Purposeful Communication

Bryan Fillmer


We have too many new meetings, I never get any work done.

I don't understand why they want us to change the way we accomplish this.

I just work around the new software, then put the end result in there later.

If you have heard a variation of these statements from anyone in your organization during a digital transformation then there is a disconnect between your leadership and the rest of the team's understanding of the transformation's purpose.

Too often the intent and reasoning behind changes made in pursuit of a defined business goal is poorly, if at all, communicated to those lower in the organization. These changes disproportionately affect those with the least amount of information of their importance.

Conversely, those that work with the software and process changes daily are those with the best insight into the proper way to to leverage them to get the best results. They need to feel that they have the ability to communicate negative feedback and suggestions upward to leadership.

Creating communication channels is the responsibility of the digital transformation leadership. Change management is difficult, and change that is poorly communicated even more so. Once a transformation strategy has been outlined it should be communicated to everyone in the organization, and reinforced at the appropriate level of detail by management.

Most importantly this communication must be two-way to be effective. While the company leadership will look at the situation in a broad way, the feedback of those in the trenches doing the work is important to ensure adoption.

Here is one technique to try early in a transformation, essentially a quick iteration within the organization to see if the purpose of the transformation resonates. You can think of this as product-market fit for a startup, only a little less stressful.

Have immediate working groups hear the purpose of the transformation. Then have them workshop how they best feel they would change their day-to-day processes, and technology usage, to meet the intent.

Analyzing the results of this workshop generates important information to help the transformation succeed. I have seen large changes to implementation, and even the transformation's purpose, come out of this short workshop.

However, it is also likely this will uncover leaders that have a difficult time communicating the intent to their team. Catching this early means that steps can be taken to assist them long before an entire team is performing sub-par with no apparent explanation.