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Five Strategies for People-Friendly Digital Transformation

Digital transformation of learning and performance holds great promise but can miss the most important enabler—engaged, effective people. Just consider what we’re facing . . .

Corporate L&D is experiencing a remarkable transformation driven by a need to focus on employee performance needs and their job support preferences. We must meet employees/learners where they physically work and live if we’re to enable our organizations to change and innovate at a sustainable rate (with positive results).

Organizations that implement effective, evidenced-based performance solutions should see not only improved performance, but also higher employee engagement and retention.

How do we cope with the digital tsunami of learning and performance support tools and implement the best solutions for our unique environments? How do we make sense of the choices and avoid costly and/or ineffective efforts? There’s not one solution, but here are five strategies for you to consider:

1.  Focus on performance and sustainability.

2.  Walk a mile in their shoes.

3.  Balance high tech with high touch.

4.  Assess organizational culture and change management factors.

5.  Carefully implement, and then measure results.

Focus on Performance and Sustainability

We need to remind ourselves that the point of any effort is to improve and maintain job performance. But, when you’re faced with many new technologies and methods, it can be difficult to keep perfectly aligned to the performance goal. So, whether you’re approached by a vendor or someone in your organization, remember to be a strong advocate for solutions that meet your performance goals and that can be maintained.

Performance and sustainability should be the filters. Protect them. Support them. Define what success looks like to your sponsors and stakeholders. Make sure you have the evidence you need to make the right choices.

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

To be effective, any technology we select must accommodate our workforces. And the appropriate selection and integration of digital knowledge tools begins with a deep and sustained understanding of the people doing the work and their job conditions. Whether it’s processing loans, building aircraft, or selling pharmaceuticals, we need to fully understand and feel what it’s like for the employees.

What are their challenges? How can digital tools help them right where they are doing the work? Is there research we can apply from similar challenges and environments?

Balance High Tech With High Touch

Once we select the right technologies and design a solution system, it’s important to consider their effect on human relations within the organization. Although a system may seem to enable maximum performance, it might be negatively impacting the foundation of human interactions that are vital for organizational success. If there are potential negative impacts, find ways to eliminate or balance them with more support and opportunities for personal, low-tech interactions. Direct human interaction will always be a pervasive urge.

Assess Organizational Culture and Change Management Factors

The most potent factor in successfully implementing technology is the management of the change required within your organization’s culture. Unless you can harness the best aspects of your culture, the introduction of the technology will be less effective and may actually fail. This is a common problem. Leadership and culture need to be the focus of your proposed digital learning and support tools.

Carefully Implement, and Then Measure Results

The whole point of introducing technology is to get results. So, make sure you’ve clearly defined success to the satisfaction of your stakeholders with the rigor you’ll need. If an organization is unwilling to measure results, they might be experiencing the pressure of other priorities and possible political influences.

So, tread carefully when you make your case and advocate a solution. As you move along, frequently gather data and adapt your approach. Measure and learn. Measure and make decisions. Be willing to change direction based on the data.

Our field is going through a remarkable period of innovation and experimentation. But, remember that fundamental principles of human interaction and performance will remain. Enjoy the benefits that the new tools can bring, but base your solutions on what makes the most sense for your organization and people.

About the Authors

Chris Lepine
Chris is an evidenced-based, performance-focused, senior instructional designer. He began his career as a public school teacher, and completed his M.Ed. in 2005 to launch his corporate work. Through the years, he has developed the skills to complete every aspect of the ADDIE process. He thrives on variety and, especially, collaborating with teams to make a positive impact on what matters most to our clients.

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