Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Digital Board’s Digital Inquiries V

Improving organizational responsiveness and changeability is a strategic imperative.

Digital boards play a crucial directorial role in strategy oversight, business advising, and monitoring, exemplifying leadership, advocating changes and innovation. To lead effectively, the board needs to be able to leverage diverse viewpoints via listening, brainstorming, and questioning, make effective decisions via critical thinking, independent thinking, strategic thinking, and systems thinking, and become the “mastermind” behind the digital transformation. Here are a set digital board’s digital inquiries.

Based on the nature of the changes and the urgency, to what extent can the business make the necessary changes with internal resources versus external resource? The digital transformation is now spreading rapidly to enable organizations of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves. First of all, digital BoDs and executives need to clarify the difference between "Doing digital" via leveraging the emergent digital technologies or tools and "Going/being digital" which indicates a more radical business digitalization internally and culturally. Then, you can leverage external resources to manage a few digital driven business initiatives or implement some new technologies. However, when going digital or ultimately being digital, it is a sweeping approach which needs to dig into the internal business functions and underlying organizational processes, as well as rejuvenate the inherent business culture, to get digital ready. It means it’s OK to leverage external resources or service/solutions to shorten the delivery cycle or avoid reinventing the wheel; but more importantly, the business has to figure out how to integrate its own resources, talent and process to build changeability, improve business responsiveness and maturity. It means the deeper you can perceive the holistic digital impact, the further you can reach the digital vision and pinnacle.

How to assess the capabilities the business need? The emergence of potential opportunities for exploiting digitization is likely to follow a nonlinear pattern as the pervasiveness of an organization's digitization journey increases. It is healthy for the BoD and Senior Management to honestly assess their company's maturity level and capabilities for change. If the digital capability is dispersed, does it have the depth and resources to be effective? Do they work across functions and business units to share best practices and ideas? Can the business build the needed capabilities dynamically with faster delivery? Etc. Make an objective assessment on how further and how deep your digital transformation can reach. This will help them with the foresight to oversee the business strategy and practice governance disciplines for important business issues, such as business performance, investing, etc. It also helps the business management build a roadmap or blueprint to change or improve these capabilities for enabling more quickly responses to consumers and technology opportunities and threats.

Does the business possess the ability, desire, and discipline to cope with change along the way, no matter what happens? Change is inevitable. The accelerating speed of change, the volatile and uncertain business environment make the change as an ongoing capability organizations must master. Therefore, the board’s oversight of the business changeability helps further clarify the desire, discipline, and ability to change. Change cannot be just another thing that needs to be accomplished. It has to be woven into communication, process, and action of the organization. The roadblocks to change include, but not limited to lack of direction, internal politics, culture inertia, misalignment of systems & process,  too much hierarchy or centralization. This leads to lack of motivation/urgency or poor performance. It takes a lot of energy to break old habits and outdated thought processes. 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. If you make change part of your routine, then change becomes easier to deal with.

Improving organizational responsiveness and changeability is a strategic imperative. Rebuilding capacity and shaping strategic digital capability should be a continuous process. BoDs need to act like “Change Agent,” to advocate changes, as well as have an oversight of the business’s change journey, to ensure the business can speed up and achieve high-performance result via effortless changeability and seamless strategy execution.


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