Changing old habits is hard. Whether those habits are tied to personal, health or professional growth, the path to ditching an old habit tends to be a journey, rather than a quick change. Habits are hard to break, often because they are part of a comfort zone. This is true for individuals and organizations.
“Adopting new technology platforms and then sticking with them, even when the pace of business picks up, can be frustrating when you’re accustomed to performing a task a different way. Relentlessly emphasizing the positive and celebrating small wins can help keep teams engaged and reduce the temptation to stray back to more familiar processes.”
Digital transformation has been a buzz word in the business world for years and in many ways success in digital transformation heavily depends on changing old habits. About two years ago, digital transformation became a central part of my professional life, when I joined the executive leadership team of Endpoint, a mobile-first title and escrow company and subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation. First American launched Endpoint as part of the company’s commitment to applying state-of-the-art technologies to improve the real estate transaction for all the parties involved.
Digital Transformation Crossroads Sparks Insights
For over 25 years, my career involved facets of management and oversight of various First American escrow and title operations. At Endpoint, I am applying my expertise in title and escrow to help Endpoint deliver a digital real estate closing experience from start to finish via a suite of web, iOS and Android apps. It’s both a personal and organizational digital transformation for me as we are taking the highly paper-based process of traditional title and escrow and creating Endpoint’s app-centric experience.
Of course, anyone that has purchased a home or works in real estate or mortgage finance knows there are a lot of different players involved in a real estate transaction – the buyer, seller, their respective real estate agents, lenders, and title and escrow professionals. Each of these players is likely to have different degrees of comfort with digital technology, so it’s not a complete stretch to say that each real estate transaction Endpoint supports involves some level of digital transformation.
So, you could say that I’ve quickly become an expert in digital transformation in the last two years as I’ve spearheaded my own personal journey, played a key role in Endpoint’s journey, and helped our teams coach consumers and real estate professionals through digital transformation of the real estate closing experience. At the crossroads of these three journeys, I’ve found some common threads between success breaking old personal habits and leading a successful digital transformation effort.
The Power of Positive and Constant Reinforcement
When we’re trying to change a personal habit, it’s helpful to have a friend or significant other encouraging you to keep focused on the change, especially when you’re tempted to fall back in to comfortable old behaviors. The same is true, and arguably even more true, when pursuing digital transformation. Adopting new technology platforms and then sticking with them, even when the pace of business picks up, can be frustrating when you’re accustomed to performing a task a different way. Relentlessly emphasizing the positive and celebrating small wins can help keep teams engaged and reduce the temptation to stray back to more familiar processes.
Expect Setbacks, Just Don’t Over-React
Remember, it’s a journey, not a straight line from point A to point B. In any journey, there are twists and turns, so you should expect a setback or two when embarking on a digital transformation journey or breaking an old habit. It’s not the setback, it’s the bounce back that matters. Evaluate what led to the setback, adjust your approach, if needed, then get back on track. For example, just because you strayed from your new diet for a day, doesn’t mean you should quit. Likewise, if your team strays from new digital processes, just help them re-commit to the plan and your momentum will turn in the right direction.
Keep Moving Forward
When the going gets tough, just keep going. Tackling difficult to break personal habits or driving behavioral changes across large teams and with clients takes a long-term commitment. Progress will come, but there will times when the progress may feel slow. Stay focused on the long-term goal and keep moving forward. More likely than not, you’ll be surprised at the progress you’ve made in a relatively short period of time.
I find it helpful to keep in mind that one synonym for journey is adventure. And adventures, like digital transformation or the challenge of breaking an old habit, are meant to be enjoyed, from beginning to endpoint.
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Anne McCauley is the chief operating officer at Endpoint, a mobile-first title and escrow company and subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation.