Sunday, March 11, 2018

Three Digital Practices to Read Digital Sentiment Insightfully

Today’s digital leaders must be foresightful and insightful to read digital sentiment with clarity. 

Leadership is all about future and change; direction and progress. From an agricultural society to the industrial age, and now we slowly but steadily move into the fast-paced and information abundant digital era. A digital paradigm is an emerging digital ecosystem of principles, policies, and practices that set limits or boundaries. Digital leaders today have to read digital sentiment insightfully, set the guidance for problem-solving or creating something new under the digital rules, keep information flow and achieve a state of dynamic balance.

Read between the lines: Due to an unprecedented level of uncertainty, velocity, and complexity, misunderstanding is the big cause of many human problems. The business system is complex and the organization is contextual, without the contextual understanding of people, process, and technology, the blind spots and gaps are inevitable. From the management perspective, contextual understanding is about getting to understand the whole meaning of functional dialects and business dynamic and perceive the business insight in a cohesive way. Behind every problem is a relationship dynamic out of alignment, thus, understanding the interconnectivity of systems and relationship dynamics are also important as well for both identifying the real issues and solve them smoothly. Content, context, and insight follow this order to deepen your understanding. Learning something to gain knowledge often starts with the content study; to deepen understanding, you should capture contextual knowledge, and abstract them into the invaluable insight which is an in-depth understanding of a specific cause and effect in a specific context or the core issues of a situation which leads to understanding and resolution. Today’s business problems become over-complex and interdependent, the assumption that there is a single cause to a “problem” in a complex adaptive system is limited. Fundamentally, running a business is an iterative business problem-solving continuum. Hence, business managers need to have a contextual understanding of the interconnectivity of the business success factors underlying the surface via multidimensional thinking, interdisciplinary knowledge, efficient technological tools, and structural management practice to manage a dynamic digital business.

Listen to what’s not being said: One of the very goals for digitalization is to build a people-centric business. In reality, the majority of employees are not engaged in their work due to the mediocre culture or lack of opportunity to grow and unleash their talent potentials. To make things worse, there are so many things employees will not tell their managers what's in their mind, and unfortunately, there are not so many things that are positives. Figuring out what employees are not saying might be the start point to greater retention and a more engaged workforce. It is an indication of a lack of true emphatic leadership, lack of a culture of innovation and learning, lack of integral and effective people management and performance management, or an overall lack of digital readiness. Besides proactively collecting feedback from employees and customers, the next practice for digital leaders is about “listening to what employees aren’t saying,” Would they say: “Understanding: You are making my job unnecessarily hard because you don't understand what I do all day.” WIFM -What’s in It For Me: I want to be included in more decisions that affect me.” “Respect: I want to be treated fairly and with respect.” “Do not micromanage: Show me the big picture, and specifically "what" is my role/contribution. Then leave the "how" to me. If I need guidance.” Etc. The is particularly important for the “command & control” style of management, in order to figure out the real problems behind the scenes (not just symptoms) and engage people to improve productivity and effectiveness. The good news is leaders seek feedback directly and indirectly.

See invisible: Digitalization is radical changes. Change is inevitable, but the success rate of change is very low. So many companies and "managers" focus on the tangibles, but they lack an in-depth understanding of invisible or intangible things; just getting them to consider the list of intangibles would be a breakthrough. Metaphorically, change is like the iceberg, usually, the large part underneath the water is invisible, but a crucial decisive factor for the success or failure of Change Management. That means you have to dive deeper to see invisible in order to read digital sentiment clearly. This probably means that organizations are going to have to get not only the “hard numbers” right but more importantly, how to manage the intangible elements in business from the beginning. If you only take the visible aspects of digital management -the tip of the iceberg alone as an element of the strategy execution, you may miss the point and well-head to the troubles. Digital transformation worths its weight because you have to leverage all visible and invisible elements, and you have to transform the company's underlying functions and processes, rejuvenate the organizational culture, and optimize organization as a whole with adjusted digital speed. You have to build a “Change culture,” to get people ready for change, encourage innovation and improve overall business responsiveness, performance, speed.

Today’s digital leaders must be foresightful and insightful to read digital sentiment with clarity. The organizational management short-sightedness and running the business in a transactional mode only can cause digital ineffectiveness in the long run. To effectively respond to the digital dynamics, companies must begin thinking about ways with strategic planning to broaden their ecosystems while becoming more sensitive and responsive to changes in order to move up to the next level of organizational maturity.


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