Every transformation journey in business have to meet face-to-face, the famous Mr. FUD. Here is a little story about Mr. Fud and Mr. Change.
Mr. Fud, welcome. My name is Mr. Change and I am responsible for the company wide program you might have heard about. It’s a pleasure meeting you in person.
Mr. Fud: “Mr. Change, it’s a pleasure meeting you too. My name is Fud and I’ve been in this company more than two decades. Pretty much from the very beginning actually. I have also waited for your invitation to have a chat about this new program everyone is talking about.”
Mr. Change: “That is one of the reasons we’ve decided to have a word with you. Please, have a seat and make yourself comfortable. You know that our transformation team has been very anxious to meet you and I am personally glad that we’ve finally found the suitable time for both of us. If you want any refreshments, just let me know.”
Mr. Fud: “Thank you, but I’m ok.”
Mr. Change: “Cool, maybe we just jump right into it? I mean, the program I am responsible of is making some waves in the organization. I would like you to be pointed out, there is lots of talking going on among the staff members, and our HR advised that me and my team should have word with you before we are doing any recommendations concerning the transformation program. So, I want to be frank with you and hope that you can return the favor.”
Mr. Fud: “Sure, tell me how can I help you?”
Mr. Change: “Well, I’ve been told that there is fear among our staff about our digital transformation initiative. Could you tell us what this is all about?”
Mr. Fud: “Certainly. Fear, as we all know is part of the human nature. We all have fears and it is as natural as any other feeling we might experience. Academics back in Cambridge describe it as an: “Unpleasant emotion or thought that you have when you are frightened or worried by something dangerous, painful, or bad that is happening or might happen.” So what I mean is that fear, in this case, is very real for our people. They fear that this transformation project is about cutting costs and maybe even cutting jobs. So, they fear about losing their jobs.”
Mr. Change: “Hmm… that is something I didn’t expect to hear, but I am glad that you are being straightforward with me about this. So, let me explain how we see the project we are trying to implement here. Firstly, it is about the change in our business landscape. Our customers are not buying from us anymore at the same rate they used to, and we have lost a quite significant market share for some new players on the market. Players we did not even know about a year ago. They are start-ups and very, very aggressive in their marketing and client acquisition. Our reaction to this was to build this transformation team. As you can see, I have nominated our best people on this. Our board have faith on us and our expertise to make this company great again and turning the tables for our benefit so customers are back in our corner. You know, just like it were before this disruption happened on the market. So let me assure you, that everybody who are involved on this initiative share the same faith and are fully committed to make this transformation happen.”
Mr. Fud: “Thank you for this clarification Mr. Change. I do understand now why we are doing this, and that our best brains are fully onboard and our top management haven’t lost their faith to fight back in this market situation.”
Mr. Change: “I am happy that you understand this. But, I still feel that there is something else that bothers you. Can you tell me what is it?”
Mr. Fud: “Yes, sure. It is that, there is a level of uncertainty about the roll-out of the transformation plan among the staff. Once again, researchers back in Cambridge explained, that uncertainty is: “a situation in which something is not known, or something that is not known or certain.” So what I mean here is, that people just don’t have enough information what is going to happen and when? They want to be more involved and really would like to see a very transparent planning and execution of the transformation plan. This is the uncertainty they are feeling right now.”
Mr. Change: “Oh, I see. Thank you for this. Now it is understandable and clear for me what this uncertainty is all about. What you are requesting is something we are more than happy to do and share together with the staff. One of my goals in putting this team together was to have a transparent and collaborative process, where everyone is involved and can comment when they want. Moreover, they will also have an access for all the data and decision material throughout the whole process. Does this answer to your question about the uncertainty?”
Mr. Fud: “Yes it does Mr. Change. This is definitely something that has bothered our people and I am happy that you and your team is taking this seriously. Now, there is still some doubt among the sales people about the new plan. Once again I would like to quote my professor in Cambridge, who once said that a doubt is: “A feeling of not being certain about something, especially about how good or true it is.” I mean, they do understand that customer need is now first to put our capability for solving customer’s pain points. It is crucial for the whole transformation change we are trying to implement. The doubt they feel is more about our in-house competence for doing this in a first place. Do we have the skill and expertise needed for doing this? And if not, where we can find that talent?”
Mr. Change: “Mr. Fud, I do understand that our sales people are doubtful about this change we are initiating, but let me be absolutely open with you on this. Yes, we will need expertise outside. Our current competencies only match partly the need and for the rest, we have hired some of the best experts on the market to help us. So there is absolutely no reason to doubt that our common endeavor is in jeopardy because of our limited skill set in-house. What we really want to see is the desire of our people to change our current operations with the help of experts, to something which bring us together as a people and as a company and, most of all, as a service provider our customers want to buy from.”
Mr. Fud: “Great to hear this Mr. Change. I am now assured that the fear, uncertainty and doubt we had before this conversation, are now all dealt with. And, I also want to add, that by turning the fear to faith, uncertainty to understanding and doubt to desire has really made the difference here.”
Mr. Change: “Mr. Fud, thank you for this very enlightening conversation and I am glad that we’ve managed to explain and overcome the challenges you had. I believe that after this meeting our transformation program is now better off than never before.”
Mr. Fud: “Mr. Change, I am glad that we had this dialogue and solved all those three areas we were struggling with. I also believe that we will have a successful transformation journey ahead of us.”
Every transformation journey in business have to meet face-to-face, the famous Mr. FUD and deal with him with respect and with open mind.
Writer Jari P. Ängeslevä is Executive Vice President at Eficode and actively involved in digital business, disruption and transformation. And yes, he has met Mr. Fud in person.