to see it fail. So it all starts those behaviors and leadership.

Frank Danna
It doesn't I mean, you know, again, pointing back to the actual relationships we have with our clients, we've seen this happen a few times. And the thing that we always ask is like, are you sure you want to say that you're willing to commit the time and energy to an actual startup culture? Right? Are you sure because the moment that which inevitably happens, the moment that you start to your your eyes start to wane, you start to look elsewhere. And some other thing becomes your priority as a manager, that individual or that group of people that you've said, Hey, I want you to be as innovative as possible. I want you to try and break away The rules, once, that's no longer the case, what is the outcome for that person? How does that make that person feel? They're again, being indoctrinated with the idea that when we don't really mean what we say, in this organization, we're not going to back up what we say with our actual behaviors. And that is going to create an organization that is not innovating that is not pushing. And that is not disrupting. And, you know, so what they want to strive to do. It's unfortunate because they don't have the commitment to back it up.

Jeff Ma
Yep. And this context, love needs to be translated as care since you right? I think

Frank Danna
it is care.

Jeff Ma
Yeah, care for the care for the outcomes care for the people. Genuine, heartfelt care for what, how everyone gets through it together.

Frank Danna
And it's even consistency, right? Like being willing to check in be willing to engage, being willing to have empathy, all of those things still connect to the idea of bringing love to the conversation.

Unknown Speaker
Like that. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker
absolutely. And Taking it to communication even right like as a leader when you're trying to take your organization on this digital transformation journey, even how you communicate with your teams and having empathy, to be able to communicate to the last seat last role and being able to explain to them what's in it for them with this digital transformation is so critical. A lot of the time, the leaders forget that their communications aren't always as compelling to the last last row because they're talking Evita and you know, revenue goals and, and, you know, all these targets that at the end of the day might be, you know, awesome for a CEO or a leader to have to go achieve and succeed and tie their bonus to it. But what does it do for the last seat last row, what's their case for change? Why would they want to get on board with this transformation? Right, so able to even communicate from, from a lens of empathy to the last seat last row and being able to have that even woven into your communication is so important. And to have empathy, you have to be able to care for your team for your employees. And without that care, and understanding, you're never going to take the time to empathize with them. And if you don't do that, you're not going to be able to successfully even communicate with them. So there's so much of those elements of love and behavior that is so compulsory for transforming the culture. And that ultimately leads to better outcomes with your digital transformation.

Frank Danna
Yeah, man, this is so this is such a tangent, but have you ever read the book that killed children's books? You know, if you give them a moose a muffin or if you give a mouse, a mouse a cookie? Yeah. So it's causing effect, right? It's like if this happens, then that happens. That happens when that happens. And foundationally, which we're what we're talking about right now is to achieve digital transformation, to not be part of that 84%. It starts with the way you behave. That is the that is a place that begins for leaders to create that culture because leaders either create or destroy a culture. And it starts with those behaviors. And if you do that, then these other things follow.

Unknown Speaker
Absolutely. I mean, you might have short term success. Don't get me wrong, there are organizations out there who can go build an app and have success, you know, in the short term until the startup, the next treat to them, comes up with a better product and killed you. So are killed your product, right? So the product might have short term success, short term outcomes achieved, but it's not going to last very long. Because you know, you need to really look at transforming the whole organization from within

Jeff Ma
Awesome. So I think that that's a really good summary. It also still begs many other questions. Obviously, this is a topic that we we can talk at length about. And I think there's so many other avenues for us to dive in. But I really kind of wanted to tie a bow on it here for this episode, because I think this was meant to be a very high level, you know, digital transformation at a glance. Hopefully, we'll have time in the future to really dive into some of these more detailed topics, whether it's agile, or the exact, the way culture, what culture really looks like in these spaces of the digital side of this. A lot more to talk about here. But I want to appreciate you guys for your time. And your insights. Here is a fun talk. And to our listeners, thank you for your time. We love the feed. We love feedback in general. So you know software.com slash labs la BS. Drop us a note there, tell us what you thought. Tell us what works for you and what what questions you have. We're trying to challenge the notion that you know, that love doesn't believe In a workplace, so challenge us, where do you think we could be talking about this and more for you to engage with. So with that, thank you guys all very much. Love as a business strategy. We'll see you next week.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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