Make the CoE the Guiding Coalition
The second of the accelerators is to ‘build and evolve a guiding coalition’. The guiding coalition is the team at the core of the right hand side of the organisation. An “effective sun in your dynamic new solar system” whose members must come together from across an organisation and “win the big opportunity”. This has obvious parallels with the Centre of Excellence (or Enablement) it is recommended forms the core of any RPA implementation, since both would exist to drive the success of automation as an opportunity. The advantage of using John Kotter’s model is that the Centre of Excellence (CoE) is not only about implementing robots but also about implementing a new organisational agility using automation as the means to generate urgency and real change.
Given the right support the Guiding Coalition and the primary CoE are one and the same thing. A useful distinction is the CoE as compared to the Robotic Operating Team (ROT). The CoE is a group of individuals from across the business who are willing to be the leaders, decision makers, and change agents with the emotional commitment and will to exploit the automation opportunity quickly and well by following Kotter’s model closely. The ROT might implement the first automation opportunities but would ultimately live in the left hand side of the organisation. There to drive incremental change once the big opportunity had been proven and had become an established process and a differentiated business model.
One of the difficulties faced in the implementation of Kotter’s model is the amount of time and resources that should be allocated to the right hand side of the organisation. One of the key advantages of the use of automation as the opportunity to drive urgency, is that its success will shift time from left to right. A goal of guiding coalition members would be to use automation to give more balance to their own use of time, taking time away from day to day operations to give to more transformative business change. A self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.
Automation Drives Culture Change
Building agility into an established business requires an organisational shift. Successfully delivering automation requires that people think a little differently about their relationship with technology. The target of delivering ‘a robot for every person’, can be used to drive the organisational change an established business requires by changing people’s relationships with technology in those establishments.
Being able to relate to the opportunity and understand the impact that you yourself can have in building urgency is important. Automation is a technology people can relate to. There are any number of examples of automation driving positive results from the top down. This is the world of ‘traditional’ RPA. What is less well documented, but possibly of more importance in building momentum and urgency, is bottom up automation. I think this is where automation can be ‘emotionally compelling’ to people inside the organisation. If I can myself use a software robot to save me a few hours each day, or improve the experience for myself and my customer in our interactions, then that will provide emotional attachment. We may require a little help with the technology of course but that doesn’t prevent us from imagining it. After all we should at least know our own jobs. This changes our relationship with the technology and makes it significantly more compelling. This change in mindset can be taken into the delivery of more complex, process automation. I believe this will drive more support for automation in all its forms, and subsequently drive opportunities in related technologies such as artificial intelligence.
As an established businesses relationship with technology changes the opportunities for its use will spread. As a result, the importance of agility in getting to feedback faster and proving that a business model or product will work, becomes evermore critical.