Monday, May 1, 2017

Strengthen The Weakest Links in Digital Transformation

It is important to strengthen the weakest link, to ensure all important business elements integrated and knitted into ongoing organizational capabilities and unique business competency.

Digital transformation is reshaping our thinking and recasting the way we view ourselves, the digital ecosystem of which we are the part of the environments in which we live, and the way we think and solve problems. Either business or the world is transforming from siloed functions, the sum of pieces into a connected whole. Hyper-connectivity is the most critical digital characteristics. Hence, it is important to understand that digital business development is a multifaceted and holistic management discipline. It is the paradigm shift which takes a multidisciplinary approach. In practice, how to identify and strengthen the weakest links in order to drive the digital transformation seamlessly.

Murky vision: Due to the digital “VUCA” normality, organizations are stepping into the uncharted water and get cross the blurred territories toward the business transformation. Without a clear vision, it could be easy to get lost, distracted, and lag behind. The digital business is very complex, the leaders need to observe, perceive, and pay attention to the myriad of internal, external, national or global forces that define and influence the way we do business these days. It is true that the digital leaders must have a clear vision, which is not clouded or distorted either by rosy colored glasses or overly narrow lens. It is the vision established based on realistic expectation, but also high enough that inspire people to excel and challenge the organization to thrive. The vision thing is not just about the simply “seeing,” it is the perception about the future; some visions are tunnel-like, other visions are short-sighted, but the best digital vision should be circular and attainable. Digital transformation is more like the journey, not just a destination. Hence, the digital vision shouldn't be a fixed target, it should be stable enough to make it worthwhile to make a concerted effort to attain it and dynamic enough to be able to react to any change in business direction or context.

Comfort zone: Digital is the age of people, people are often the cause of change, often the weakest link of digital transformation as well. When people get stuck in their comfort zone, they slow down the digital flow and stifle the innovation. Some say people don’t fear change, they fear being changed. People only like the comfort zone if they have been given no reason to consider going someplace better or don't even know there is a "new and improved" zone they could go to or the progress they could make. The risk is the potential of losing something weighed against the potential of gaining something. If change is going to make them feel more comfortable, they accept it. If not, they resist. The perception/ response to consequences vary from person to person, and that's what makes change interesting and challenging. The more complex the change, the more complex the solution, the more important to practice effective change leadership disciplines for providing a combination approach to riding above the learning curve as well as solving immediate problems with a sense of urgency.

Lag time: Digital means the fast pace of change, velocity, complexity and uncertainty, the exponential growth of information and continuous technology disruption. That could be an opportunity enabling to foresee possibilities and probabilities that might crop in our way of progress. As we all know the only "certainty" or a "constant" is "CHANGE." Business is only an extended part of our life and all businesses have to accept change to survive. Timing is, therefore, critical, because when you miss the right timing, you miss the opportunity; and if you don’t move fast enough, you already lag behind. From the business management perspective, it means to have the right people getting the right information to make the right decisions TIMELY. Optimal decision-making mechanisms ensure decisions occur as fast as they possibly can, with the speed being in perfect balance with cost and risk for the given decision situation. So, the business can catch up the speed of business change, make real-time business or customer insight, adjust the strategic goals, and make strategy execution not as linear steps, but as the dynamic digital continuum.

Rigid process: Digital businesses are in fact complex, but it doesn’t mean you should make things more complicated; on the opposite, simplification is the key to run a high mature digital organization. Many times, people in organization follow processes mindlessly, at times just because it becomes a need. Overly rigid processes or bureaucratic structure setting enforce silos, disturb the digital flow, and hence, deaccelerate digital transformation. It is important to manage a clear set of objectives, planning, communication, and training goes into a proper system or process implementation. The elements of strategy can be used to guide and evaluate the development of business processes. In that way, you get independent checks and balances for the overall business solution you are trying to develop. To optimize the underlying business processes and functions, orchestrating transformations, implementing process automation, and monitoring which will eventually enhance and improve the organization’s efficiency; which would increase its productivity and profit in the market. It also helps in the reduction of time to market, improved customer satisfaction, achieved cost efficiency and maximize revenue.

Cognition and skills gap: There are still multiple gaps existing, between business and IT, between strategy and execution, and between management and governance. People are always the most invaluable asset to any organization, but also the weakest link. The talent gap (both cognition and skills gap) is the reality, not a fiction. Without filling those gaps, the success rate of digital transformation will decrease significantly. For example, it is no surprise to create the thinking gaps by imperfect people using imperfect processes via the narrow lenses. We all have a cognitive bias, whether individually or collectively. These cognition gaps can cause the mediocre strategy making or lead outdated talent management practices. It is so important to leverage the real critical thinking for making sound judgments in evaluating ideas, talent, planning implementation, and assessing performance results. To bridge the gap for solving complex problems, collective wisdom is often the secret source for creative problem-solving and co-creating alternative solutions. These are the capacities of humans who are not trapped in 'the same level of thinking' as others and keep sharpening cognitive ability, problem-solving skills and capabilities.

Digital organizations have to stretch out in every business dimension for driving the full-fledged digital transformation. It is important to strengthen the weakest link, and it needs to be managed via a systematic approach to ensure all important business elements integrated and knitted into an ongoing organizational capability and unique business competency.


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