From entering the metaverse to digitizing samples and showrooms, digital acceleration is going full speed in fashion. This transition isn't free of challenges, especially as leaders try to scale digital efforts. Becky Frankiewicz and Tomas Charmorro-Premuzic from Harvard Business Review argued that "Technology matters (...) It’s technology that will continue to support change. But it’s people who’ll be leading the charge".
If we (people) are leading digital change, we need to understand and believe in the power of digital to drive change, we need to embrace a digital mindset. During the webinar "Adopting a Digital Mindset in Fashion", Hans Summers (On Running) and Anne-Christine Polet (Stitch) discussed 5 ways fashion brands can approach digital transformation to help individuals and organizations to develop a digital mindset.
1. Define your change narrative. it'll be your guide you through the challenges of the journey.
According to Hans, "significant changes to long-standing and familiar practices can make it difficult to adopt a digital mindset. Therefore, staying focused on the long-term benefits will help to promote perseverance and motivation when challenges do arise.” No matter how much we need to change things when challenges appear, we need to remember why we are changing, the purpose of change.
One important-and-often-forgotten tool to drive change is a change narrative, a story to guide individuals and organizations through change. A change narrative should capture at least these 3 things: your organization's purpose for change, your organization's vision, and the desired outcome of this change.
2. Break down your strategy in small, achievable steps. Reward and celebrate progress.
When we embark in a digital transformation strategy, we can experience a mix of emotions, from the excitement of reaching the end goal, to the frustration when things aren't moving according to plan. How to navigate these emotions is a key digital transformation tool.
One way to manage emotions derived from change is to break down your digital transformation into small, achievable steps. This reduces risks and enables teams to review and iterate in shorter cycles compared to end-to-end plans. Lastly, small steps make it easier to track and reward progress as every milestone becomes a new opportunity to share, review and celebrate.
3. Keep communication lines open and transparent. There's no such thing as overcommunication.
One pitfall in most digital transformation projects is the cadence of communication. The teams responsible for change often see communication as an end-goal step, rather than a digital transformation tool to facilitate and accelerate progress. Communication should be as frequent as changes happen in the journey or at least once every time a milestone is achieved.
Constant communication reinforces positive behavior and is key to successful digital transformation: encourages openness to share and listen to feedback and it helps build bridges with stakeholders across the organization. Remember, there's no such thing as overcommunication. Pro Tip: Choose the cadence of communication and stick to it, even when you think there are no updates. No update is an update!
4. Change and digital transformation should be constant. develop a digital mindset to drive now and in the future.
“The world is evolving so fast, that change is becoming the norm and your ability to deal with change is a skill to future-proof yourself." Anne Christine Polet's perspective sheds light on another aspect of digital transformation: its continuity.
Digital transformation should be considered as a business framework, not a project with an expiry date. Fashion brands that understand this are likely to be more future-proof, adapting faster to market shifts and investing in embedding a digital mindset within the organization.
5. Put people at the center of any decision. Technology enables change. People lead Change.
Digital transformation can't happen without people. You can implement technology left, right and center but, if people don't adopt it, you'll be left with quite a hefty expense with no clear return on investment. In order to see business benefits, people need to experience value.
The most important digital transformation tool enables all of the above: people. Without people, there can be no communication, nor digital mindset. Digital transformation is ultimately human transformation. It's all about enhancing our ability to navigate change, to embrace the uncertainty and to stay connected. Because when we lead the change, digital transformation happens.