Transformation of a business is no longer a one-off type of a situation. It does not start and stop; it is not a done and forget type of scenario. It has become a necessity for every organisation today. “Transformation has become essentially the state of every business. We are now in a transformative stage where we are in constant transformation. We have entered that stage” says Murat Bicak, Senior Vice President Strategy, Project Management Institute.
Another reflection of Bicak is the term artificial intelligence. He feels that the word – artificial, does not match the reality of the application and should be better replaced by the word – augmented. Human beings are using certain technologies to make themselves more intelligent, and it is used in a sense of assistance. It should be removed from any association of fear.
Technology is penetrating every industry. All changes to a business or an industry or an ecosystem of suppliers are being impacted as a continuous process of change. This is similar to a project that has a predictable path with milestones. Change evolves as it progresses similar to a project and reaches a definite state, usually with the release of a new product or service, that has been transformed. However, since transformation today is in a mode of continuous change, the new product or service, moves back into a project phase to be transformed as we move forward in time.
Every change that the product or service goes through is a project of its own. “So, we see evolution of product manager that looks like project manager. Or a project manager becoming a product manager,” says Bicak. “Every one of these changes that we are seeing around us is delivered through a project because projects deliver change. And it is not possible to expect that projects themselves will not be impacted by technology. So, technology is all over the projects right now.”
As human beings we are comfortable with what we know. We are not comfortable with what we do not know. By default, we tend to live in the past and we are more comfortable working with the ways of working in the past. Since organisations are an aggregate of human beings, all with their own perceptions, organisations tend to follow the same pattern.
“A lot of organisations struggle with that and they protect their past,” points out Bicak. “What they need to realise, is that while success has been brought by the past, how do we protect our future. That gives us transformation,” he reiterates.
Organisational change management becomes extremely critical, because now we have to be first convinced that change is a requirement and the whys of that need to be clear and owned. A key reason for the resistance to change is that the reasons for transformation need to be accepted and owned by the teams. If the individual teams are not part of the conversation, transformation and change will never be owned and accepted. The challenge starts once transformation is announced as part of someone else’s idea.
Since people and human beings are part of the change management, the focus needs to change from employees to talent. The process of transformation and change is happening so fast and distributed that a formal hierarchical decision-making process cannot be as it used to be. Projects and the process of change management, will get to the decision-making point, much faster than in the past.
Teams are being flooded by data and often decision making needs to be done in real time, since data is always changing. The difference between talent and employees is that the first one is immersed in skills, whereas the second one is immersed in a job description. While job descriptions are already partly obsolete by the time they are issued, talent can be future proofed.
“So now we are talking about teams that are adaptable, teams that can make decisions, with the process sometimes taking a secondary stage,” points out Bicak. “This is not different for individuals in different organisations. Future proofing these teams with talent requires skills to be constantly upgraded and reskilled.”
Team members basically use three sets of skills in their job roles referred to as a triangle of skills, explains Bicak. They are technical skills, leadership skills, and strategic management skills. To manage the process of transformation in an organization there is an overlay of digital skills required over the triangle. In other words, the triangle model of skills needs an upgrade.
“But now we say it is not sufficient. We need digital skills as an overlay and that does not mean someone who is to learn how to code but they need to understand, when I bring data in, what are my risks,” elaborates Bicak.
However, Bicak points to a significant disconnect at this stage. While heads of business agree there is clarity on the nature of future skills training, and employees also are in agreement about the same skills training, very few have any specific programme to retrain employees over the next years. Hence there is a disconnect since future skills are not necessarily being taught in organisations. The question Bicak asks is, “As an employee, how am I going to get reskilled?”
Another way to future protect an organisation is by creating a vision statement similar to the transformational statements issued by GCC governments like UAE and Saudi Arabia. A vision statement sets a future goal for the organisation or the country, which may need the convergence of multiple technologies and multiple talent skills, probably not even available at the time of announcement.
It is a process, that requires first of all putting out a big ambitious goal. At this stage, “You do not have to say how you are going to do it. The how is going to be figured out,” says Bicak. This put both the project and the leaders behind the vision statement in a strategic role.
- Every change that the product or service goes through is a project of its own.
- Since people are part of the change management, the focus needs to change from employees to talent.
- Reasons for transformation need to be accepted and owned by the teams.
- Changes to a business are being impacted as a continuous process of change.
- This is similar to a project that has a predictable path with milestones.
- Change evolves as it progresses similar to a project and reaches a definite state.
Hierarchical decision making may no longer be possible in future with real-time data, making it essential to look at skills, says Murat Bicak at PMI.