Episode 69: People First, Tech Second: Leading with Kindness in Times of Digital Transformation

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Gino Degregori12/21/2023

The Journey of Digital Transformation

For over 16 years, Gino Degregori of Bravo Consulting Group has been helping organizations adopt new technologies. He started his company in 2007 focused on SharePoint, which was an early example of digital transformation. Gino reflects on how much the world has changed over that time. While the cloud and AI like Microsoft 365 Copilot can make things easier, Gino cautions that we shouldn't lose core human skills and practices. Just like with flying planes, you still need the fundamentals before turning everything over to autopilot. Adoption takes more than just initial training - it requires sustainable learning and continued maturity.

Gino reminds us that the concept of digital transformation has always been there, with technology evolving to help make it faster and sooner. But he asks whether technology is truly making transformation easier when fundamentals like writing effective emails are still not being done well. There can be an over-reliance on technology to solve problems, when we still need the core disciplines and practices.

The Importance of Sustainable Adoption

Gino shares an example of a government agency Bravo has worked with for over 4 years on adopting Microsoft 365. They invested heavily in training and change management, which allowed them to quickly transition to remote work during COVID. Now they are focused on more advanced features and updates.

As Gino emphasizes, adoption must be continually nurtured, or users may revert to simpler tools like Excel. It's critical to keep investing in training and solutions so people fully utilize the tools and see the value. He highlights the need for sustainable adoption, not treating it as a one-time event with some initial training. Using the example of teaching his son to bowl, #shifthappens podcast host Dux Raymond Sy, AvePoint Chief Brand Officer, explains the need for “guardrails” to help people easily do the right things and have a positive experience that builds over time.

Measuring Success and ROI

It's critical to quantify the value of digital transformation through concrete use cases. For this client, Bravo helped reduce help desk tickets through FAQs and knowledge sharing. They also measured adoption across tools like SharePoint, Teams, and Power Platform, along with the growth in data usage. These discrete business metrics allow you to track ROI, not just broad goals around collaboration.

According to Gino, they were able to show a measurable reduction in help desk tickets and increase in usage across their key platforms. Dux emphasizes defining specific use cases like help desk ticket volume or project management processes rather than vague notions of improving collaboration. Discrete metrics make it easier to measure and communicate the value.

The Power of Transformational Partnerships

At Bravo Consulting Group, their vision focuses on people over technology. Gino looks for transformational, not transactional partnerships. He credits his 14+ year relationship with AvePoint as an example of transparency, abundance mindset, and elevating together. Bravo also partners with others across different industries and verticals with this same mentality of being kind leaders making an impact.

Gino explains that their vision statement is about attracting and creating kind leaders who impact customers, partners, and communities. He emphasizes shifting from a scarcity to abundance mindset, where there is so much opportunity and technology available. Partnerships should focus on transformation and elevation, not simple transactions.

Dux agrees completely, highlighting the community impact they have beyond just business outcomes. He commends Gino's personal involvement with his alma mater to develop future leaders in technology and kindness. There is so much work to be done, and many companies that partnerships can support.

Focus on People First, Technology Second

Gino's key advice is to focus on your mission and people, then everything else will follow. Don't expect an immediate overnight success with AI or other technologies. Make incremental progress focused on what your organization truly needs. And lead with kindness - it can drastically improve engagement and outcomes.

As he emphasizes, technology will always change, but we must remember our humanity first. Gino explains that at the end of the day we are still humans, and there should be a balance of embracing technology while staying grounded in our core values of compassion.

He is reminded of a shirt he saw recently that said "Humankind" with a space inserted to emphasize being both human and kind. This mindset is crucial as organizations navigate digital transformation and an increased reliance on technology.

The Role of Kind Leadership

Gino expands on the importance of leading with kindness, which is another core value at Bravo Consulting Group. He has seen firsthand the tremendous impact it can have on company culture, employee engagement, and relationships when leaders embrace compassion.

It may seem counterintuitive to focus on soft skills when discussing digital transformation. But Gino argues that technology will come and go - it's the people who matter most. With so much pressure and change these days, even a little extra kindness can make a big difference in how teams collaborate and perform.

Looking Ahead to a Podcast on Kindness

As the conversation wraps up, Gino lets Dux know about his upcoming "Kind Leader" podcast that will launch in early 2023. He plans to feature diverse guests from technologists to teachers who exemplify kindness in leadership. It's a perfect extension of the themes discussed in this episode - using your platform to make a positive impact on the world.

Even in a podcast focused on technology like #shifthappens, it's clear that values like empathy, compassion, and elevating others are universal. They underscore all aspects of business, from digital transformation to partnerships and leadership. By focusing on people first, the technology will follow.

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