The digital transformation race is on, with every business looking to use the latest tools to stay ahead. However, technology is only as powerful as the teams that use it, therefore, organisations that invest only in software without the accompanying human investment end up wasting time, resources and effort.
To make the most of the digital future, you need to bring your people with you on the journey. This is especially true for traditional businesses looking to remain relevant in a changing world. We talked to Iasonas Antonopoulos, Digital Transformation Office at Vodafone to find out what it takes to bring a team into the now.
- Iasonas Antonopoulos’s Career Journey
- Human Meets Digital
- 7 steps to build a digital transformation training programme
- Lesson Learned
- Who is Iasonas Antonopoulos?
Lasonas Antonopoulos’s Career Journey
What motivates Iasonas Antonopoulos is his passion for products, from marketing to business to streamlining revenue for the company. I consider myself a product person at heart and products full of interactions that always satisfy a demand.
I started with technical studies — studied physics and telecoms and I hold a PhD in machine learning. In these 13 years, he started getting involved with creative workshops / design thinking. We held workshops with companies that were developing new products and ways of communication.
Iasonas started working as a product manager in a smaller corporation consisting of 10 to 70 people, where it was very empowering, that he felt he had full control of what and how everything worked around. He invested a lot of time in organising departments and scaling them quickly.
Right after that, he opened up my small consultancy and worked with a few very important customers. Iasonas then joined Vodafone full time and worked on the digital transformation — setting up the internal team and processing.
Today, Iasonas is a Digital Transformation Officer at Vodafone, helping the company to work on the transformation of the business in 25 different countries.
Drawing from his personal experience in start-up, he was a great candidate to start rebuilding the team. He first started building the recruitment team. “We then looked at how we train our people, product ownership and scrum”.
Human Meets Digital
We worked on the digital transformation on 3 levels:
Digital Experience: Changing how we interact with our customers, online and offline.
New product development and operation transformation: Adopting agile working, values, mission, motivations and feedback loops.
Digital Technology: Implementing the tools to drive more value from existing data and processes.
Digital transformation isn’t just about buying new software, contrary to popular belief, it is more about people and less about technology. Hence, going digital must include considering how you interact with customers, how you operate internally and then consider what technologies you need to do this.
The hardest thing to understand is the technology part, but the other two very often get neglected. People generally don’t want to change because change is uncomfortable – Vodafone was initially a very traditional business – but it’s my job to change that.
We realised that we had a few blind spots in our team and that we could really improve the quality of our team and deliverables by developing our own training programmes.
Seven Steps to Build a Digital Transformation Training Programme
We have around 450 people on the digital side, so in order to develop our own training we needed to be strategic.
We broke down the structure of the day to day training to make them more digestible and more appealing for our teams, effectively rebranding the idea of learning. Our programmes are now divided into chapters, which we call workouts. This enables people to do, say, a 2 hour workout with small exercises.
We’ve then taken steps to create a training-focused culture throughout the organisation.
Step One: Use External Speakers
It is very important to understand the Why behind the change. The best way to understand the why is to expose the team to content.
We have a session called Digital Friday every week, where we bring in people from other organisations to talk about their transformation journey. We do this to demonstrate the value of transformation and stress the importance of change and evolution.
If you want a transformation to be successful, it needs to be encouraged from top down, but you need to desire for adoption to come from bottom up.
Stop Two: Benchmark What Matters
Vodafone has a very metrics-driven culture, which carries through to the way train, evaluate and lead.
We start by benchmarking each team’s individual capabilities from a high level. We do this both quantitatively as well as getting feedback transparently through scrum retrospectives and interviews with teammates.
Step Three: Don’t Forget the Basics
To make sure everyone was on the same page, we put the team through programmes that cover the basics: agile, scrums, project management and how to give constructive feedback.
Step Four: Work to Specific Technologies
We have very specific technologies that we have deployed, so it’s essential that our team is making full and correct use of each tool. Every time we implement a new tool or bring on a new team member, we put the team through relevant training programmes as well.
Step Five: Build Domain Expertise
A key element of making training engaging for your team is ensuring it’s always relevant. For example, we have people in very specific roles and we work with them to develop training programmes that provide answers to day to day questions that they actually face.
This keeps our team feeling accountable for their own success, and helps us make sure we provide real answers.
Step Six: Process Adoption
When we release new processes, we also roll out training to get the team adopting the new method of working eg:
- How to be operationally efficient
- How to organise day to day work in the new methodologies
- How to be a leader from remote work
These process changes have a wide effect – teams need to completely change the way they interact with each other and their leaders need to update their approach too.
Step Seven: Collaborative Knowledge
Training isn’t just for your lower and mid-level teams. For some of our more senior leaders, we do round table discussions to develop critical thinking.
The agenda is tight but the content is extracted through the debate and conversation. This is more useful for ways of working, management, motivation, leadership and making sure that every level of the organisation is building a learning mindset.
As people move up in the business, the way to express what they want improves, but the effort they put into changing decreases. If you go lower, it’s the opposite.
Training is about medium as well as message – you need to make sure your formats and timings suit the way your team actually works.
Prioritise measurement early. We started measuring things that mattered for the business early on but you also need to measure the effectiveness of the transformation, otherwise you’re in the dark.
Who is Iasonas Antonopoulos?
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