Saturday, September 16, 2017

Build a Comprehensive Digital Framework with Principles, Processes, and Practices to Accelerate Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is a long journey, and the path for digital transformation can be iterative, evolutionary, revolutionary, or disruptive.

Digitalization is not just about adopting the latest technologies or cool gadget only, it has to expand into every dimension of the organization with a structural approach. The digital framework provides guidelines, checklist, standard, processes, do & don't practices, as well as tools and building blocks to define or develop business competencies and manage a holistic digital transformation. The digital frameworks add value as they are implementations of the patterns to avoid having to reinvent the wheel, it helps the organization embed digital culture into the very fabric of the business, explore digital in a structural way and laser focus on the most important things to get business digital ready.

Setting digital guidelines/principles: Digital transformation is inevitable. Change is the new norm and happens the whole time thereby delivering faster and increasing market share. The powerful digital technology and enterprise social platform does flatten the organizational hierarchy and blur the functional, organizational, and geographical borders in the business ecosystem. It could mean less restrictive rules or bureaucracy, break down silo thinking and keep information and knowledge flow seamlessly. Digital encourages autonomy and innovation. That means the guiding principle, in fact, become more crucial to be defined as core decision criteria and behavior guideline to practice a multifaceted management discipline. Building a digital transformation platform with a set of well-defined guiding principles helps digital leaders and professionals provide greater clarification of vision/mission/strategy at a more detailed level, make change part of the business management routine. Because digital transformation cannot be just another thing that needs to be accomplished, it has to be woven into communication, process, and action of the digital organization. The matter of fact is that, setting guiding principles is not to manipulate (HOW), but to clarify (WHY); because a set of guiding principles helps management frame the right questions to ask for discovering the big WHY before jumping into HOW - to search for answers only. The principle of principle is that there needs to be a pragmatic way of applying whatever principles to the problem in a consistent manner, otherwise, it is a waste of effort to even state them.

Key process management: The intention of digital transformation is to break down silos, improve organizational responsiveness, and accelerate business performance. Digital organizations arise when the scale of the interrelations, interactions, or inter-relational interactions surpasses the silo-based organizational capacity to be able to do whatever it does with smaller scales. A well-defined digital framework enables developing cross-functional and interrelational management processes to help reduce business tensions, frictions, and conflicts that arise; enable managing interactional management processes to help communicate concepts and ideas with clarity and encourage two-way feedback flow seamlessly; also enable developing inter-relational interactions management processes for harnessing relationship building and cross-functional collaboration. For many businesses, especially well-established large organizations, it is necessary to keep stable processes to run the business as always. But it is also important to do more with innovation. Therefore, it is important to apply a hybrid approach and take tailored practices to fit different circumstances. The challenge for organizations is to leverage the digital framework, manage its process portfolio of relevant cross-border strategic business competency and organizational interdependence with the appropriate mix of enabling organizational elements. Through a comprehensive framework, the key business processes can be managed and optimized to achieve flexibility, adaptability, and maturity, to strike the right balance of “keeping the order,” and sparking innovation.

Dos and Don’ts digital practices: There are many “DOs” in digital transformation. Do more with innovation. Do more thinking before doing. DO walkthrough “look, listen, question, understand, plan, test and collaboration” stages for digital tuning. But there are also a lot of “DO NOT” warnings or tips, which are particularly important to avoid pitfalls & unnecessary failures or get rid of outdated best practices. For example, “Do Not” confuse digital transformation with technology only, though technology is one of the major drivers behind the digital transformation, the digital paradigm shift is not just about technology, it's about people, culture, partnership, processes, etc. Do Not ignore the silo mentality. In today's volatile economy with an exponential growth of information and abundance of knowledge, nothing impedes innovation and progress more than protective silos which are simply a form of the bureaucratic structure designed to preserve the status quo. To break down the silo mentality, top leaders who are someone above the silo are supposed to connect all the individual puzzle pieces together, to clear blind spots, integrate a multitude of viewpoints, to manage a holistic digital transformation. There is no “one size fits all” formula to manage digital transformation, therefore, every organization should develop and manage their own set of “Dos and Don’t” list via lessons learned for improving management effectiveness and get digital ready.

Digital transformation is a long journey, and the path for digital transformation can be iterative, evolutionary, revolutionary, or disruptive. Organizations have to develop a comprehensive framework, take a step-wise approach, continue assessing, fine-tune and adapt. Without those steps, it could either become a costly disaster or just the lip service without substantial action. The well-developed digital transformation framework laser focuses on the most important things and maintaining the digital balance. The challenge for organizations is to manage its portfolio of relevant cross-border strategic synergies and organizational interdependence to truly get digital ready.


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