Thursday, April 11, 2019

The “Soul” of Digital Organization

Consider nature and culture as to self-organized but interlaced environments, and humans are vehicles of natural and cultural solutions.

We are experiencing the major societal transformation from the industrial machine age with information scarcity to the digital era with knowledge abundance. Consider digital organizations as the self-organized but interlaced environment, going digital is the fundamental shift from the mindset to behavior. It is the movement from static to flow, silo to holistic, and mechanical to organic. To dig deeper, what is the “soul” of the digital organization, how to design, nurture, and renew a highly energetic and high-performance digital business?

Growth: With the exponential growth of information and rapid changes, either individually or at the business level, the growth mindset is in strong demand to rise above the learning curves and make the progressive movement. Unlike some traditional companies which are slow to change, perhaps still can survive in the considerably static industrial age. Digital organizations like organic living systems must keep changing and growing for adapting to the nonlinear business dynamic. Nowadays, information is one of the most invaluable business assets, information potential directly impacts the business potential of the organization. It becomes the growth force of the business because the power of information can help the business capture growth opportunities and develop the products or services to delight customers. Information does not live alone but permeates into everywhere in the company, it becomes one of the most time-intensive pieces of innovation puzzle. It’s the digital force to nurture creativity, drive change, and enable business capability development. One of the key characteristics of digital organizations is customer-centricity. Customer-led business growth can truly create the momentum for catalyzing business changes and bringing high-performance business result. Forward-looking organizations cultivate the culture of learning, encourage the growth mindset, and manage the healthy learning and doing continuum, explore emerging opportunities and build differentiative business competencies for unlocking business growth.

Hybridity: The digital paradigm that is emerging is the dynamic organization with hybridity of workforce, knowledge, processes, and competencies. Going digital doesn’t mean to just tear down all the old things in the previous era; in reality, digitalization means how to strike the right balance of stability and change, physical and virtual working environment, leadership decisiveness and collective insight; standard and creativity. Today’s digital workforces are multigenerational, multicultural, multi-geographical, and multitasking. Each generation has different leadership, communication, working, and learning styles, they also evolve digital transformation in a different way at different paces. Therefore, different organizations must tread on their own path of going digital by applying interdisciplinary management discipline and tailored business solutions. The hybrid, networked, and extended modern working environment enabled by the digital computing technology and collaboration platform enhances the flexible organizational structure, delayer overly rigid hierarchical organizational structures and processes; inspire idea sharing and brainstorming, engage employees and partners, as well as improve customer experience and satisfaction.

Change/Innovation: Today we see a rapid shift in the digital paradigm. At the enterprise level, successful changes are often linked to the “soul” of the organization itself. Digital lifts the business and world to the next level of innovation era. Innovation is the most wanted change. It is the mechanism through which we grow and evolve something to something better or something new. The digital organization does have a creative soul for nourishing great ideas and inspiring innovation. Many companies have gone through a period of introspection believe that they already and implicitly understand the nature of innovation and become more creative and innovative than ever. With the increasing speed of changes, innovation management life cycle is shortened and innovation capability has become dynamic. The digital innovation has a broader spectrum and extensive impact. At the organizational level, innovations happen at the intersection of people and IT, customers and business. Transformational leadership positively associates with organizational innovation, which is measured with a market-oriented criterion.

Collaboration: The real power of emerging digital technology comes from the innate appeal of interacting socially and intellectual stimulation that people derive from sharing what they know, expressing opinions, brainstorming new ideas, co-solving tough problems, and learning from each other enthusiastically. Collaboration is the very soul of the digital organization. Real-time communication and cross-silo collaboration are critical to develop and sustain a dynamic workplace in which trust is built between people in relationship receptively and thoughtfully interacting with interest and care for one another’s needs and activities. Digital platforms and technologies enable social behavior to take place online, endow interactions with scale, provide platforms for content creation and distribution, and transform the group communication to the collective problem-solving scenario. Digital leaders today must be able to foster a workplace that thrives on cross-functional communication, collaboration, and social interaction in building business competency and create a context in which people can collaborate and they are empowered, respected and make collective decisions. That is the essence of the people-centric business with the collaboration soul and digital heartbeat.

Self-management: Living systems are self-organizing, there is no genetic manager. The digital organizations are like the living system which is self-adaptive and self-renewing. For many traditional organizations, sometimes the business has become "unconscious" because it is no longer responding to the external environment. The soul of the digital organization is self-management. Self-organizing is about empowerment and trust. You know the team will deliver the best outcome and give them the freedom to do it on their way. A self-organizing team, thus, have full authority on the initiatives, practices, processes, tools, engineering methods they would like to use to build the products or services. Trust, but verify. The organization should embed transparency into the business processes and inspect what the team is doing, but they should not dictate to the team how to do it and how to measure their own performance. The digital organization with “self-management” soul can adapt to changes and make “conscious” business choices or decisions effectively and effortlessly.

Consider nature and culture as to self-organized but interlaced environments, and humans are vehicles of natural and cultural solutions. The emerging sociological digital organization is alive, vibrant, fluid, responsive, and resilient. Still, the very soul of digital business is about people. People are the masters of change and innovation, leap their business up to the next level of organizational performance and maturity.


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