Why is embracing a learning culture comfortable with failure so important in Digital Transformation?

A post-pandemic market place means that budgets are being squeezed, and milestones are being missed whilst you have been pivoting to survive rather than grow your business over the past 6 months. As your business attempts to meander back to the path it left back in March, things have changed, and the catalyst lockdown has given us to embrace experimentation and trying new things at pace is something we should try and hold onto. Embarking upon a Transformation or Change programme as you emerge out of lockdown could be the key to harnessing this.
Once your organisation has committed to a digital transformation strategy, you have acknowledged that there is a requirement in your business for change. Maybe sales post Covid are down, maybe customers are apathetic to your product or service or perhaps staff are just no longer engaged or are disenfranchised with a toxic leadership team – whatever the reason may be – by simply acknowledging the need for a new approach you have turned that grievance into a will to do something about it. I can assure you of one thing about what comes next on your roadmap, and one thing only, the road ahead will be bumpy. It’s how those bumps in the road are dealt with along the way, which will make it a successful process with operational efficiency and commercial growth at the centre of it.
So how do you embrace failure in order to transform?
The key thing with ‘embracing failure’ is the understanding that this does not mean that you are working to create a culture of mediocracy or under achievement. Quite the opposite, the only way businesses can succeed and outpace the competition is to be tenacious about trying new things and that means embracing a culture of learning rather than failure. Understanding that a learning culture comes with ideas and concepts that will not work and accepting that this is the way to establish what absolutely does work for your business, will be the key to the success of your Transformation Programme and how you therefore deliver lasting change.
What does a “learning culture” looks like…
Inspiring an environment where experimentation and measured ‘risk taking’ is encouraged, and where every employee is empowered to learn and develop, first means using recognised tools and techniques for fast experimentation and learning: design thinking, rapid prototyping, agile project management etc
The second is by committing to a culture of learning and making sure this is a part of your organisations DNA. Make sure this is unapologetically communicated to the business, this could be through your internal social channels, weekly emails etc openly sharing what your company is trying, failing, and succeeding on, or leaders standing up in team meetings and talking about their own failures, learnings and growth.
Where do leaders play a part in successful learning cultures?
The most common reason for failure in transformation programmes is stagnant leadership teams exhibiting all the traits of fixed mindsets. People will fail, mistakes will be made but organisations that have leadership teams talking openly about their own failures and vulnerabilities and what they have done to learn and grow personally, will unavoidably bring their employee cohorts with them on their change journey. The senior management team is ultimately responsible for ensuring that individuals are not held to task for their mistakes, rather encouraging a problem solving approach about understanding why something hasn’t worked and adapting the concept or prototype so that it’s improved. If instead a blame culture permeates within teams and individuals are reticent to think broadly for fear of consequence, businesses will haemorrhage the investment of their most innovative and creative asset. When change is so rapid, and as hierarchies flatten as a result, teams need empowerment and education to ensure they have the tools and space to be truly customer centric, making data led decisions and working towards an unyielding and crystal clear common goal. The concept of failing fast but learning quickly is the mind-set change that the senior leadership teams need to become comfortable at working towards – it is crucially important for businesses to survive and thrive in these most challenging of times.
If your organisation would like assistance with their digital transformation strategy or support with your culture change agenda then please get in touch for a chat.