Convincing different personality types to invest in Digital Transformation
TL;DR — how you make decisions is not necessarily the way that others do. There are lots of different preferences and the more awareness you have of them, the more likely you are to be able to persuade people to invest in Digital Transformation
Now more than ever, it is obvious that different people fundamentally see the world in different ways. For every single ‘truth’ that you hold to be self evident, there will be those who disagree with you without question. For every inclining, that you feel in your gut, there will be someone else who knows in their heart of hearts that you are wrong.
When at their best, our families, organisations and societies celebrate these differences and work together to find common ground on which we can build. At their worst, they create impasses that seem so difficult to climb that it makes you want to climb back under the duvet covers and watch cat videos.
Many of us have jobs where we are trying to change organisations. In these roles, what we are really trying to do is change people’s minds. As such, it is crucial that we have an above average sense of how others think, feel and perceive the world. Otherwise we will not know how to present our case to them in a way that makes sense, and if they don’t understand it, then the last thing in the world they’re going to do is support it.
So using Digital Transformation as your goal, here are a few thought about how to get different ‘types of people’ on board and engaged.
Disclaimer: I don’t like putting people into ‘boxes’ — so I would suggest thinking of these as possible starting points for the conversation. In my experience people tend to display attributes of different models at any one time or in any number of different circumstances. The most important lesson is to understand that the way you make decisions, is not the way that everyone makes decisions.
Taken from the Values Modes framework, this group of people are security driven and want to feel like they are in control. Risk is the worst thing in the world for them.
- Show other ‘heritage’ organisations that they trust which are doing interesting digital work.
- Illustrate the risk that competitors who are digitally enabled pose to the organisation.
- Use examples of companies they know that didn’t see change coming and got swallowed whole (like Blockbuster).
- Talk about doing the same things you’ve always done, but with greater efficiency.
- Wherever possible draw parallels between new channels, technologies or ways of working and traditional methods.
Again, using the Values Model Framework, these folks want to show others how successful they or their organisation is. They always want to be bigger and better and follow that pragmatist approach over a particular values / ethical set.
- Show the growth which could be achieved once you’ve improved the effectiveness of your organisation digitally.
- Illustrate what competitors that have a greater Digital set-up are able to achieve that you are not.
- Show celebrities, cool or ‘well known’ brands which are doing digital well.
- Sell the exciting dream of where you could be in 3 years time.
- Illustrate the specific outcomes that you’ll be able to achieve once you reach digital maturity.
This group are driven by wanting to do the right thing and are willing to explore a variety of options to get there. They are not afraid of getting things wrong and are usually considered innovative and driven to be the best they can be.
- Link the change to the organisation’s cause and what digital transformation will do for your mission.
- Make the argument in terms of people and what they will get that they don’t have now — whether they are supporters or beneficiaries.
- Excite them with the idea of working in the unknown.
- Let them brainstorm ideas for what could be done with new tools, ways of working or skills.
Charismatics account for 25% of all leaders. They are easily intrigued and enthralled by new ideas, but experience has taught them to make final decisions based on balanced information, not just emotions. Richard Branson is often thought to identify with this way of thinking.
- Boil the benefits down to their simplest form — such as an increase in efficiency or the ability to test new ideas quicker
- Illustrate new features and benefits through visual aids wherever possible
- Tell the story of a supporter / customer experience as it is now and what it could be in the future
- Don’t get carried away or too involved in your own story — these people won’t respect a perceived emotional bias
- Leave them with much more detailed information that they can use to go away and make a decision with
Thinkers account for 11% of leaders and can be the toughest executives to persuade. They are impressed with arguments that are supported by data. They tend to have a strong aversion to risk and can be slow to make a decision because they want to consider and understand all perspectives. Bill Gates famously falls into this category.
- Use data to show the growth of digital both within your organisation and outside of it.
- Bring supporter quotes to illustrate their needs and trends.
- Conduct cost-benefit analysis of the routes, structures or strategies that you are proposing.
- Use a model such as a Digital Maturity Matrix to illustrate the need that the organisation has to grow digitally.
- Bring data and proposals about the alternatives that you’ve discounted — including their benefits and why you’ve decided on your route over these.
- Show case studies of organisations which have followed similar digital transformation, but only if you can prove that they have been successful with bullet proof data. Agency or conference sales fodder won’t work — you’ll need to talk about the negatives they’ve encountered as well as the positives to gain credibility.
19% of leaders fall into this category. They tend to be highly suspicious of every data point presented, especially any information that challenges their worldview. They often have an aggressive, almost combative style but this is usually not as emotionally charged as it comes across.
- Gain credibility long before you try and get this person to sign something off. Help them or their team on a project that meets their goals and improves their measures of efficiency / quality. Something highly demonstrable like a PPC audit or email strategy can work well.
- Send through articles, blog posts or research on digital transformation before you try and get them to support it. If you can peak their interest and get them to ask you for your recommendations then you’re off to a good start.
- Build an ally in someone that this person trusts and get them to support you in your proposal.
- Expect to be challenged on every data point that you present and have real arguments for why they support your point.
- Don’t go in with incomplete Google Analytics insights — make sure you can take the metrics all the way through to what they mean for your users and organisation.
Followers account for 36% of leaders. They make decisions based on how they’ve made similar choices in the past or on how other trusted executives have made them. They tend to be seen as risk-averse.
- If you do nothing else, illustrate how other organisations that they respect have evolved Digitally and the benefits that has brought them. Sell the story of these improvements rather than focussing on the detail, although have it to hand. Speak to people internally at these other organisations to get first hand insights.
- If possible, use other examples from the teams which they have managed in the past, where they’ve been a part of change or transformation. Draw parallels for what you want to achieve with Digital. This is often particularly useful when it comes to team structure and roles.
- Get these leaders to go to conferences or meetups where they can see success stories for themselves.
Kind of like a combination of Skeptics and Controllers, these are often the hardest people to convince of something that they don’t already hold to be self evident. They can’t deal with uncertainty or ambiguity and anyone that comes to them with something that sniffs of being unprepared, will be given very short shrift indeed.
- Bring in external experts to present the details of your argument.
- Focus your proposals on logic, minute details and the power that it will give the team or organisation.
- Be prepared to chase down detailed information that they’ll ask you to go away and find, quite possibly to ignore at a later stage.
- Avoid any buzzwords at all.
- You’re more than likely to feel unsupported, even if given the go ahead, knowing that if things go wrong, it’ll be on your head and not theirs.
- Give lots of time for decisions to be made.
‘Change the way you persuade’, Williams G.A. and Miller R. B. Harvard Business Review ,May 2002