Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Duel Forces to Run “Balanced” IT

 To stay competitive, businesses today have to gain the deep understanding of duel forces, manage digital balance cycles and reach the next level of organizational maturity.

The journey of digital transformation is all about weighing the key business elements impacting change such as people, process, and technology, blend coherent business ingredients, and balance the multiple duel forces, to create the business harmony and make a solid digital transformation.

Innovation & Standardization: Innovation is a management process to transform novel ideas for achieving its business value. IT led innovation is more science than art, to manage a healthy innovation lifecycle in a systematic matte and provide the sustained competitive advantage. Innovation comes with a risk of failure, usually not well tolerated in a market governed by risk-allergic mindset or unstructured management discipline. Standards are a form of embodied technical knowledge accessible to all types of business that enable more effective innovative product and process development. To improve innovation success rate, the business needs a level of guidance, set the standard, and build an effective framework for managing innovation portfolio effectively. However, overly rigid rules or processes will stifle innovation; being “unruly” incurs risk as well. People in tactic or operational management usually face a hard time to understand that the duel forces - innovation and standardization, actually can go hand-in-hand together in an appropriate way. In fact, the business must strike the right balance and consider the digital continuum between innovation and standardization.

Push & Pull: Digital transformation is driven by both visible (hard) and invisible (soft) forces, from multiple directions. Often the emergent digital technologies are imposing hard forces of digital disruption and change drivers, continually push the organization to reach the tipping point of digitalization. The soft business factors such as communication or culture can either catalyze changes or drag down the business speed. If you only take the visible business factors such as business process or technology alone as an element of the strategy execution, you may miss the point and head to the troubles, or things will be slow down again after adoption. IT is adaptively rational, “Push” and “Pull” are the duel forces businesses management must master in order to “run, grow, and transform” their organization at the steadfast speed. From the business management perspective, for every thorny business problem, push to explore multiple resolutions; take time to look at every situation from different angles (Management PoVs, Customer PoVs, Supplier PoVs, etc); also pull all necessary business resources to develop innovative business solutions. Continually accelerating changes in IT consumption and production require faster responses and better performance measurement, it is important to push staffs (including management themselves) to get out of the comfort zone, but also pull all critical business elements to build differentiated competency.

Simplicity & Complexity: Organizations are indeed becoming more complex. IT is by nature, even more complex, behind every intuitive user interface, there is complexity in it. Complex problems rarely have simple solutions. On the other side though, the goal of running digital IT is not to complicate things but to simplify and optimize for getting elegant solutions. From information management perspective, it’s about how an enterprise will leverage information to power its business by optimizing the value of information while minimizing risks. Many tough problems get solved elegantly, but it may have been very complex for someone to implement it. When framing and solving problems, initial solutions are often more complex than required, and then adoption and progress come with simplification. In the corporate scope, there are hierarchical complexity, environmental complexity, information complexity, collaboration complexity, governance complexity, etc. From a business management perspective, simplicity should become the rule of communication and innovation." There are always constraints, so simplicity implies to build as little as possible. From the organizational structure perspective, some organizations are too complex and need to be more flexible and re-organized in a simple way by using a clear measure of complexity. Simplicity and complexity are duel forces of running an elegant digital organization. "Simplexity" is the portmanteaus word to reflect the digital new normal.

Digital IT is the key element of leading changes nowadays, leveraging duel forces to strike the right balance and delivering tangible and recognizable business value is the long-term management approach. To stay competitive, forward-looking organizations have to gain the deep understanding of these duel forces, manage digital balance cycles and reach the next level of organizational maturity.

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