Your strategy needs to digitally transform. Here’s why.
For the past two years we have read how the pandemic changed the work environment; how it drove people away from on-site organizations to businesses promising remote-first policies.
By now, we’d assume businesses have figured out how to manage a hybrid workplace without losing people and wasting resources. But with another recession just around the corner, it doesn’t seem like we’re moving anywhere.
The shift in the workplace paradigm was so sudden and strong that many industries collapsed. Consider manufacturing; at the start of the pandemic, an outstanding amount of jobs vanished over night, but according to Deloitte’s research, only 59% of those were re-hired by end of 2020.
And the rest? The positions re-opened, but no one wanted to return. And even more alarming, US manufacturing is expected to have 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030. And the reason? People refuse to return to the same conditions and processes.
While manufacturing seemed to take its time with digital transformation, the lack of workforce increased its urgency by tenfold. This opens yet another pandora's box for manufacturing. With digital transformation, the skills needed from employees today are not the same ones they’ll need in the future. Reskilling will be critical for the survival of the industry.
As technology advances, employees' value will solely depend on their skills of decision-making, flexibility and adaptability.
This change won’t be a slowdown. The industry will evolve at a rapid pace toward digital adoption and will need employees to turn into problem solvers, critical thinkers, and creativity-drivers while fully embracing digital tools.
But evolving operations alone won’t be enough. There needs to be an all-around answer to industry disruptors.
Strategy will need to evolve
Digital transformation must include modernizing the strategy-planning process, which will allow teams and individuals to understand their impact, make better data-driven decisions, and foster alignment, reducing employee churn.
To successfully go through a process of digital transformation you need two things.
The technology side—To welcome the process of digital transformation for your strategy you should look for a technology solution that helps connect the business goals and enables employees to view, understand, and track their progress.
You need a tool that can provide alignment at an organizational level and can assist with specific challenges (think resourcing) in the case of manufacturing companies.
In every manufacturing organization, there is a high degree of cross-functional collaboration involved in day-to-day activities. You need a tool that can help break teams out of siloed operations and keep track of dependencies and other project-critical pieces of work. You need a tool that will make collaboration simpler; collaboration should be a daily activity instead of a once-per-month thing.
It is also important that this tool can provide a clear and objective view on all activities being undertaken by any facet of the business at all times, eliminating duplication of efforts and allowing leaders to take preventative measures when a project is falling behind.
The cultural shift—To create a digital-transformation plan that actually leads people toward better processes and improved work experiences, you need company-wide buy-in. The technology by itself won’t succeed if you don’t work with your employees to shift the focus from output to outcome, from working hard to working smart. With strategy in the center, they will be able to focus on work that adds to the bigger picture and moves the needle.
Strategy is what every person in your organization does every day. Strategy is everyone’s business as usual. Your employees should work on things that will bring strategic outcomes, but this mindset must be part of a cultural change. Tools can accelerate that change, but they won’t solve the issue if everyone goes back to work as soon as the tool demo is over.
When you involve teams in every stage of the strategy—yes, the planning stage as well—they will understand how their work contributes to the vision you've set to achieve, while also feeling like a part of the strategy. This fosters ownership and accountability and your employees will make smart, informed decisions and easily track their progress.
Involving people in the strategy will improve employee satisfaction. In a recent survey we conducted together with Momentive, we discovered that 97% of satisfied employees report that they work toward shared goals, while only 38% of unsatisfied employees say the same.
As you maintain open communication throughout the ranks, you can foster a close-knit culture that fuels happier employees and more productive action.
Tom Wright is CEO Cascade