Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Nonlinearity and Change Management

When systems are not just about linear relationships, they are defined as nonlinear dynamic. 

The hyperconnectivity nature of digital breaks down the functional, geographical, or even organizational border. Businesses today become much more nonlinear, interconnected and interdependent than ever. When systems are not just about linear relationships, they are defined as nonlinear dynamic. Applying interdisciplinary management to gain an understanding of nonlinearity as the very characteristic of the digital organization and business ecosystem could be at the tipping point for managing changes and driving the digital paradigm shift.

The business nonlinearity comes through different characteristics such as mixed structures, diversity, volatility, ambiguity, unpredictability, and increased flux: Due to the “VUCA” nature of digitalization, change is unavoidable and digital disruption is inevitable. It becomes complex if things do interact, particularly in the case of "nonlinear" interaction, since you can’t predict the actual effect of those business activities. Digital enterprises are inherently and intensely complicated. These changes do not happen in isolation from each other in predictable ways. They act as a complex and unpredictable system, feeding, amplifying or ameliorating the effects of others and shaping organizational structures and systems. Therefore, organizations need to take systematic steps in evolutionary Digital Change Management. It means to make a radical shift from a silo and linear classic management style to holistic and nonlinear management discipline.

Non-linear thinking is emerged as a system thought process to handle changes and problem-solving: Human thought is characterized by expansion in multiple directions, rather than in one direction, and based on the concept that there are multiple starting points from which one can apply logic to problem-solving. In the beginning, you often make a one-dimensional, linear, list of things to do. In the end, when you have gone through the multidimensional analysis or process when everything else is in place, you practice nonlinear thinking and holistic change management and problem-solving. It is necessary to leverage digital management methodologies and practices, to enable business leaders or professionals framing bigger thinking boxes, to work across the multiple boxes, and resolve problems technically, scientifically, philosophically, psychologically, sociologically, or simply put, holistically.

It is important to apply interdisciplinary knowledge and science to understand nonlinearity and manage changes: Companies that are skilled at managing business nonlinearity can gain advantages by pushing the boundaries of a more sophisticated business mix. A part of a business system emits more energy than it is normally supposed to, that is going beyond the linear response of the part. Small changes in the initial conditions could have large and unpredictable consequences in the outcomes of the system. Hence, applying interdisciplinary management to gain an understanding of nonlinearity is critical for managing changes and digital transformation. More specifically, there are two important things that will be important in interdisciplinary management. First, it is gaining the necessary knowledge to understand and manage holistic digital ecosystems. Secondly, it is to understand how the people factor affects the business system, and then managing the nonlinear system and the people of the system.

Digital transformation is worth its weight because digital businesses and their people have to get used to the "VUCA" digital new normal, learn through their interactions with the environment. They act, observe the consequences of their actions, make inferences about those consequences, and draw implications for future actions. The purpose of managing change by leveraging nonlinear thinking and taking interdisciplinary discipline is to amplify the change effect and ensure that the business as a whole is superior to the sum of pieces.


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