Saturday, September 22, 2018

Why Does Innovation & Digitalization Stall

With overwhelming growth of information and continuous business disruptions, today’s digital organization simply just can’t stand still. 

Change is inevitable with the faster pace, organizations today simply cannot stand still. Digitalization represents the next stage of business maturity which will improve how the enterprise works and interacts with its ecosystem, with the people at the center of its focus. Digitalization is “pushed” by both visible forces and invisible forces, hard forces and soft forces from multiple directions. However, sometimes the managers feel that digitalization gets stalled, goes nowhere, what’re the root causes? And how to rejuvenate the business culture, catalyze changes and accelerate digital transformation?

Blurred vision: In the digital era with “VUCA” characteristics -velocity, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, organizations will get stuck if they don’t have a clear vision and lost the direction at the daily mundane “busyness.” Top leaders are supposed to be the guiding force in the organization and even with a broader scope. Visionary leaders are in demand to help organizations navigate through uncharted water and blurred digital borders and guide businesses toward the right directions. Vision is a foresight with a proactive understanding of cause and effect, not reactive sight. Unfortunately, many business managers today lose focus of the vision and get stuck in “keeping the lights on,” taking care of immediate business problems. Without continuous envisioning of a better future, organizations will become short-sighted, static, and become irrelevant sooner or later. Blurred vision causes the business stalling. Periodically, business leaders should take a pause for reflection, and re-envisioning.  As vision is not static, it needs to be adjusted with emerging business property and digital dynamic. With a clarified vision and a good strategy, organizations can take the path of digitalization smoothly.

Missing synergy: Digitalization is neither just about adopting some technologies nor fixing a few business issues. It is a systematic approach to expand in every direction for accelerating business performance and unlocking digital potential. Silo thinking, bureaucracy, inflexibility, inefficiency, rigidity, dysfunctional systems/processes, etc, are the causes of missing synergy and business stagnation. In many cases, business managers don’t understand their ever-evolving dynamic business environment because they never look outside the problems boundaries. When productivity is low and synergy is missing; when people are not working via the system to solve the real problems but play the system to stifle innovation or build “comfort zones” and create frictions to changes, you know that there is the serious problem, and there are many possible causes of it. The in-depth analysis is needed for understanding the root cause whether it is due to the dysfunctional “hard” system, inefficient practices/process, or the “soft” element such as miscommunication or culture complacency. The key issue is whether the business management recognizes a sense of urgency for fixing the root causes and will sponsor and support changes. Digital organizations are the living things, they need to be in flow to operate smoothly by breaking through the speed bottlenecks and keeping the business synchronized to ensure that every part of the organization operates in harmony to take a digital leap. It’s critical to use common business language for enhancing understanding, leverage digital platforms and tools to enforce cross-functional communication & collaboration, taking incentives to inspire creativity, knowledge sharing, and setting the right priority to create synergy for either problem-solving and strategy implementation.

Outdated practices: When organizations wait for following the magic formula of digitalization or taking the outdated industry practices, the business stalls. Because every organization has different strength and unique competency, they are also at the different stage of the business growth life cycle. Thus, they have to develop their own set of the best and next practices to explore the new possibilities and harness innovation. When organizations only seek examples to follow, rather than develop their own tailored solutions to emerging problems, they might stall. The path of exploring the next best practices is to contemplate the business goals, break down conventional thinking box, have iterative communication, and take multiple choices to understand and solve problems effectively. Further, taking a best practice from one environment into another could sometimes turn out to be the worst practice or so-called best is not out of its benchmarking context. When every business or function does exactly the same thing, and then innovation soon becomes the commodity. The practices that are "best" today are almost always not "best" in the future since practices, as well as technologies and markets, are constantly morphing under pressure and fast-paced change is now the part of the business reality. The path to digitalization is to think more closely about the long-term business goals, set digital principles and build your own unique set of practices for changes, innovation, and digitalization.

The digitalization shouldn’t stall. With overwhelming growth of information and continuous business disruptions, today’s digital organization simply just can’t stand still. The shift to digital cuts across sectors, geographies, and leadership roles, it represents the next stage of business maturity which will improve how the enterprise works and interacts with its ecosystem. Transformation is a non-stop journey rather than a destination, it’s an upward spiral for running a highly effective, highly innovative and highly intelligent business.


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