Guest post: Thanks to our partnership with Leapgen, we're delighted to have contributions from their team of experts. Thank you to Lynsey Hathcock for sharing her wealth of knowledge in the field of Digital Employee Experience.
In the past blog posts, we have discussed the foundational elements for how to approach a digital transformation that is centered around the workforce experience. Everything from the initial vision setting exercise to taking time to learn about the workforce and their needs; plays an important role in driving digital transformation.
Now, let’s dive into how we move past the initial discovery phase and begin to design and enable transformation across the organization. First, it’s crucial to ensure that you retain the employee-centered approach as you move into the design and deployment phases. To do this, there are two key elements for success (i) that you design for change with a human-centered approach to design and (ii) that you enable change through a transformative change enablement program. But perhaps the most important element is to ensure these two components are intertwined, often to the point of being indistinguishable from one another.
Let’s take a look at how and why you drive transformation through a mixed approach to experience design and change management.
Any seasoned change management practitioner can attest to the changes the industry has seen over the last 20 years. In the past, it was very common for a large change management team to be brought onto a project team just a few months before a major system implementation where the technical team would essentially throw the solution over a wall and say “roll this out the organization.”
The change team would work diligently to capture the “what’s in it for me” for the various impacted workers, often spending late nights over pizza and drinks brainstorming what could possibly be used as a benefit. “Maybe we could say it’s faster, or I guess it streamlines the process…” The problem wasn’t that the change management team wasn’t focused on the right things, the problem was the system wasn’t designed for the workers in the first place.
The result, a solution where you spent hours trying to figure out how to sell it to your people, and then failing to realize your business case when the workforce inevitably didn’t use it. And why should they? You would never expect your customers to use a faulty product that made their lives more challenging so, why is it ok to design a system without your workforce's needs being the most important piece of the equation. Your workforce is your customer and your approach to design needs to reflect that.
So how do you do that? Some organizations, such as Leapgen take a human-centered approach to design that is reinforced through a compelling change management journey. We have found that a well-mapped transformation strategy supported by design thinking towards a common vision delivers a compelling workforce experience that inherently drives adoption.
Our approach has three primary phases where the design team and change team works together simultaneously to ensure an employee-centered solution is being delivered. Let’s walk through each phase in more detail to understand how this methodology delivers a solution that meets your worker's needs.
Perhaps the most important step of human-centered design is the 'learn' phase. It’s during this phase where we slow down to truly understand the needs of the workforce.
During this time, it is imperative to capture the voice of the customer to provide insights into the moments that matter to your workforce. This is achieved through a number of different mechanisms. Ideally, surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc. are all used to drive a holistic look into the diverse needs of the workforce.
During this phase, the design and change teams will create personas and journey maps that capture the essence of the worker. What are the motivators, needs, pain points for each segment of your organization? By diving into these insights we are able to truly understand what we are designing for.
From a change enablement perspective, this is a great opportunity to really understand how we will create a narrative that is compelling and will resonate as we move them through the transformation journey.
This is accomplished by the creation of a change strategy. A comprehensive look into your audience segments, how they will be impacted, and what are the messages that will resonate with each group. This is also a prime opportunity to look more holistically across your organization and really understand how many other change initiatives will be impacting each group and when. Doing this level of analysis will ensure that you can carefully curate an experience that they consume as opposed to overwhelming anyone at a particular time.
With a more enriched understanding of the experience needs of your workforce, you are able to move into the 'innovate' stage where you begin to solution the ideal experience to meet those needs.
At this stage, we understand the core problems and we begin to provide structure for solving those problems. This includes setting clear priorities, defining an action plan, and identifying immediate next steps to make the vision for experience a reality.
From a design perspective, this is our opportunity to dream big and intentionally. This can be the most energizing time in a transformation initiative because it’s our opportunity to ideate and challenge the current state. It is important during this time to not be afraid to fail and try again, to continue to think big with the end goal of creating an ideal solution for our people. During this time we prototype our solution by transforming our ideas into a tangible future state solution. This moves us from design thinking to design doing.
During this time, your change resources should play two very crucial roles. First, holding you accountable for what you are designing. It can be very easy to dive into detailed design sessions and have someone say "well we do it this way today, or we need an extra approval step here…" small decisions rooted in past behavior that on their own might not lead to a big impact, but when these small decisions are aggregated you severely impact the employee experience. Ensuring you have someone in these design sessions who is committed to seeing that vision come to life is imperative to designing a truly human-centered solution.
Next, during this time you are also actively capturing what is changing for each impacted segment of your organization. This is going to allow you to have a detailed understanding of what will be different for your people and to what degree. What are the areas of the experience that will truly enhance their day-to-day? This will allow you to provide personalized messaging that will resonate, opposed to the brainstorming sessions of the past where you just tried to come up with a list of benefits that may or may not be accurate.
Finally, the two worlds collide through a thoughtful employee experience testing program. This isn’t your User Acceptance Testing from 20 years ago, most cloud-based solutions will require a detailed testing protocol so you are no longer bringing people in to test whether the system is “working” but rather asking is it providing the intended benefit?
From a design perspective, you can garner very specific feedback on the experience you have created. Is this page easy to navigate? Did you have everything you need to complete the journey? What could have made it easier? And you can use this feedback to further cultivate an enriching experience.
From a change perspective, you are able to pressure test your approach to the organization. You have captured how people are going to be impacted and developed a compelling story for how you prepare to bring the workforce along the journey. This is your opportunity to see if that resonates. This is where you can lay out your change approach alongside people undergoing the experience for the first time to determine if you have the right plan in place before going more broadly.
Does our messaging campaign meet the experience? When we say we are providing you a curated experience, a one-stop shop for managing your team, the data needed to take your career into your own hands…. Is that what you feel when you are going through your experience? And if not, should we change our messaging or our design? Always asking, how can we deliver the most compelling experience?
It’s time! You have listened to your customer, you have designed a solution that meets their needs. Now is the fun part! We get to roll out a solution that should fundamentally make things better for your workforce. During this phase, your change team becomes heavily focused on providing the necessary support to ensure the experience comes to life in a meaningful and compelling manner.
The use of marketing campaigns, infographics, videos, and in-system support are all effective tools for engaging your employee base through the transition. And you know you will be successful because you have designed with the workers at the forefront and you have pressure tested your engagement approach with key team members. All making your “go-live” fairly uneventful.
However, the work doesn’t end there. We don’t like the term go-live, but rather we use the term go begin. Because your transformation journey is really just getting started. As we’ve discussed in past blog series, the road to digital transformation is not a final destination but rather an ongoing journey that enables your organization to continue to evolve and improve in an agile manner as the workforce continues to shift.
This is accomplished by having a detailed measurement program in place. This allows you to look back on what you deemed your measures of success were (global, simplified, faster) and map tangible metrics to these criteria as well as a dedicated program to measuring on an ongoing approach to capturing data. There is a common saying, that that can be measured, gets done. And this is no different. If you want to know if you are successful you must have a dedicated approach to measuring as well as plans for continuous innovation depending on your findings. After all, the workforce is only going to continue to evolve in a rapid fashion and we must be equipped to transform with it.
About the author.
Lynsey Hathcock is a seasoned management consultant at Leapgen with over ten years of HR strategy, design thinking and change enablement experience. Lynsey is passionate about finding innovative ways to help clients craft impactful experiences for their people to ensure intended business outcomes are realized.
Lynsey has successfully led 25+ Fortune 500 clients to solve complex organizational problems; including digital transformations, global system implementations, and talent management initiatives. She brings diverse industry experience-spanning across retail, pharmaceuticals, financial services, education, and non-profit.
Lynsey holds a Juris Doctor and Masters of Business Administration degree from Wake Forest University and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Economics from Clemson University.