Friday, January 13, 2017

A Dozen Key Ingredients of Digital Philosophy

Both science and technology are grounded in philosophy. Philosophy is a Greek portmanteau of the love of wisdom.

Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, communication to process and capability both horizontally and vertically. Digital is the age elevated by the fast growth of information and lightweight digital technologies. Both science and technology are grounded in philosophy. Philosophy is a Greek portmanteau of the love of wisdom. Understanding digital philosophy is to better understand the evolution and harness its power to serve human purposes, and design the institutions and societies to be a well-balanced digital ecosystem with the abundance of energy and sustainable advantages. Here are a dozen key ingredients of digital philosophy.
Interconnectivity: In order to function, an enterprise has to be linked to the many and varied ‘touch points’ between itself and the marketplace environment of which it is a part. The enterprise is nothing more than a ‘switch’ in the network lattice of the ecosystem. Enterprises have always been parts of simple or complex eco-systems. That is the fundamental nature of the marketplace and the environment within which the enterprise functions. To understand the business or the world as a complex adaptive system requires an understanding of how things have come together, and being 'built.' Why should it matter if the internal organization is hierarchical and the ecosystem is lattice? The aspect which matters is ensuring that the enterprise is connected to all the appropriate eco-system, lattice or otherwise, touchpoints, and the interconnectivity does help elevate business agility and maturity.

Dynamism: Dynamism consists in being able to break away from the static, being proactive. Nature is dynamic, life is dynamic, and the digital ecosystem is dynamic. Digital organizations are becoming smarter at reaching consumers, in a targeted, highly responsive, deliberate way, and consumers are becoming smarter at consuming and providing direct feedback to the organization dynamically. Today, the emerging digital technology is the most important element in the new breed of digital capabilities which are rigor, but not rigid, standardized, but not lack innovation; mosaic, but not monolithic; it can be built on the fly and adapt to the change more seamlessly. Either for the individuals or the businesses, if you stick and restrict, you cannot be dynamic. You have to be open to change, innovative to thrive.

Differentiation: Digital is the age of people, each person is unique, there are no two snowflakes are the same. Being differentiated is to get out of the created mental boxes. Express yourself totally through whatever means. Stop creating boundaries, take long leaps, wide jumps, the challenge to live a life with a curious mind and discovering eyes, stretch your limitations. For the “digital enterprises,” transformation goes a step further and involves internalization of the outside the box thinking and digital conceptual model so that the newly required behaviors don't require the same kind of effort and vigilance. The change happens more smoothly. When people are comfortable to think differently with a set of digital minds, processes are robust, not overly rigid, digital technologies are efficient and convenient, the business has differentiated competency, and change mechanism is embedded into every aspect of the businesses, the transformation will happen naturally, and the organization as a whole will become more differentiated, high-responsive and high-mature.

Holism: Nature, world or the ecosystem sometimes are used interchangeably. It is all the products of a physically, chemically, biologically, chronologically, linguistically, technologically evolving nature, in that sequence. A business ecosystem is just like the natural ecosystem, first, it needs to be understood, then, needs to be well planned, and also needs to be thoughtfully renewed as well. The digital business today is not just working within the industry, but also permeating cross-ecosystem. Digital is the gigantic puzzle with many misplaced pieces, you have to put them all in the right places to discover the true meaning and unleash its full potential. Digital transformation is the scalable expansion toward multiple directions. Constantly improve the business and see change as an opportunity while keeping a holistic overview of the business are the core messages. Hence, understanding digital holism should be the digital resolution for today’s business leaders and professionals.

Balance: The universe is characterized by duality. One needs to only think for a few moments and all around us, the examples of duality are apparent: good – bad, darkness – light, anode-cathode etc. There’s always an invisible third force which holds them in balance. The past and future, for example, are held in balance by “now.” Thus, rather than a two-dimensional continuum from positive – negative, existence depends upon relationships which are three-dimensional (triangular). The importance of this third force is to strike the right balance in the natural dynamism. It shall also guide our thinking, our action, and our collective perspectives. Digital is such a balanced ecosystem as well, to keep inclusive, dynamic and innovative.

Adaptation: Digital is a complex adaptive system. It is a nonlinear, dynamic and open system in a thermodynamic sense. Unlike a closed equilibrium system, it hence spontaneously self-organizes; generates patterns, structures, and complexity; and above all, create novelty over time. Adaptability is to be understood as the ability of a system to adapt itself efficiently and fast to changed circumstances. There are heuristics in defining these requirements for the integrated system, as well as the system elements. The human, software, firmware, hardware (automated, semi-automated, and/or manual functions) and the environment; further addressing the system life cycle. Organizations are made by people and people are the key element in self-adaptive organisms of today's digital organization.

Synchronization: When one startling changes, information moves across the flock very quickly and with nearly no degradation. In essence, that's the beauty of synchronization. Digital synchronization occurs on multiple levels, but it presupposes the ability of each 'link' to articulate their 'strategic intent.' Digital synchronization and strategic alignment occur when all parts of the choir sing their respective parts in harmony to achieve a higher purpose, the music as a symphony of voice. Establish strong information and data governance is a critical step in synchronizing information. At the strategic level, the goal of strong information governance is about the balance of the long-term focus with some quick wins.

Coorpetition: Competition is part of the natural dynamics of life. 'Competition' in biology means the cutthroat struggle for life's essentials. Competition may have different connotations and meanings under different situations or context. It is part of the genetic bias of every living thing in nature as a survival-seeking mindset. There are ample examples of competitive behaviors in the animal world. That is the basis for their survival and thriving lives. However, humans are intelligent beings, and digital is the age of abundance. If we really are as intelligent as we claim to be, we shall build principles and disciplines to discern the positive motivation or negative energy behind the competition. Encourage healthy competition for harnessing innovation, but discourage unhealthy competition via unprofessional way. With today’s digital hyperconnectivity and interdependence, it is time to step into the new hybrid era of corpetition (cooperation + competition) and reach the next level of digital harmony.

Simplexity: This portmanteau word mixing with two words "Simplicity," and "Complexity," well-describes the hybrid digital new normal philosophically. Either at the individual or the business level, we should follow the “simplicity” principle to handle the over-complex digital reality with “VUCA” characteristics -Velocity, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Considering there is no universally agreed definition of complexity, in the corporate scope, there are hierarchical complexity, environmental complexity, information complexity, collaboration complexity, and governance complexity, etc. The emergent digital complexities include hyper-connectivity, hyper-diversity, hyper-dynamism, and hyper-competition. The art of digital management is not to complicate things, but to eliminate unnecessary complication and encourage desired complexity, simplify and optimize the business for reaching the next level of maturity. It means to have enough process buy-in from the business that you always have a meaningful, prioritized management discipline to keep things simple, but not simpler. Simplicity should rule the day.

Inclusiversity: Digital is the age of people and how to unleash the collective human potential. Take a holistic approach with “inclusiversity” - the other portmanteau word, means creating a work environment where all employees can reach their full potential, it's something an organization must work on continuously. You need to focus on the commonalities that exist between people. Also, look at diversity from a business context - how to manage diverse work teams, how to use it as a competitive advantage. Also, deal with stereotypes by showing people that even two people within the same family can be different. Hence, it is wrong to stereotype against the whole population of a particular group. The key is to embed the concepts and practical application, etc, into everything within the organization ranging from all people practices to engage with the customer's community, partners, etc. The goal is to build a culture from top-down, where diversity of the thought and inclusion of mind are believed by "the people," as both necessary and vital to individual and collective success.

Fitness: Organizational fit means more about value adding or behavioral norms. And people need to be intentional about how they enter the role, focusing on understanding and respecting the people, culture, and history. Organizational fit, manifested in accepted and expected behavior, has a way of neutralizing differences. The failure to do this is one of the biggest causes of the derailment and the creator of the perception of poor fit. The fit is also not equal to be compliant only, in fact, the ‘group think’ is one of the most devastating pitfalls to team performance and certainly to a team’s ability to innovate. Digital fitness starts with mind fit - indeed, think differently, not always think the same as others, to bring unique insight, and then attitude fit and aptitude fit.

People-centricity: Hyper-connectivity enhances people-centricity. Digital business is more like the living system, not a mechanical spinning machine. However, complexity science and chaos theory, which demonstrate more of a biological model, are still fairly new and have not yet gained widespread acceptance and understanding. And dysfunctional social-political contexts are reprehensive of bad structure, not bad people. Combine that with the fact that most decision-makers grew up in the mechanical/command-and-control perspective, it's no wonder that we're not there yet, to be truly people-centric. But many enterprises are learning to be much more considerate in order to build customer-centric, employee-satisfied, high-performing and sustainable organizations by getting the structure right and developing the best and next practices.

The organic digital organization is a “living” thing and purposeful. A new meaning that supplants the existing set of meanings and the way they configure relations will at the least flip some genetic switches. The question is whether meaning affects the evolution of the organism, of the ecosystem, of the mind. It is completely clear that it does. Hence, it is important to bring the philosophical perspective to deepen digital understanding for accelerating digital transformation seamlessly.


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