Sunday, April 26, 2015

Is Digital Boundary a “Sharp Line” or a “Fluid Wave”?

Digital boundaries are not "sharp" lines; they are fluid to adapt to changes.

Digitalization means hyper-connectivity, over-complexity, and interdependence; it blurs the functional border, the organizational border, the industry vertical border and knowledge domain border, it blurs the border between professional life and personal life, the local and globe, the art and science, etc. So does digital still have a boundary, what does the digital boundary look like? A “Sharp Line” or a “Fluid Wave”? “Black & White” or the “Full Spectrum of Color” and with "Many Shades in between"?

Digital boundaries are not "sharp" lines; they are fluid to adapt to changes: The digital responsibilities overlap each other. Groups of people can and do often change from one "set" of responsibilities to another one ( they moved from one territory into another). The problem with setting all of your boundaries in black and white is that others don't and it can lead to limited learning and tunnel vision. A corporate example: A company sets up a decentralized organization using its own management requirements to set the boundaries. Those boundaries tend to become black and white and much like country borders. Unfortunately, their customers have not all agreed to organize their companies in accordance with those guidelines. Service to customers suffers because the boundaries are different. To accommodate this, you have to have at least two sets of boundaries, one for geographic responsibilities and one set to serve your customers. The point is that too restrict boundary setting will cause silo thinking, overly rigid business processes, and negative internal competition for limited resources, with ignorance of ultimate organizational goals as a whole. So digital boundaries are not sharp lines, they are fluid to adapt to changes.

Digital boundary is not for dividing, but for enforcing mutual understanding: Boundaries is indeed a very broad term that encompasses all sorts of things, strict or fluid; boundaries can be good, bad, or indifferent depending on the application. This is space for learning, an opportunity to examine our own thoughts, beliefs and actions, to experience what it is like to agree to disagree and still remain engaged, an opportunity to change our own perceptions, to recognize that we cannot change other people only ourselves, before making influence on societies, to recognize that we are responsible for promoting or dissolving our own thoughts, emotions, and actions. So we have to have the ability to ask the hard questions and engage in meaningful dialogue even if we do not agree with one another we can indeed agree to disagree yet, stay engaged with one another because the dialogue is important, yet, the harmony is priceless. We do not have to agree with one another in order to learn from and with one another. We need these types of relationships so that when we find ourselves blinded by negative emotions (hate, prejudice, anger, fear, or envy, etc,); we don't impulsively react in such a way that adds to more harm and suffering.

Digital boundary shall not be set by personal interest, but for solving the problem with effectiveness and efficiency. We are living in a complex world where inventions, developments, and conflicts are continuously changing and that makes it impossible to have a complete knowledge and understanding of any issue. We all bring different perspectives and our boundaries might have changed based on the open conversations and taking the time to thoughtfully think about the specific issue of boundaries. Sometimes we define boundaries for ourselves based on what we feel we are skilled at or capable of. If we don't feel adequate for the task, we might dismiss ourselves from responsibility. Anywhere in the world, the systems and procedures apply and impose boundaries between those who teach and those who learn, those who lead and those who follow, those who have power and those who are powerless. Many come to believe that boundaries are not tangible places of resistance but are only self-imposed limitations we place on ourselves to hide our own fear to move forward.

There’s “emotion boundary” during the journey from decision making to strategy execution. At every point in the organization, people need to be the key element in decision making. However, in order to stick to the issues and get things done, the emotion has to be taken out. This, of course, is after an empathetic review to come to a decision reflecting the best outcome possible. Emotions play a huge role in the front of the decision process to reflect the humanity of the organization, and not so much in the execution, keeping things on point. Since organizations are about people and digitization means people-centricity, and the execution is about driving efficiency and higher performance result.

The black and white boundaries continue to diminish in the 21st century due to the occurrence of increased economic integration among nations, characterized by the movement of people cultures across national and international borders, and the advanced digital technologies such as social computing. Still, the digital boundary with fluidity is a necessity for responsibility taking, problem-solving and efficiency achieving. There is much in the world we do not know nor understand and because of that limitation, we need to choose to continue to learn, grow and empower people to learn and grow too. It would be easy to get hooked into anger, outrage and revenge over all the inhumanities of humanity; but that would be repeating the same old habits of history. There comes a time when we each have to hold ourselves accountable for our own actions, thoughts, and beliefs. If we want inclusion, peace, harmony, love, respect and acceptance, then, we cannot be exclusionary, biased, hateful, vengeful, retaliatory of "other people." That would not be leading by example. It is the time to change at the digital age of information-abundance, design empathy, and people-centricity.


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