Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Three Digital Mandates

Organizations today must take the holistic digital management practices to harness cross-functional communication and collaboration, increase business plasticity and flexibility, encourage their changes agents and innovator.

Due to increasing pace of changes and continuous digital disruptions, either fast-growing businesses or well-established organizations have to continuously adapt and speed up, proactively build business competency and fine tune the organizational changeability. The digital world is so information-intensive and technology-driven, with blurred territories and hyperconnected nature, Digitalization implies the full-scale changes in the way that the business is conducted. Here are three digital mandates for steering business ships in the right directions and charting the path to significant business transformation.

Take a holistic lens over tunnel vision: 
Digitalization is not just about adopting the latest technologies as a single dimensional enhancement, but a multidimensional evolution based on a holistic view via socio-cultural, socio-technical, socioeconomic, organizational, scientific, philosophical, psychological, and artistic, etc, lens. These dimensions interact and mutually influence each other. If traditional organizations in the industrial age are silo-based, with overly rigid business hierarchy, and hierarchical business relationship; and then the digital organizations are dynamic living things with hyper-connecting nature, and flatter organizational structure. Therefore, silo-based traditional management practices need to be updated to the holistic digital management discipline. The word "holism" itself refers to something that transcends an adding or combination of thinking ways, to understand things as the whole, with interconnected parts and interdependent relationships. Look at the digital business as a collection of subsystems, the degree of business responsiveness depends on how those subsystems interact with each other. those interactions can be structural, technical, informational, or human. The digital organizations are people-centric social systems which can be perceived via the lens of psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, education, communication, philosophy, etc. Therefore, the multidisciplinary approach is no longer “nice have,” but must have digital management practices. Digital leaders today must be able to manifest a clear vision, be innovative outliers who can discover the new angles to wiggle through and envision a holistic business picture. They are also Systems Thinking practitioners who can see the interconnectivity between the things, diagnose the root cause of either old or emerging problems and solve them effectively. In fact, running a successful business is an iterative problem-solving continuum.

Apply nonlinear thinking over linear logic: Traditional management is based on linear logic and reductionistic management discipline - the business as a whole is the sum of functional pieces. It reluctantly works in the considerably static industry age with knowledge scarcity. However, we are moving from a static and linear business world to a dynamic and hyper-connected digital era, the reason linear thinking is in many cases, not so effective for solving the today’s problem because there is always a temptation to use simple linear models to understand highly interdependent and nonlinear business scenarios. Nowadays information has increased exponentially and knowledge is only a click away. Imagine the digital dynamic that comes in due to these characteristics (less or hybrid structure, fewer rules and regulations, diversification, ambiguity, unpredictability, nonlinearity, increased flux, and unprecedented digital convenience brought by powerful lightweight technologies) working and impacting together. Digital boundaries are not "sharp" lines; they are fluid to adapt to the tides of changes and waves of disruptions. So, linear thinking perhaps leads to either tunnel vision or band-aid symptom fixing, without true understanding. In fact, the shift from linear logical to nonlinear systems thinking is an evolution at the mind level. Thus, it’s strategic imperative to encourage digital leaders and professionals looking at things at the wider aspects around any problem space and then applying nonlinear thinking to enforce understanding the effect of imposing boundaries within that space, in order to frame the right problem and solve it in a systematic way.


Influence & persuasion over Command & Control: Most traditional organizations in the industrial age practice Command & Control management discipline to get works done. The management's job is to control the work by commanding the people. People perform based on fear, not on self-actualization. The problem of such management approach is that you can control people’s behavior, but not their mind. It could further cause unhealthy competition, internal politics, or micromanagement. Digital is the age of people-centricity, digital organizations look for accountability, passion for work, pay attention to both performance and potential, and build the culture of learning and innovation. The leaders’ role is to empower their people to reach their full potential. Creating a balancing act is a challenge for today's leaders to lead by influence, not brute forces. The digital leadership means to give a clear direction of what's expected, and then allow people to choose how they get there. Control comes into play when one monitors the process to see it is reaching the desired vision which has a managerial element. Persuasiveness is so interrelated with influence, Influence can be used to define a good leader who all have a vision and influence with that vision or toward that vision or to contribute to that vision. Digital leaders make the influence and empower their people for achieving more via autonomy and creativity.

Digital leaders and professionals must keep learning and growing. There are no excuses for businesses to stay in the silo, just react to changes, or keep “We always do things like that” mentality. Organizations today must take the holistic digital management practices to harness cross-functional communication and collaboration, increase business plasticity and flexibility, encourage their changes agents and innovators, constantly improve the business and see changes as the opportunity while digital leaders should apply nonlinear thinking and lead via influence, nut brute forces. The most critical and yet overlooked foundation of being a real leader is in choosing a destination that creates a better world!

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