Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to Improve Digital Fitness via Breaking down Bureaucracies

We need to choose to continue to learn, grow, and empower people to learn and grow as well.

Digital is about changes, closer to reality is that 'change' is continuously happening in such a dynamic environment of a company. The desires of stakeholders, clients, and employees are evolving naturally, not to mention that many organizations today are facing a more radical digital transformation. What is the digital leadership all about, how to cultivate digital attitudes to break down bureaucracies in accelerating digital transformation in organizations or our society?

Digital leadership, or leadership overall, is about setting the direction. The very concept of 'leading' implies that leaders and followers are trying to move somewhere, with the leader making more of a contribution to the direction of that movement. Does this also imply that the direction, the very purpose is one the followers share with the leader? But most leaders also, or often exclusively, pursue the purpose of leading - satisfying the desire for power to give directions - almost regardless of what that direction is. Therefore, in the digital age, the status quo only cannot make one a real leader, if they don’t have a purpose of leading or lack of insight or vision upon the directions. The very purpose of leadership is to drive progression towards a common human goal.

Digital attitudes are about curiosity. Being experimental and persistent. Many senior executives are closed to the possibility that their established world-views could somehow be less right or perfect than the ones that got them to where they are now at the top. There is overwhelming practical evidence that a few underdog players in digital transformation are what make the most difference. People normally 'close' the boundaries of the system, so that less energy is transferred and, therefore, the fewer changes happen in the system. We all try to 'close' the system, so to say, to reduce its complexity. But the adaptive attitude is to manage its complexity via agility enhancement. The differentiator between a digital leader and a laggard is not about the title and authority, more about the mindsets and attitude: the intellectual curiosity, risk tolerance, persistence, and creativity, etc. 

Dynamic and changing digital organizations cannot operate with stable, unchanging people: Mostly the management wants to see a different result of all combined efforts. So methods or people held responsible for those results 'has to change.' Most people are quite willing to put the effort in to change. What they don't want is 'to be changed by others.' That calls out for resistance. So let them be part of the direction, speed, and the way you are heading. Change always starts at the individual level. It is challenging, and at times frustrating to working as a 'digital pivot’ in bureaucracies whose very DNA acts as an immune system to new ideas and innovation. People must first be open to seeing and understanding that their status quo is probably anything but positives. It is only then that there is any real potential to change anything, such as processes, business models, or technology, to open some peoples' minds, or, at least, creating the conditions for them to do so themselves can be extremely difficult. These are clear roles and authority structures, processes, and dynamic prioritization all wrapped up in a smart and adaptive operations plan that turns out to be most critical.

We need to choose to continue to learn, grow, and empower people to learn and grow too. There comes a time when we each have to hold ourselves accountable for our own actions, thoughts, and belief. It is the time to break down the organizational bureaucracy and make the change going smoothly at the digital age of information abundance, design empathy, and people-centricity.


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