Sunday, December 30, 2018

Five "Thinking Forces" to Drive Digital

The digital workforce is a new breed - it's the super-connected generation with a multitude of varieties - multi-generations, multidimensional intelligence, multi-cultures, and multi-devices. 

With fast-paced changes, shortened knowledge cycle and fierce competitions, no one can rest on a static mindset, past accomplishments, or the wishful thought that everything is perfect the way it is. The digital workforce is a new breed - it's the super-connected generation with a multitude of varieties - multi-generations, multidimensional intelligence, multi-cultures, and multi-devices. The digital organization is the self-organized but interlaced and hyper-connected ecosystem. The high mature digital organization today needs to be sophisticated enough to act intelligently and nimble enough to adapt to changes promptly. The traditional management discipline based on silo thinking, linear logic, and reductionistic approach is outdated somehow. Here are five thinking forces to lead the digital transformation.

Strategic thinking: A strategic thinker creates or grasps new opportunities and strikes the delicate balance in the digital dynamics. To put simply, strategic thinking is about keeping the end in end. Strategic thinking is specified as being conceptual, systems-oriented, directional, linking the future with the past and opportunistic. The strategic leaders or professionals gain an understanding of the past and the perception of the future as knowledge permits. They can think multi-dimensionally and do not get lost in mundane detail. They can leverage different lenses to view the complete business system as an ecosystem with all its dependencies and interconnections. Strategic leaders will create a blue ocean for their organization which will provide a competitive advantage in the long run. The difference between the tactical manager and strategic leader is that the first one thinks about the business from the transactional perspective while the second one is thinking business from a transformational perspective.

Critical thinking: We live in a world with an increasing pace of changes. Change is chaotic and inevitable. Change Management needs to take a logical scenario which starts with leveraging Critical Thinking to figure out the “Big Why” about changes. Critical Thinking is contextual, both reality oriented and evidence-oriented. It involves induction and deduction continuum. Change leaders and managers should leverage critical thinking in understanding both psychology and methodology behind changes. Real change and improvement are deprogramming old mindsets, letting go of the outdated traditions or the voices from the past. Too often people may take the easy path, think and work at a superficial level rather than spend the time on understanding what is going on underneath. The extent of effort in Critical Thinking also has a lot to do with diagnosing the root causes of real problems, a sense of urgency, the impact of decisions, the scope of impact, as well as who is being impacted. Critical Thinking is also commonly understood to involve the willingness to integrate new or revised perspectives into better ways of thinking and acting, and willingness to foster criticality in others, leveraging systematic methodologies, employing and applying the criteria deemed appropriate by the thinkers involved, to arrive at the tangible and reproducible business results.

Systems thinking: Systems thinking is a discipline for seeing wholes as well as the interconnectivity between parts and the whole. It is a framework for seeing interrelationships rather than isolated things, for seeing patterns of change rather than static “snapshots.” Systems Thinking opens the mind from a global or macro perspective. It is a set of general principles—distilled over the course of the twentieth century, spanning fields as diverse as the physical and social sciences, engineering, and management. Systems Thinking is not just a science, but an art as well. It’s an interdisciplinary thought process with deep creativity in it. Leveraging Systems Thinking in harnessing innovation and driving digital transformation is all about taking a scientific approach to problem identifying and solving. It allows you to a number of things such as embracing uncertainty, identifying interconnections and interdependencies, understanding flows or the lack of them, and spotting business opportunities. The true System Thinking is about seeing the connections around us. When we perceive the dynamism in the world, we also inevitably see connectivity and the possibility of change for evolution.

Creative thinking: Creativity is an innate thought process to create novel ideas. Creativity converges with the concept of innovation that is the management discipline to transform innate ideas and achieve its business value. To be creative, first, you need to embrace the unknown (think outside the box). Second, you need to challenge the known (probe the paradoxes). Many people always live with conventional wisdom. But being creative requires you to break down the outdated rules or concepts, or the little box which restricts your thinking. Creativeness derives from one's ability to let go. Let go of assumptions and stigmas we place on objects, ideas, function, and has a vision of purpose besides what is already obvious. Organizations starve for creativity. Creativity is about connecting dots, which are usually seemly unrelated because they are scattered in transdisciplinary, but interconnected domains. Creativity is a talent and learning activities which help to shape up creative ideas and creative process fusion. You have to digest knowledge, and not just understand it on the superficial level, but to “see” things or make connections others cannot, to stimulate creativity.

Holistic thinking: The word "holistic" itself refers to something that transcends an adding or combination of thinking ways. Holistic thinking is more than a combination of those three ways of thinking: Analytical, systems, and critical thinking. Holistic thinking requires a very open mind and ability to transcend conventional wisdom, thinking about the whole system in question: What is the question? Is that the right question? What is the behavior (observable input-process-output result) of the whole? What is the problem? Why? What seems to be the constraints? What are the enablers? Where is the weakest link/strongest constraint? What are the components? How do they affect (enable/constrain) each other? How strong is each individual effect? Which functions are integral to the value-chain pipeline? which is directly supporting? which are peripheral? Which factors or aspects of the problem seem most critical? How are all of the components/actors/measures in the system related? Holistic thinking enables understanding of “patterns of change” which is important for dynamic problem-solving. Being holistic also suggests a genuine sense of exploration and innovation or simply creative problem-solving.

We are living in a complex world where inventions, developments, and conflicts are continuously changing and that makes it impossible to have complete knowledge and understanding of many issues facing the business today. Thus, silo thinking or linear logic is simply not sufficient to solve today’s complex business problems. The multiple thinking forces help digital leaders broaden their perspectives of the dynamic digital ecosystem, deepen their understanding of interconnected nature of the business, with the ultimate goal to steer the business in the right direction and accelerate digital paradigm shift.


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