Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The “Soft Touches” in Digital Transformation

Building the bridge between today and the future requires enthusiasm, belief, determination, hard capabilities, soft touches, and commit to a more responsive way of working in general.

Organizations across the industrial sectors are on the journey of digitalization. Being “digital ready” goes beyond just applying the latest digital technology, it is a holistic effort and multifaceted discipline. The digital transformation has to be expanded in every dimension and permeating into underlying organizational structures and functions. Besides hard forces such as technology update or process optimization, organizations also have to tailor their management styles by making some “soft touch,” well mix all important business elements into the organizational competency.

Intuition or gut feeling still has a role in making better choices or faster decisions:
On one side, organizations rely more & more on hard data in running a real-time digital organization. On the other side though, with unprecedented uncertainty and complexity, some courageous digital leaders choose to follow their gut feeling or their intuition, and taste success. It is not because they are emotional or spontaneous, but because they let the inner feeling flow, they are able to apply the awareness and intelligence to make better choices, not any choice. From a neurological perspective, the human brain can process huge amounts of information unconsciously without it ever rising into consciousness. Intuition is one element for our unconscious process which is created out of our distilled experiences. The more conscious we grow, the more aligned we become with our intuition. This is why intuitive decision making can be powerful and should not be underestimated. It is often used when there is a high level of uncertainty. It means that there is little precedent to go on, when the ‘risks‘ are less predictable and when “facts” are limited. Guidance comes from within, but, very rarely would anyone depend on intuition or listen to the inner calling. It requires a lot of courage. That makes seemly soft “gut feeling” like the diamond in rough, precious and invaluable to make better choices or faster decisions.

Change Management is considered as a “soft” management discipline: Because there is no hard formula to manage changes and change itself keep changing. In fact, the soft forces such as leadership and communication will become the key factors for the success of changes. Digital is the era of people. There is the psychology behind the change. People’s feelings need to be addressed. Often, people have no problem with change! They have problems with uncertainty, risk, and fear. People respond in different ways to different situations. It would be great for change practitioners to have a reasonably good understanding of neuroscience. They need to have good critical thinking skills, the high level of adaptability, excellent communication and engagement skills to leverage the crucial "soft touch" for managing the emotion cycle behind changes. Part of creating an organizational environment that facilitates change involves paying attention to employee wellbeing and building individual emotional resilience to generate more positive emotions and reducing unnecessary organizational pressures for taking the digital journey effortlessly.

The “aqua” like soft business elements such as culture plays a decisive role in leading change success: People have been the very real for changes, the driving force of the digital transformation, and of much of what mankind has accomplished. Culture defines people's attitude and the organization's process. and then, if there's no culture of execution, there would be no positive attitude and no good behavior. Successful strategy management and a successful culture are interdependent. The degree to which culture supports a strategy depends on upon the degree to which culture unifies its efforts to realize critical success factors, and thus implement successful strategies. Culture unifies different groups of people. First, you have to build a company culture that encourages staffs to think of new strategies to be implemented, and then, you've got to define a process to improve this idea by stimulating the development of it; and then, you have to define the metrics to measure the success of the strategy, whether it's a strategy concerning growth, or employees satisfaction or clients satisfaction. Culture is soft, but one of the most critical success factors to support strategy execution and make a leap of the digital transformation.

There is no magic formula or prescribed solution to digital transformation. Building the bridge between today and the future requires enthusiasm, belief, determination, hard capabilities, soft touches, and commit to a more responsive way of working in general. Mastering the soft elements well makes the business more adaptable to the dynamic environment, deal with change frictions, ride above change curves, and reach the inflection point of the digital transformation.


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