Thursday, March 8, 2018

What’re the Compelling Stories Behind Digitalization

The great leaders are great storytellers who can share their vision vividly; engage their people empathetically, and leverage data and information convincingly.

Communication is often the key to radical changes such as digitalization. The effective communication is not just for gaining popularity, but to share the vision and convey insight. Digital leaders today should be the great communicators who can tell compelling stories behind digitalization and communicate objectively with strong logic, understanding, creativity, and clarity.

The vision empowered story: Top business leaders must participate in shaping the vision of the business. Because they are supposed to be the guiding force in the enterprise, envisioning and leading the business towards its future. Digital leaders today are both artists and technologists; creative communicators and insightful architect, who can brilliantly imagine the mission and business models of tomorrow while orchestrating the digital competency to succeed in the missions and business models of today. They can tell a compelling vision-empowered digitalization story to inspire the team; forecast the trend, and engage the people. They not just articulate what happens today, but convey the vision of “to be,” because the future is what really matters. Foresight is actually an ongoing conversation, and the foresightful minds feel the emerging digital horizon in which you are able to make the reliable prediction is coming closer; the speed of digital paradigm shift is increasing, and the pace of small adaptation is quickening aggregating to bigger shifts in scales quicker than previously. The vision empowered digital story has its own plots and proposals, colors, and themes; in fact, some trends are more significant than others in their impact. Some corrections require more drastic paradigm shifts with corresponding economic impacts and predictable ecosystem challenges. Vision is about a destination and innovation is about discovering a unique path and leveraging alternative methods or great tools to get you there. So, the vision if understood in this perspective becomes a comprehensive dream and an achievable reality. Instead of passively consuming forecasts, get people actively engaged in shaping their destiny.

The people-centric story: Digital is the age of people and options, it provides the opportunity to think the new way to do things, run in a very entrepreneur fashion to solve business problems effectively. Thus, it is important to tell the people-centric story; and also invite people to tell their own unique story about change as well. Digitalization as the radical change starts from the mind shift. Good communication and feedback are essential throughout the mind change process. It's important that you make people feel like they are a big part of the changes that need to be made. Sometimes people are not part of change because they feel like they don't need change, and even the ones who recognize the importance or urgency of change, do not understand their own role, impact and most importantly, emotions involved in a change process. You have to start with creating an awareness of the need for change via telling compelling stories or lesson learned. Innovators and change agents all play the crucial role to reinforce and enthuse others. Storytelling has different tones and styles, it could be one to one, one to many; or many to many. Have problem-solving forums for any issues that may be contentious, so that staff can have genuine input if possible. But the key step is to review the changes honestly so that in the future the trust will be greater.

The information-based or data-support story: Digital means the abundance of information. The information-based or data-support story is more persuasive, comprehensive, and powerful to enforce communication about how well you implement the business strategy; how smoothly you manage changes; how boldly you manage innovation, how productive your staff is, and how mature is the business manageability. The information or metrics supporting the story need to be reliable, and therefore, selecting the right performance indicators is one of the most important steps, and it should follow the “SMART” principle (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Keep in mind, metrics are not just numbers, but need to be well selected to tell the full story; because historically, performance system for most businesses have been financing driven, but financial indicators only cover part of the story. The data support story is not only inspiring but also motivating people to fill the performance gaps, take a structural approach to make an improvement. People can see what the outcome will look like throughout the transition. Ultimately, the success of the change program is measured by results that achieve multidimensional values in the organization.

Telling the compelling stories about digitalization is about helping the audience wrap their brain around what the future will look like, what will change; what the benefit is; what the timeline is; what the audience really care about., etc. Data is important, but the creative expression or metaphorical description is important as well to improve leadership effectiveness in today’s “VUCA” environment. The great leaders are great storytellers who can share their vision vividly; engage their people empathetically, and leverage data and information convincingly.


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