Leading Change: Results Matter
Originally published on LinkedIn Feb. 18, 2023
A few years ago, I wrote about planning success in the new year. Whether for personal or professional goals, the process is still very similar and a core part of what I do regularly as a Customer Success Manager for Intelligent Business Applications. With a lot of the recent announcements about infusing more Artificial Intelligence (AI) across a wide variety of services, the potential for incorporating intelligent business applications in more aspects of an organization's day-to-day processes sounds even more appealing now than just a few years ago.
But the success of introducing any new technology is more often dependent on non-technical considerations. Some of the research in this area typically finds around 70% of underperforming investments in this space are due to business related issues, such as solution strategy, business processes, and change management. See, e.g., Avoid These 9 Corporate Digital Business Transformation Mistakes from Gartner.
This is a big reason why technical knowledge is simply not enough to address all the factors that contribute to sustainable success producing meaningful results. Moving from tactical to strategic engagement, truly understanding the purpose of underlying business processes, and integrating effective change management approaches, like the resources from the Prosci ADKAR methodology (which I've also written about over the years), help cover the gaps beyond purely tech-focused training and activities that may only address 30% of your organization's needs.
And as more AI is integrated in the workplace, proceeding with an awareness of the security, compliance, and ethical challenges inherent in the responsible use of AI means not just relying on whether your techies think they can develop a more intelligent solution, but whether your leaders actually think they should. A solution that delivers results faster, but with biased or inaccurate results, is not actually a solution, it's just perpetuating and/or creating more problems quicker. Spotting those potential issues requires a different skillset than that used to create them.
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -- Albert Einstein
This is not meant to overcomplicate things unnecessarily. I am a firm believer that "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" (and we can debate whether Leonardo da Vinci actually said that another time). Overengineering solutions can create their own additional costs that further reduce their overall effectiveness and increase the total cost of ownership (TCO) unnecessarily. However, as with many other things in work and life, striking the right balance is key, and that is often a blend of both art and science with a generous dose of humility.
But what is the point of all this? At the end of the day, playing with a shiny new toy may help when considering the possibilities for applying it in useful ways, but for most organizations, results matter. Can a more intelligent solution help to:
Generate more revenue?
Serve more customers/clients/citizens?
Save on operating costs?
Increase employee productivity?
[Insert preferred performance indicator here]?
And do it consistently without compromising quality?
Recognizing who in the organization can effectively apply new technology to produce meaningful results takes time in itself. Are the results sustainable? Can they influence peers across the organization to try a similar approach? Do they scale to even more impactful results because of the strong foundation established? Or are they eventually abandoned after the test of time and more scrutiny?
If you're going to try an unproven approach, by all means consider applying a growth mindset and give it a shot. You could be pleasantly surprised, or you could validate a more thorough and structured approach is still what you should follow even if it may take longer to see the kinds of results you are looking for.
And if you are keeping an eye on results, as Adam Waytz reminds us in the latest Harvard Business Review, "Beware a culture of busyness." Make sure you are prioritizing outcomes and not just activities across the organization. While some tools you come across may produce a slew of reports on activity in your environment, counting the number of bots or apps your team has created doesn't speak to the actual value realized. You could have one comprehensive app that addresses many different aspects of a business process, or you could have it broken down into multiple apps addressing isolated components in a less integrated manner. Which do you think is intuitively going to be more valuable? This is why the cultural aspects of adoption and change management need to address the organizational dynamics that can lead to misplaced time and resources driven by counting exactly the wrong things.
"... not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." -- William Bruce Cameron
In an environment where activity is prioritized over results, the incentives can lead to inefficiency and redundancy in an effort to claim more activity while barely showing any more meaningful outcomes. Anyone who has had to bill time on engagements, as a consultant or a counselor, knows there is an inherent conflict when you track your time more closely than you track your customer or client outcomes. Why would anyone want to use an intelligent assistant to speed things up when that means they will end up billing less time? It takes a culture shift to address that kind of reprioritization along with how customers and clients perceive the overall value delivered if alternative fee arrangements beyond the more familiar Contingency or Success fees are under consideration.
Of course, we're all witnessing some of that shift in real time, as the allure of more powerful AI raises questions in the minds of some knowledge workers who wonder how much of their day-to-day activities will be automated in the near future. The jury is still out on whether this will accelerate progress towards more value-based billing in the legal industry (pun intended), but there's no doubt many will have to rethink how they are balancing the value of their time with the importance of successful outcomes to determine what is fair for everyone involved.
If you'd like to learn more about how Microsoft invests in customer success with intelligent business applications, join us next month for our first Microsoft Customer Success Day! Learn more about it and register via: https://dynamicscon.com/customer-success-day/ #MCSD23
Allen & Overy, "A&O announces exclusive launch partnership with Harvey," Feb. 15, 2023, at https://www.allenovery.com/en-gb/global/news-and-insights/news/ao-announces-exclusive-launch-partnership-with-harvey
Association of Corporate Counsel, "Handbook for Value Based Billing Engagements," Jan. 21, 2015, at https://www.acc.com/sites/default/files/2019-04/Handbook-for-Value-Based-Billing-Engagements.pdf
Bob Ambrogi, "As Allen & Overy Deploys GPT-based Legal App Harvey Firmwide, Founders Say Other Firms Will Soon Follow," LawSites, Feb. 17, 2023, at https://www.lawnext.com/2023/02/as-allen-overy-deploys-gpt-based-legal-app-harvey-firmwide-founders-say-other-firms-will-soon-follow.html
Ken Callander, "Value-Based Pricing of Legal Services," Jun. 17, 2019, at https://abovethelaw.com/legal-innovation-center/2019/06/17/value-based-pricing-of-legal-services/
Carol Dweck, "What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means," Harvard Business Review, Jan 13, 2016, at https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means
Adam Waytz, "Beware a Culture of Busyness: Organizations must stop conflating activity with achievement," Harvard Business Review, Mar-Apr 2023, at https://hbr.org/2023/03/beware-a-culture-of-busyness
Nivine K. Zakhari, "Leading Change: Planning Success," Dec. 27, 2017, available at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/leading-change-planning-success-nivine-k-zakhari-/
Gartner, "Avoid These 9 Corporate Digital Business Transformation Mistakes," Jul. 28, 2020, at https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/avoid-these-9-corporate-digital-business-transformation-mistakes
Microsoft Customer Success Day, upcoming Mar. 16, 2023, at https://dynamicscon.com/customer-success-day/
Microsoft, "Reinventing search with a new AI-powered Microsoft Bing and Edge, your copilot for the web," Feb. 7, 2023, at https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2023/02/07/reinventing-search-with-a-new-ai-powered-microsoft-bing-and-edge-your-copilot-for-the-web/
Microsoft, "Responsible AI," at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/ai/responsible-ai
Microsoft, "Responsible and Trusted AI," Dec. 1, 2022, at https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cloud-adoption-framework/innovate/best-practices/trusted-ai
Prosci, "The Prosci ADKAR Model," at https://www.prosci.com/methodology/adkar