How to Create the Team Cohesion Needed for Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is easier said than done. Companies know it takes a serious investment of time, energy, money, and will, yet they are still often caught off-guard by the scope of the effort. For that reason, far more companies start transformations than finish them.

One resource that is often missing is buy-in, but not from the source you probably expect. While the focus is often getting executives on board with digital-first initiatives, it’s the front-line staff who really need to be engaged. Recent research found that 84% of executives are committed to transformation compared to just 45% of lower-level workers.

Digital transformation depends on engagement at all levels because companies need the broadest perspective throughout this process. An executive in charge of operations, for example, has a much different perspective from someone who works in the field. However, both are valuable because together they reveal what the “digital-first version” of your company actually looks like.

Get a variety of stakeholders in the room together, and you’ll see a synergy you never expected. New ideas are born out of thin air as people combine their needs to create a holistic solution. The goal is digitization, but it’s driven by the needs of people.

Creating Cohesion Across Teams

The key challenge of digital transformation is keeping potentially dozens of teams with different agendas working cohesively toward a shared objective. Utilize this mix of tools and techniques to ensure everyone is effective:

Take time for surveys: Digital transformation looks different for every company. Rather than assuming to know what form it will take, give employees at all levels a survey to determine their level of engagement and what digital pain points they face. Comprehensive surveying takes some time, but it’s absolutely worth the effort if it reveals opportunities or obstacles that could affect the transformation.

Get other executives involved: The role of leaders throughout digital transformation is to facilitate the efforts of the teams below them. Having executives on board is critical because they can authorize resources like time, money, and freedom. Department heads are also important because they can keep the teams below and around them from bumping into each other. All department heads need to be involved, not just IT or production, in order to keep teams coordinated across the organization.

Regularly solicit feedback: Digital transformation is an evolutionary process. No one has the right plan from the start. Instead, teams learn from mistakes and adapt as necessary. Regularly getting feedback from everyone involved in the form of surveys and interviews reveals what is working and what is not. As digital transformation moves forward, these kinds of insights are essential for keeping it on track.

Here’s a telling statistic: One survey on digital transformation showed that 85% of respondents believe their company has the workforce it needs to transform, yet finding the right talent is cited as the number one challenge. Clearly, the success or failure of the entire effort comes down to people, which really isn’t all that surprising. If you want your company to transform, everyone inside has to be involved.

Q Manning is principal and general manager of Rocksauce Studios, an EX Squared Solutions company that's solving big problems with technology. Rocksauce Studios’ goal is to use research and human behavior to build engaging products that people love using, whether consumer or internal. You can find Q at the Rocksauce office in Austin, Texas, or at the nearest coffee shop fueling up.