Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Interdisciplinary Approach to Digital Transformation

The organizational digitalization is surely a transformation journey, as it has to permeate into business vision, strategy, culture, and communication, processes. etc.

Compared to changes, the transformation is more radical, digital transformation is not just about experimenting with the latest digital technologies or playing the fancy digital gadgets. You have to optimize the underlying functions, processes as well as fine-tune soft business elements and expand changes to all directions; you have to take an interdisciplinary approach and collective leadership to manage a digital transformation successfully.

Managing digital transformation takes a multidisciplinary approach: The digital transformation is now spreading rapidly to enable organizations of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves. But dealing with the significant challenge of digital transformation requires accelerated digital mindsets, leveraging multidisciplinary knowledge and insight, taking an end-to-end response and a structural approach. It involves applied Science (Engineering), Art (Design), principle (Philosophy), Cognition (Psychology), Social norms (Culture) and group behavior (Sociology). Overall speaking, trans or interdisciplinary science can be applied to digital management with integrating multidisciplinary methodology, it enables digital leaders and professional to frame bigger thinking boxes, to work not just within the box, but across the multiple boxes, and approach problems via multifaceted way, technically, scientifically, philosophically, psychologically, and sociologically. The solutions will most probably cover standard aspects such as culture/behavior change, support resources for the design/build/ implementation of the change (what mix of internal/external resources /capabilities), planning and control etc. but also very specific technical/functional/system aspects.

Applying the digital ecosystem viewpoint: Digital ecosystem is just like the natural ecosystem, with the full spectrum of lights, and keep the dynamic balance of order and chaos. Classical science defined an ecosystem in terms of the multiple parts of a system while systems science defines it based on multiple interactions with the environment and the interactions among parts within the viewed system. All artistic, scientific, philosophical knowledge of mankind is inspired by nature. Just like the natural ecosystem has provided the impetus to her evolutionary agenda of human mind and consciousness. Digital businesses and their people learn through their interactions with the environment, they act, observe the consequences of their action, make inferences about those consequences, and draw implications for future action. The process is adaptively rational, it has to strike the balance of ‘keeping the order,’ and sparking the innovation. The dynamic digital ecosystem can be perceived through the lenses of sociology, psychology, the economics of education, the anthropology of cultures, economics, organizational and communication sciences, poetical science, STEAM, and so on. In similar processes, poets, artists, scientists, philosophers also tread on their path of the quest to understand the symbolic language of nature contributing to the evolutionary processes. The interdisciplinary business insight should lead us not only understanding, but also predicting; not just managing problems, but also pursuing solutions and purpose seeking, as a mode of thinking and action.

Digital transformation reflects the holism theme: Digital transformation is like to paint the picture which needs many colors; it is also like to orchestrate a symphony which takes many instruments, and it surely takes multidisciplinary knowledge and understanding for leapfrogging. Because for every need, provisions are there, for every problem, solutions are there, for every scientific development, resources are there, but to be discovered, applying human intelligence and through the process of discovering, human mind and consciousness will expand and evolve. Digital organizations and systems have the characteristics of nonlinearity, adaptability, unrepeatability, unpredictability, and denial of control. So, with such digital paradigm shift, knowledge is not less important, but more important, though knowledge alone is not sufficient, the insight is the most wanted vision to see the world in the holistic and intimate way, with artistic touches and scientific disciplines. To engage and function in such dynamic environments, it requires fundamentally different mindsets and paradigms such as accepting that influence is attainable, but control is not. It is important to understand the philosophy, psychology, and technology behind the digital transformation. The challenge is to move from the individual level to the system level. In other words, in order to enable systematic macro change, you need to apply methods and techniques deriving from social sciences, political sciences, statistics, economics, and so on, according to the principles of scientific and empiric inquiry. The need of the time is to design the institutions and societies to be a well-balanced digital ecosystem with the abundance of energy and sustainable advantages.  

Organizations’ digitalization is surely a transformation journey, as it has to permeate into business vision, strategy, culture, and communication, processes. etc. Understanding that digital business development is multifaceted. You can't expect an individual to fully develop such broad-based concepts, it takes the team effort, and more importantly, team coordination. It is the transformation that is reshaping our thinking and recasting the way we view ourselves, the systems of which we are the part of the environments in which we live, and the way we think and solve problems. It is the paradigm shift which takes a multidisciplinary approach.


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