Is Empathy the Secret to Digital Transformation Success?
June 25, 2019
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking about digital transformation with insurance industry leaders. Along the way, I heard an important key to digital transformation success that surprised me. That key? Empathy.
Sean Burgess, Chief Claims Officer and Senior Vice President at USAA, spoke about the importance of empathy at Connected Claims USA. USAA is seeking to implement empathy across its entire digital channel. For their organization, empathy equals a combination of speed and ease of use. According to Sean, scaling efforts to humanize digital experiences means being willing to measure all initiatives and seek continuous improvement.
Empathy also plays a critical role for those workers facing job changes because of business process automation. At Digital Transformation 360° Accelerating Intelligent Automation Success—an event in Chicago hosted by my company, Genus Technologies—strategies for understanding those folks’ perspectives were at the forefront of the discussion from making digital transformation efforts successful.
I heard strategies like frequent check-ins and town-hall style communication updates to share goals and progress reports. But, there was something else they shared that struck me: it’s critical to identify what matters to the people working at the front-lines of digital transformation efforts.
Certainly, many will appreciate having repetitive and mundane tasks eliminated. At the same time, there was a recognition at our event that some of the people doing tasks soon to be automated really like the work they are doing and don’t want to see it change. I think that hesitation is more than the usual change aversion. It reflects our innate love of mastery and the discomfort we feel while being a novice at something new. As Erica Anderson writes in Be Bad First, Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future, competency can be a trap that makes us hesitate to believe in our own capabilities and capacity to gain new skills at any point in our careers.
As leaders, we need to do more. Of course, we should explain business goals and advancement opportunities to help those facing changes because of digital transformation. But, we also need to empathize with those facing a loss of mastery in their area of employment. Doing so acknowledges what matters to them. Better, it helps create the right environment that allows those employees to believe they can take the steps needed to make the leap to excellence throughout the digital transformation process.
— Alex Makovetsky