Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How to Build a High-Performance Digital Organization

Forward-thinking means to focus on the future, even a few steps ahead, to build long-term prosperity.

Due to the fierce competition and unprecedented uncertainty, the pressures from stakeholders, and “keep the light on” mentality, many organizations only focus on short-term profitability, with ignorance of forward-thinking and long-term vision, the life cycle of Fortune 500 companies have significantly shortened. Only very few forward-looking organizations have a long-term vision, transformational leadership, and well-tuned processes and capabilities to become a high mature Digital Master in pursuit of “Built to Last!” What are the characteristics of a forward-looking digital organization, and how to overcome the challenges of building a successful business in the long run?

Collaboration Enforcement: Building and sustaining dynamics in a workforce are about collaboration with everyone at any level. Collaboration happens in that space between people in relationships receptively and thoughtfully interacting with interest and cares for one another's needs and activities. Understanding and recognizing that everyone plays a "piece of the pie," imagine the true meaning when you say "Teamwork." Giving everyone a voice in how the organization and the people in it can prosper and thrive. Management would have to convince from a value perspective. What are the costs to an organization if employees aren't getting along if there are problems with management, and if no one is communicating? What is the value to an organization if internal conflicts can be mitigated and turned into something more productive? Do everything you can to provide the opportunity to succeed, and then if it does not work, make a change. Make the forum and encouragement to debate on any issue, without being judgemental and without taking things personally. High levels of employee engagement will help, apart from a culture that respects individual or group opinion.

Trust Building: People in business often have difficulty speaking with each other, and the outcome of the conversation can be demotivating, or worse. Especially these days when people are so busy! Building trust by not only saying the right things but acting in a manner equivalent to your words. Doing it well is about the words chosen which in turn influences tone. Attention paid to that solves a lot of problems and reduces the barriers to collaboration, social interaction, and forward-thinking. The platinum rule - asking others how they wish to be treated. This means open communication. Asking others how they work best. What makes them tick. Treat people with courtesy, respect, and empathy. Each employee is a unique individual, not just a "pair of hands." Treat them as such and it is amazing what can be accomplished. All this builds team collaboration. How is this achieved? By progressive team meetings and workshops coaching individuals, sharing knowledge, proactively discussing negotiation, conflict management, etc. Whenever people feel respected and needed in an organization, it provides an opportunity for more social interaction and even collaboration. Forward-thinking is all about the plans of the organization and how the employees feel they can contribute to it - getting and using employees' input/s in the decision process helps further build collaboration and forward-thinking. When people feel apart of a process, they are encouraged to see it succeed.

Forward-thinking Leadership: Being able to foster a workplace that thrives on collaboration, social interaction, and forward-thinking is dependent on those at the top - executive level. Leadership is required to gain commitment and engagement, rather than just compliance with work tasks. It is also required to ensure endurance, a persistence that mere authority can’t generate. In some respects, the role of a business leader is to attain those things that management alone is unlikely to attain. A position of authority may give a manager a ‘jump start’ in achieving business missions, but commitment may fade without leadership. Leaders, must accept responsibility for others, model values by example, develop the team through praise, and shape a culture of collaboration, social interaction, and forward-thinking. Leaders must encourage and facilitate the empowerment of all of their colleagues. Empower them to make sound decisions and be innovative in their way of thinking. Drivers such as communication, performance clarity, and feedback, organizational culture, rewards, and recognition, relationships with managers and peers, career development opportunities, and knowledge of the organization's goals and vision are some of the factors that facilitate employee engagement.

Technology, Culture, and Process alignment: Use the technology as the enabler of communication, collaboration, social interaction, and forward-thinking. The levels between the executive and hands-on employees (departmental leaders, team leaders) need to be monitored to make sure the message and how it is interpreted or perceived is carried out the way it was meant, so the company as whole moves in the same direction. Culture is crucial to creating collaboration, interaction, and forward-thinking or any other favorable attribute. You could start by asking or finding out what the current culture is - especially at different levels. Does the leader talk about collaboration, interaction, and the future? How do their actions make these tangible? What about the leadership team and managers? Do they know those are critical attributes? Do they see those in action? If you can map the culture you have and the culture you want, and you have efficient processes to enable transformation with strong management support, then you can begin making the actions happen.

Holistic Performance Management: If you want collaboration, and build a forward-thinking organization, each responsibility of each job within the organization should be evaluated based not on the impact of the individual or a department's goals, but on the overall impact of the enterprise. Building and maintaining trust, transparency, respect, and envisioning workforce, collaboration, and forward-thinking are frequently retarded or prevented by how organizations define success on the individual or departmental performance level. Two critical areas that require focus are compensation and the definition of performance success. Set the relevant performance metrics to manage those who are roadblocks to collaboration. Everyone should get a fair chance upfront to join the team. However, if they are not positive influences, regardless of skills, they will bring the team down. Avoid silo thinking, individual goals typically are goals that are based on a subsection of a department's goals, or a division goal. The larger the organization, the more and more isolated these goals become when considered in the context of the organization's enterprise goals. Each one of the departments measures on their own success. Often in these environments, one finds that the department actually rewards or incentivizes behaviors that enhance the appearance of the performance of the department at the expense of other parts of the organization.

Forward-looking organizations have visionary leadership, highly trustful, highly collaborative workforce, the refined culture of innovation, well-tuned business processes, technologies, and capabilities, and they not only measure efficiency - doing things right but also measure effectiveness - doing the right things via holistic view, they can strike the right balance of short-term quarterly result with a long-term perspective, and they cannot only keep things functioning but engage employees and delight customers as well, take the long journey with the goal to become a digital master from “good to great,” and “built to last”!


Excellent! Particularly useful given the intenses debates raging on Amazon's very different approach on getting high performance from it's people!

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