Saturday, January 20, 2018

Three Barriers To Innovation and Digital Maturity

Digital is worth its weight when all parts of the choir sing their respective parts in harmony to achieve a higher purpose and make a unique impact.

Digital paradigm means holism, hyper-connectivity, integration, interdependence, and innovation. Digital transformation is the journey for solving problems caused by "Conflict," "Out of Balance," “Lack of Logic,” or “Too much complexity.” Therefore, it is critical to break through the industrial constraints and limitations, overcome roadblocks to change and digitalization, and improve the overall business responsiveness and maturity. Here are three barriers businesses must overcome in order to accelerate the digital paradigm shift.

Nearsightedness: Digital is full of uncertainty, velocity, complexity, and ambiguity, but those shouldn’t become the excuse for the business neglecting long-range planning. In fact, the organizational management short-sightedness and running the business in a transactional mode cause digital ineffectiveness for the long run. The digitalization is a long-term journey; to move up the organizational maturity level, businesses need to shift from transactional mode to transformational mode. In practice, too often, transformational change is acted on the basis of improving one part of an organization at the expense of other parts of the organization. The main reason is that up to this point in time, most leaders have been silo managers and don't really have the business skills or personality traits to lead change and transformation. From top-down, an organizational structural perspective, people at the different level of the company should be on the same page of change and innovation. Often, the middle management with “transactional mentality only” is the bottleneck of the business effectiveness and the very reason of change inertia. Digitalization takes a holistic approach and the broader perspective, if the management neglect long-range planning and keep silo thinking, change effort is doomed to fail.

Bureaucracy: One of the biggest obstacles to stifle digital flow and innovation is bureaucracy which is criticized for its inflexibility, inefficiency, silo, stagnation, unresponsiveness, or lack of creativity, etc. Generally speaking, bureaucracy is a system based on a hierarchy of authority and division of workforce functioning in a routine manner. Although organizational bureaucracy inherited from the traditional management discipline brings a certain level of business efficiency. In today's volatile economy, nothing impedes progress more than protective silos which are simply a form of bureaucratic management hierarchy designed to preserve the status quo. With hyperconnectivity and increasing speed of changes, it becomes the barrier to change and innovation. It generates negative energy which stops organizations from moving forward. Bureaucracy is often caused by “command and control” leadership style, overly rigid structure and business processes. Digital management requires a different kind of 'control,' for example, the control on desired outcomes, keep the end in mind, not overly control the process of “HOW.” They do not focus on hierarchy but on ideas, information, creativity, flexibility, openness, and curiosity. An organization can approach the flow zone when the positions in its hierarchy have clear, accountable tasks, ideas are shared and managed effectively, and processes are streamlined to improve organizational performance seamlessly.

Disengagement: Statistically, more than two-thirds of employees do not engage in the work they do. What’re the root causes that employees are not engaged fully and not spend so much time chasing and trying to treat the symptoms? This requires that you start with a complete and accurate diagnosis of the organization's current state, identify any barriers to excellence that may exist, and then develop strategies for lowering or removing those barriers to improving productivity and employee satisfaction. The digital organizations should be a complex, but flexible social system starting to appreciate business attributes such as readiness, ownership, creativity, integration, open communication, customized structuring, and multifaceted partnerships. It is important to build a culture of learning, encourage people to get out of the comfort zone and overcome complacency. Organizations and individuals that are complacent do not look for new opportunities or hazards. Leaders often miss the big picture and become complacent. Thus, complacency can lead to mediocrity which further causes digital stagnation. Digital leaders and professionals must keep learning and explore the better way of running the business, make learning-doing as an iterative continuum to improve the overall business maturity.

There is no “one size fits all” approach to managing a high-mature digital organization. There are numerous barriers and pitfalls on the way. Every business evolves digital transformation at different speed. Digital is worth its weight when all parts of the choir sing their respective parts in harmony to achieve a higher purpose and make a unique impact, to accelerate change and innovation, and improve business performance and maturity.


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