I really want hybrid models to be a long-lasting way of working that improves
people’s productivity, work-life balance, and happiness. I also hope employers
will promote hybrid working permanently – not just as a response to retain
employees – but as a fundamental way of doing business that yields better
Beyond adopting policies and technologies to enable hybrid work, this
long-term change in the operating model requires business leaders to
reconceive communication and collaboration strategies. One area to focus on is
communicating digital transformation pivots in vision, strategy, and
Why Digital Transformations Require Pivots
If you follow my previous writing, you’ll note that I recommend leaders start
their digital transformation journeys by focusing people and teams on
one big calling initiative. I recommend documenting and communicating a
around the digital transformation and its underlying initiatives. Focusing on
one calling creates alignment and helps in selecting a small number of people
to get involved in the program’s early days.
That works for kicking off the program, but we all know digital
transformations are journeys, and there are many reasons why leaders will
evolve their vision, strategy, and priorities. Some pivots will come from
external factors such as a crisis, new competitors, supply chain risks,
changes in customer needs, or material changes in available technologies.
Other times, leaders pivot digital transformations based on feedback from
customers, employees, and stakeholders – and these often drive new priorities,
requirements, process changes, or team structures.
Beyond Town Halls: Pivoting Digital Transformation
Now, if your team is small, you can gather everyone on a Zoom and communicate
the pivots. With smaller teams, you can also observe their changes and whether
they are adapting to the new vision, strategy, or priorities.
Communicating pivots and observing adaptation is not so easy when working with
multiple hybrid working teams. So here are my recommended five steps to
communicate changes and pivots in digital transformations.
Standardize, centralize, and version your visions statements – Vision
statements should have scope and target timeframes. They can be versioned
when visions need updating. Digital transformation leaders should
standardize their formats
and centralize access to them, thus creating a single place for teammates to
consult when working on their objectives.
Communicate in multiple forums – We still have pictures of town halls
and now virtual town halls to communicate with multiple, geographically
dispersed teams. While that’s still useful,
know that top-down communications are just the start. Share additional
communication points with product managers, program managers, and delivery
leaders to reinforce how pivots impact their teams’ release priorities and
backlogs. This often requires communicating pivots in layers, first with
team leaders, then with teams, and then broadly as an organization. Leaders
may also need to use one-on-one meetings, especially if
detractors hold onto the status quo.
Ask for feedback – It’s too easy and common for people to return to
their day jobs and what they were working on pre-pivot. Leaders should go
out of their way to
capture teammates’ feedback and adjust their strategies. The key is to
ask for this feedback and take steps to engage teammates for it
because it’s less likely that all will volunteer their reactions and
Review metrics for early indicators – Once an updated vision or pivot
is announced and feedback captured, leaders should seek early indicators on
where and how
agile self-organizing teams
adjust their priorities. Leaders can’t afford to wait for sprints and
releases to see how teams adjust to the updated goals, but they can use
metrics from agile tools for early indicators. Organizations practicing
StarCIO Agile Planning
should look for increased prioritized planning cards and a decrease in
delivery user stories. The added planning should reflect the new goals and
Develop transformation cadences – There are times when a crisis or
externally driven event requires leaders to stop and pivot. Other times, we
can bake transformation cadences into our digital transformation roadmaps as
periods when we update visions, review release targets, and adjust team
assignments. My recommendation: review twice yearly, once after budgets are
approved and again halfway into the fiscal year.
I hope you find these steps useful because digital transformation pivots and
changes happen more today than we could ever have anticipated.
Please reach out to me if I can help.