Wednesday, June 19, 2019

How to Deal with the Fuzzy Front End of Change and Digital Transformation

Going digital takes dynamic planning, dedicated execution, and holistic digital management disciplines.

We live in the “VUCA” digital new normal with higher volatility, uncertainties, complexity, and ambiguities The digital paradigm arises out of new knowledge; the emerging trends are the digital shapers to reinforce the very characteristics of the modern business such as enlightenment, “always-on,” and people-centricity, etc. There are opportunities and risks, confusions and frustrations on the way to going digital. How to deal with the fuzzy front end of the digital paradigm and make a smooth transition?

Decide strategic goals: Change is never for its own sake, especially the large scale change such as digital transformation is expensive and resource consuming. Start by identifying the goals for change in the organization especially those affected by trends. You have to determine why you are doing it; as well as what strategic goals and objectives you are trying to reach. In general, a goal is hard to articulate, as the exercise of goal setting is messy, a goal must comport a vision for a better state. Set strategic goals of digital transformation by applying “SMART” (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) principle. Make an objective assessment of the current state of the organizational maturity as well as the target state. Identify what generates the most value for the company especially for the long term, and express it in the strategic goals, as well as help managers keep their eyes on what matters. Make the strategic planning to deal with horizontal scanning environment and social monitoring, and know what to look for, how to set guidelines and when and how to make choices. Often businesses are overwhelmed with too many change initiatives with very low success rate. One of the pitfalls of Change Management is that the managers underestimate the resources necessary to successfully complete change initiatives. It’s important to laser focuses on the most critical challenge business needs to overcome, engage employees by co-setting their work goals, making strategic alignment and improve strategic flexibility.

Learn to ask tough questions: Leaders are great thinkers, visionaries, analyzer and synthesizer of the situation. Effective leaders want to gain an in-depth understanding of the issue or the change, they ask tough questions, get the multiple perspectives about the change, learn about the subject inside-out, and then apply their leadership qualities and skills to resolve the situation effectively. Asking questions also shows the openness of leadership. Effective leaders need to ask questions, they also need to assist in providing answers. Leaders may be inflexible about the goal but they are extremely flexible with the options for attaining that goal. They continue to ask thought-provoking questions such as: What’re the alternatives to do things; what’re the upside risks and what’re the downside risks? They are always looking for options and the only way to discover options is to ask. They will embrace alternatives if they make sense and reach the goal quicker and smartly. Great leaders have a lot of sincerity behind their questions, developed with a lot of patience & practice, they could gain more trust and respect by listening, asking, facilitating and deciding wisely.

Return on investment: Return on Investment is a ratio of the dollar amount the organization gains from change initiatives over what it initially spend in simple terms, and tells management how well the change repays the company. Digital transformation is now affecting many aspects of business within and around the business ecosystem, from operation to customer engagement to business models and processes innovation. A measurement system is a necessary foundation for continuous improvement. In many business situations, financial indicators only cover part of the story. The effective measurements selected should be part of a link to cause-and-effect relationships. The return on investment should take into account both financial and non-financial measures, assessing internal improvements, ongoing requirements as indications of future performance. Every metric should have a good reason for being measured. If measurements are then taken and analyzed, and the opportunity is provided to the related stakeholders to explain the variances, and then, the data-based decisions (investment, change management, etc,) can be made to make continuous improvement. The well-set measurement ensures systems, processes, procedures, etc, are being leveraged in their intended use to sustain changes.

To deal with the fuzzy front end of digital transformation demands a systematic approach to managing changes by gaining a multi-disciplinary understanding of the digital business ecosystem and constantly improving the business and seeing change as an opportunity. Going digital takes dynamic planning, dedicated execution, and holistic digital management disciplines.


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