Exploring Digital Transformation and Change

By Sandy Tan & Luna Laysiepen, Transformation Team.                                                           13-05-2020

A Story of Change & Transformation, Part II

Transformation change curve

In our previous blog post, we wrote about Change and Transformation from a personal perspective, where we briefly touched on the Kubler-Ross curve to illustrate the many phases people can experience when confronted with a Change in their lives. This week we will take Change to the business environment and dive deeper into Digital Transformation and Change. We have seen that change might feel daunting and people might go through what we call an emotional roller coaster. In other words: at the start of any change you can feel excited or anxious. But taking the time for reflection can help bring these emotions to the positive side of the curve – phew! 

First things first, let’s refresh our minds on the five stages of the Change Curve: 

  • Denial: we simply don’t want to believe that the change is happening. If we pretend that the change is not happening, then maybe it will all go away. 
  • Anger: the realization we have to change. When we realize that the change is real and will affect us, our denial usually turns to anger. 
  • Bargaining: an attempt to postpone or change what is inevitable. We start bargaining in order to put off the change, or find a way out of the situation. 
  • Depression: we realize that bargaining is not going to change the reality. We realize we cannot do anything about the change, it will happen. In this stage, energy decreases and we might reach the point of feeling demotivated and uncertain about our future.
  • Acceptance: as we realize that fighting the change is not going to make it go away we move into a stage of acceptance.

Here is a Digital Transformation and Change story told through the eyes of the PVH Sales team. As pioneers in the fashion industry, they have experienced Change ever since their digital journey started five years ago. Let’s follow ‘Columbus’ and ‘Tasman’, two of the early adopters of the Digital Showroom in the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein wholesale sales teams, on their change journey.

Tell us about your first reaction when the Digital Showroom was first introduced to you. 

C: After working with physical samples for over ten years, I was a bit hesitant to work with a digital showroom. But my curiosity won over my hesitance quite swiftly.

T: Shocked. My first thought was: “Where are my samples and how does this work?!”

And what about your reaction when you first entered a Digital Showroom and started working with it? 

T: Impressed, both by the looks of it and how easy it works. The Digital Showroom has continuously improved and it was great being part of it from the start. 

C: Despite my hesitance, it immediately was a great experience to work with and I could see the potential it has for the future. The fact we could work clearer and faster surprised me in a good way.

The next step was running your first digital sales appointment, how did you experience that? 

C: Nervous! Not having experienced it evoked feelings of unclarity and insecurity about if and how the Digital Showroom would perform and if we were actually able to see the collections come through digitally. At the same time I also felt proud and had that feeling of “Yes, we did it!”. 

T: It was surprising to see how positive customers reacted, after they had been skeptical about it. 

How do you feel about the Digital Showroom now? 

T: The best advice to a new user I could give is to trust it, have fun and go with it. See the Digital Showroom as your traditional showroom, where every sales person uses the tools available in their own way. 

C: It is confirmed that digital selling is the way to go – and it proves it even more during Covid-19 times. 

The above Q&A shows how people can differ in their responses when introduced to something completely new. It teaches us that change doesn’t only impact the sales reps needing to adapt their way of working. It shows that these people also need to take the expectations and reactions of their wholesale customers into account. ‘Colombus’ and ‘Tasman’ are now five years in and wouldn’t want to return to the traditional showroom environment again. 

By mapping these early adopter reactions, and many others, you can create a holistic understanding in the many different responses of sales teams during this Digital Change and in what phase they find themselves along the Change Curve. Recognizing the stage people are in, can help you tweak your approach to steer the Digital Transformation and Change in the right direction.

So, what can you do to overcome Change challenges? 
  1. If people feel shocked and are in denial of change, create alignment and steer towards acceptance of the fact that it is actually happening. 
  2. When people get angry or feel misunderstood, admit to their feelings and maximize your communication around the benefits to be gained and how you can guide them through.
  3. If people start bargaining and ask ‘if they really have to be part of the change’, craft a pathway for them where you show them how they can move from A to B by breaking it down into manageable steps.
  4. When people are low in their energy and don’t see the point of trying, spark motivation and inspire with encouragement – it is all about the mindset. 

People are generally wary of Change. When embarking on a journey of digital transformation, it is key to keep this in mind. You may need to create approaches to spark motivation and create opportunities for them to embrace the change. Once you get a sense of people’s experiences, you can guide them towards acceptance, satisfaction and above all – happiness.

Find yourself in a similar situation of Digital Transformation and Change and haven’t tackled the challenges yet? We’re happy to share more about how we can help your teams embrace change. Drop us a message at hello@hatchstudio.co