Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Three Barriers Stop Businesses & IT from Reaching Digital Premium

 It is worth the effort to break down silos, get out of comfort zone, prepare the future proactively, in order for individuals and businesses to reach digital premium and maturity.

Many organizations are on the journey of digital transformation, but it is the path not being fully discovered and explored yet, there are many roadblocks and hidden barriers along the way. There are also both pains and gains to bridge businesses and our society from the industrial age with knowledge scarcity and change inertia to the digital era with information abundance and innovation flow. There is still a long way to go from the classic flavor of industrial management approaches to the dynamic style of digital leadership practices. Here are three barriers on the way to stop IT or the business as a whole from reaching high mature digital premium.

Silo: The majority of organizations in the industrial age apply reductionist management style to operate the business with functional silos, with the goals to improve a certain level of efficiency. However, silos don't seem to fit within emerging 'networked,' and highly collaborative digital organizational forms, because the increasing speed of change requires frequent cross-functional communication and collaboration. Yet many business managers still apply old silo management mindsets to run always-on and always-connected businesses. The result is about the higher risk of conflict and inertia, not something the organization wants in a global business environment that demands innovation, speed, responsiveness, and flexibility to succeed. The digital shift has come to a change in organizational forms away from the traditional rigid hierarchies managed through command and control styles to more fluid and responsive network forms. To improve decision effectiveness and digital fluidity, it’s important to build a high level of trust within the upper rankings of management, share the same vision, set the strategic goals, being able to coordinate and communicate effectively across departments, and manage business performance to ensure the organization as a whole is more superior to the sum of pieces. From IT management perspective, it’s critical to break down silos, bridge the gaps, and fix dysfunctional roles and relationships between business and IT, in order for the business as a whole to reach digital premium.

Complacency: To reach digital premium, complacency is probably the biggest challenge either individuals or organizations have to overcome. Because organizations and individuals that are complacent do not look for new opportunities or hazards. Some say it is not complacency that is at the heart of the resistance. It is the unknown and being afraid of new things and it will be the same for the word "complacency." A complacency mind gets used to reacting, not being proactive. If you stick to the comfort zone too long, you might lose the “mojo” to move forward. The point is when complacency sprouts up, people with such mindset stop flowing their energy up towards the positive directions (learning new things, building new capabilities, exploring new opportunities, etc), and then, their energy more often flows down to the negative or unprofessional direction. It also becomes the root cause of the culture of mediocrity. Numerous changes or business transformations run, complete, and then slowly crumble away as people slowly revert to old ways of doing things, while few creative teams build phenomenal long-lived transformations and make the difference. Once that complacency barrier is broken, a positive change process can commence. From IT management perspective, the proactive IT should look forward, focus on the way ahead via calculating the potential value of IT with a normal/best/worst case scenario in the future with near/mid/ long-term goals and creates a multidimensional map on how to get out of comfort zone fearlessly and achieve the high-level digital premium.  

Ignorance: Digital is full of uncertainty, velocity, complexity, and ambiguity. There is no prescribed change formula, or one size fits all change scenario. Ignorance of unknown is another pitfall which could fail change or transformation effort. Businesses are different, people are different, the very goal behind each change initiative is also different. Therefore, you have to be humble to realize there are many things you know you don’t know and perhaps even more which you don't know what you don't know. But it doesn’t mean you should just ignore the unknown, the positive leadership approach is to analyze circumstance objectively and even predict the future with a certain degree of accuracy, to prepare the “VUCA” new normal wisely. Ignore the trivial, but pay more attention to the significant details. Change is the team effort, encourage all employees to provide feedback, ask questions, and participate change proactively, to expand their view of the business and gain a holistic understanding of changes. Until that happens, you will continue on the lives in blindness.

Digital premium means a lot, such as business effectiveness, agility, innovation, intelligence, and people-centricity. organizations which operate this way have happy staff and customers, superior business capabilities, strong balance sheet, and positive social influence upon the environment. Therefore, it is worth the effort to break down silos, get out of comfort zone, prepare the future proactively, in order to transform the organization in a holistic way.


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