Change can be a very stubborn thing. It is the hardest chestnut to crack in an organization and it happens because people like stability and the notion of being in a state of equilibrium. Given the option, settling for the status quo becomes a natural predisposition for many.
I must emphasize though that there is such a thing as the right kind of change. When planned carefully and executed systematically, a change initiative can do a whole lot of wonders to an organization. This is certainly the kind of change and digital transformation journey that my organization recently pursued.
For many years now, we have been providing security service to Singapore and the rest of Asia. While we provide the best in class services to our clients, there are redundant administrative habits and internal processes that we had gotten used to and never really adopted the technology until it was inevitable to do so.
One of the examples of a practice primed for change is the manual—paper and pencil— the type of reporting attendance for our security officers while at work on more than 40 sites around the country. This manual and labor-intensive time tracking system served well when we were a small company more than a decade ago. However, when the workforce began to expand to more than 200 full-time and 400 part-time officers, such processes began to carry a whole lot of inefficiencies and issues.
The manual way of checking time on the job became unwieldy, prone to inaccurate reports and would result in the delay of paying our workers’ salaries. In this hyper digitalized 21st century, we could no longer afford to do a manual attendance tracking. This became the lowest hanging fruit primed for change in our organization.
We started looking around for companies that can help us achieve our goal. After careful research, we ended up onboarding HokuApps. One of the strongest reasons we collaborated with HokuApps was that the company provides a range of mobility solutions and advanced digital platform that organizations can rely on for their operation.
According to Charles Duhigg, the New York Times bestselling author of the book called The Power of Habits: Why We Do What We Do In Life, for a transformational change initiative to succeed, some important keystone habits—new practices—have to be adopted.
Moving from manual to mobile, there were three important habits that had to be adopted for a successful digital innovation:
- Planning, consultation, and buy-in – It was important for me as a leader of the organization to make the case for the change from manual to digital. I had to explain to the rank and file the purpose and rationale for the change and the work that lies ahead to get this done. I sensed that the whole company (leadership and staff included) understood and internalized the need for change. We did quite a bit of initial consultation with them.
- Training and adoption – After the planning, HokuApps showed options and provided mockups of potential solutions until we settled on the path to follow. HokuApps was quite innovative and responsive to our needs especially the need for assisting the company to train staff on the use of this innovation so that they can be comfortable in adopting it on a consistent basis. We did quite a bit of communication, training, and demonstration with our staff.
- Communication and reinforcement – After the training, it is never sufficient to just let people use the innovation and hope for the best. It is important to communicate and reinforce new habits and skills for people to succeed in adopting innovation. When we have an issue, a bug or a technical glitch, I was glad that HokuApps responded in a fast and timely manner and assisted us to make sure that users of the technology feel supported in this new endeavor.
Based on our digital transformation experience thus far, I can say that the three most important actions that needed to be instilled in this change process is the idea of empowerment and getting a buy-in through planning and consultation, the habit of training and being given plenty of opportunities to try and master the innovation, and finally, the habit of open communication especially in asking for support when things don’t necessarily go as planned.