Saturday, February 23, 2019

Taking a Systematic Approach to Lead Change and Drive Digital Transformation

Digital transformation efforts need to be undertaken as the means of getting to a designated different capability to accomplish a defined goal and manage a seamless digital continuum.

With overwhelming growth of information and continuous disruptions, looking forward is not always so easy, often it’s cloudy. Driving progressive change is even more difficult. The most complex topic during transformation is how to deal with uncertainty especially when you change many things such as people, processes, culture, systems, and organization as the whole at the same time. It is a complicated moment for all people in the organization at all levels and at the same time. How to take a systematic approach to lead changes and drive digital transformation smoothly?

Make structural inquiries: Change without good reason and adding value is futile and useless. Asking questions, besides telling is an important tool to build consensus and make a positive change. To lead change systematically, do not just ask one or two random questions, ask them in a structural way continually. Before jumping into big “HOW,” the big “WHY” and “WHAT” sort of questions help to clarify the purpose and goals of changes; also help people envision the preferred future that will influence them in the present, and pull them into that direction. Digital organizations are like living systems interwoven by many interdependent systems. Framing the right set of questions helps business leaders and teams become aware of the other "systems" that they interact with and the relationships between these systems, such as: “What is the bigger picture here?" "How is your current problem or goal related to your team, departmental, organizational, or industry context?" Lead by questions. Business leaders and managers do not just provide answers, more importantly, they should evoke more questions to deepen the understanding, and they should facilitate to get collective feedback and embrace multiple answers to the questions. It's not a matter of whether you should ask or tell. It's important to do what is right in a situation and discuss things as appropriate.

Leverage multiple perspectives: To explore the emerging digital horizon with multilayers of nonlinear business relationships, marketing dynamics, hyperconnectivity, and interdependence, it’s important to step outside of the system and adopt different perspectives to gain an in-depth understanding of interrelationships rather than isolated things, understanding patterns of changes rather than static snapshots, get to know the external changing connected environment or the entire business ecosystem. Systems Thinking engenders new perspectives or actions as part of the process of creating a cross-disciplined understanding of the business, and focus on managing a portfolio of relevant cross-border strategic synergies and business interdependence with the appropriate mix of enabling organizational elements and maintaining the right level of digital balance. It ensures that the enterprise is connected to all appropriate eco-system, lattice or otherwise, touch points, for improving knowledge flow and catalyzing business change and growth.

Make good assumptions: To deal with high velocity, unprecedented uncertainty, and dynamic business new normal, business leaders and professionals have to challenge automatic assumptions or some industry best practices because they might be already outdated, some new information and emerging events keep evolving. Perhaps you will never have complete information for strategic decision-making. It’s critical to gain a contextual business understanding, look for something “hidden,” which is not always obvious, read between the lines, in order to eliminate pre-conceptual assumptions or unconscious bias. It’s also important to leverage Systems Thinking for making necessary and logical assumptions which are based on some important bits and bytes of information and knowledge-based perception, discover interconnectivity and interdependence, in order to evaluate a new market, new technology or any business growth opportunity, and steer the business forward with cautiously optimistical way.

Encourage creative brainstormings: In a high mature digital organization, the majority of the employees at all levels are open to new ideas, experimenting with new ways of doing things to spark innovation. Digital adaptation is faster if made with the full involvement of people by breaking down silos and communication barriers such as outdated processes, procedures, practices, etc. People can take initiatives to step outside of the box, seek additional knowledge and experience, brainstorm fresh ideas, and focus on the learning opportunities provided by assignment, rather than on the status quo. Business management leverages feedback mechanism, builds multiple pathways for enforcing communication effectiveness and impact, inspires creativity, and instills positive energy. The collective creativity is not just a sum of creative pieces, but the creative competency of the business for making meaningful business achievement and leading the organization up to the next level of the growth cycle and innovation maturity.

Solve problems systematically: Change is never for its own sake. Fundamentally, making changes and running businesses are the problem-solving continuum. Generally speaking, a problem is a difference between an expectation (vision or intention) and the actual situation (current reality) coupled with a negative feeling, there are some issues need to be fixed. It’s important to take a structural way of identifying the root causes and solving problems effectively. More specifically, the business management should determine why problems happened; how problems escalated; which areas of the organization were affected; develop a sound process to identify and prioritize alternative solutions, test every assumption if possible, and weighing in varying factors to come up with the premium solution. Many of today’s problems are not isolated, it’s also helpful for leveraging Systems Thinking to identify multiple, perhaps interconnected problems, so later, the business can figure out the holistic solution to fix them without too much side effect.

Digital transformation efforts need to be undertaken as the means of getting to a designated different capability to accomplish a defined goal and manage a seamless digital continuum. It's important to leverage systems thinking for understanding the variety of business relationship, take logic processes and stepwise scenario for leading changes and driving digital transformation in a more structural way.


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