Tell the world about your digital project

Hanno Nevanlinna • Director of Culture, Service Innovation Coach

Do you want your digital project to succeed? Do you want it to kick off a cultural change that makes your company one of tomorrow's success stories?

Make sure your project is visible in your organisation. It’s a fairly simple task, but one that is often neglected.

A successful digital project requires breaking down existing silos. It's impossible to pull of a digital project that integrates with your core functions without involving people from all over the organisation.

If your colleagues don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, they can't help you. You must communicate your goals and the reasoning behind them to your organisation. Make sure everyone has an opportunity to ask background questions and explore your reasoning by asking why. If no one asks questions after your presentation, it doesn't mean your briefing was a success  – it’s more likely a sign that you were unable to get people excited about your goals.

Not knowing what is happening provokes fear and people use what little they know to come to primarily faulty conclusions. If the digitalisation of business is your goal, a successful project will have an impact on everyone’s work. Don’t leave any room for rumours. Make sure accurate information is readily available.

In digitalisation, you're aiming at a moving goal. All the time. The organisation outside your project team does not understand this, because management has set their goals in stone for the next 12 months. To them your project team looks like a flock of headless chickens, constantly changing direction for no fathomable reason. This does not increase the amount of support you receive from the rest of the organisation.

Let’s say you’re digitalising a sales process. Do you think people in sales are likely to use your fancy digital doodad if you spring it on them as a surprise? Or would it be better to let them influence the development process? Making the work you do visible is important.

It’s a good thing it’s easy, too. All it requires is a bit of work with little immediately apparent value. Communication and engaging people does require extra work, but they do pay off in the end.

This is how to do it:

  • Actively tell people about your goals. Be sure to repeat your message, because people forget quickly. Tell everyone about it, not just those who really need to know about it.
  • Be visible. Don’t hide product development away in the basement. If you’re building a service for sales people, work in their physical proximity.
  • Tell the whole organisation how you work. Hold an internal seminar and share knowledge about the demands of the digital world and agile service development.
  • Organise regular events where you tell people about the project and how it’s going. Entice people to attend by offering coffee and cake or something. Tell them where you’re at right now, what you’ve done to get there and how your goal has changed. Tell people about any and all user or customer interviews you’ve done.
  • Interview the employees in your own company as users. It’s an easy way to help them feel like they’re a part of the development process. It also lowers the threshold for soliciting feedback from people outside your team.
  • If possible, tell the public about your project. The surest way to get your own people to listen is for your project to receive some outside attention.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat. No message goes through the first time and via a single channel.

By making your project visible, you’ll make a success of it sooner and with less effort. At the same time, you can set off a cultural change in your organisation.

Easy, isn’t it?

This is the seventh blog in a series written by experts at Futurice for Talouselämä magazine's partner blog. The original Finnish version is here.

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