Friday, October 27, 2017

How to Manage Digital Balance Cycles Effectively

Digital businesses and their people learn through their interactions with the environment, to keep knowledge flow as well as business flow, and strike a delicate digital balance.

Digital transformation is inevitable, it means the increasing pace of change and fierce competition. Organizations must keep the lights on and also make strategic movements all the time. Like running up to the string, keeping digital balance is critical in reaching digital aptitude. But how to manage the following digital balance cycles effectively?

The balance of chaos and order: Compared to changes, the transformation is more radical, with all sorts of ups & downs, bumps and curves. It brings both opportunities for business growth and chaos as pitfalls. The emergence of potential opportunities for exploiting digitization is likely to follow a nonlinear pattern or exponential speed. Therefore, it is important to strike the right balance between chaos and order. On one side, digital leaders today must shape digital mindsets and have the right dose of risk appetite to prepare such a paradigm shift and accept that influence is attainable, but control is not. The hyper-connecting nature of digital offers particularly fertile ground for developing cross-industry ecosystems and innovation opportunities, it might create a certain level of chaos and radical change because the digital ways of doing business and customer expectation both tend to be more convenient and flexible than siloed industrial age. Organizations today need to constantly improve the business and seeing change as an opportunity while keeping a holistic overview of the business are the core messages of the text. The job for management is to bring the order from chaos, via optimizing the underlying functions, processes and tuning soft business elements and expanding changes to all business directions. Digital dynamic enables companies to leverage varying business elements to chase innovation and accelerate business performance via cross-functional collaboration. Digital organizations also have to balance growth and stability, innovation and standardization accordingly.

The balance of learning and doing: The majority of people nowadays work in an organization that is somewhere between old and new; at both industrial speed and digital speed. At static industrial age with knowledge scarcity, learning and doing are perhaps linear steps. For many people, after their formal education years, they are perhaps done with learning, with a graduate attitude (know it all mentality). In the digital age, the knowledge life cycle is significantly shortened, learning and doing are an iterative continuum. The digital workforce today has to learn and relearn all the time and then apply those lessons to succeed in new situations. The pervasive digitalization requires the balance of “old experience” and “new ways to do things.” Digital organizations and their people must learn through their interactions with the business environment,  they apply their learning, act, observe the consequences of their action, make inferences about those consequences, and draw implications for future action. Digital leaders need to practice expert power besides position power in order to make the profound influence and improve leadership effectiveness. Because “command & control” type of leadership style is becoming out-of-date. People want to grow, develop and learn, in effect, they want to change but they don’t want to be changed. Now the business and the whole world are so hyperconnected and interdependent, people all over the world can share knowledge and digital workforce are pursuing autonomy and mastery. You need to not only assimilate the existing knowledge, more importantly, you have to create new knowledge, more frequently to replace the out of dated knowledge, in order to do things in the better way for solving either existing or emergent problems.

The balance of collaboration and competition: Digital does mean the unprecedented level of mass collaboration, also means fierce competition at the global level. Competition is part of the natural dynamics of life. It is part of the genetic bias of every living thing in nature as a survival-seeking mindset. Still, in an advanced digital organization or society, the goal of positive competition with fair rules should stimulate innovation and accelerate progress. Otherwise, the negative competition via negative intention or approach can make the bad effect and the competitive arena can produce a myriad of negative externalities. Many times, “Coopetition” is a hybrid word to describe the digital new normal, businesses collaborate to achieve common goals in one area but compete in the other area. The point is that competition shouldn’t mean we want to be the same, fight for the same things. it means to be authentic and self-aware, either at the individual or organizational level, to become the best you can be, to define your own success formula, or put simply, compete for uniqueness and build your own competitive advantage. Variety, complexity, diversification, and collaboration are the characteristics of the digital innovation ecosystem. From innovation management perspective, businesses need competitions for spurring great ideas. However, organizations can no longer rely on a single individual or team to drive innovation. This is largely due to the fact that innovating in today’s digital world has become increasingly complex in nature. Innovation needs to involve the different type of mindset, structures, and organizations are combining all that is available to them in imaginative and advantageous ways. Ultimately, competition or cooperation can be used for a greater purpose to life us digital maturity.

To stay competitive, forward-looking organizations have to manage these digital balance cycles well. Digital businesses and their people learn through their interactions with the environment, to keep knowledge flow as well as business flow. From the economic and organizational point of view, people are able to adapt themselves and their organization through a collaborative approach to understanding, learning, accelerating performance, and innovating.


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