Thursday, July 18, 2019

Integrating Soft Factors into Hard Business Capabilities for Accelerating Digital Transformation

 Strike the right balance of “push” and “pull” from multiple directions, integrate soft success factors into hard business competencies in order to drive change and accelerate the speed of digital transformation.

Digital transformation is the large scale change which has to be expanded in every dimension of the business and permeating into underlying organizational structures and functions. There is no magic formula or prescribed solution to digital transformation. So many companies and "managers" focus on the tangible, but they lack an in-depth understanding of the intangible business success factors as well as how to manage them effectively. Making a shift from operating a static and mechanic traditional business to running a dynamic living digital company is a tough journey. To build that bridge requires vision, belief, determination, enthusiasm, and breakthrough innovation. It’s important to integrate soft business success factors into hard business capabilities and make a commitment to drive progressive changes proactively and consistently.

Integrate soft communication into hard problem-solving competency: Fundamentally, running a business is an iterative business problem-solving continuum. In the “VUCA” digital new normal, there isn’t always a right or wrong choice in any situation. To overcome the “problem-solving” impasse, it’s critical to communicate, challenge, debate, learn, and open dialogue to close blind spots and bridge cognitive gaps. Communication as the soft skill has to be integrated into the hard problem-solving competency. Problem-solving today often has a very wide scope and takes an interdisciplinary approach to enforce cross-functional communication, peel back the layers to discover the root causes, in order to solve problems really matter and solve them in the right way. Generally speaking, communication gaps are caused by cognitive difference, ambiguous process, or inappropriate communication style, etc. In the business across vertical sectors, especially those strictly hierarchical large organizations with bureaucratic culture, there are too many power players or functional/process silos which cause communication bottlenecks or the dysfunctional management. The goal for improving communication transparency and effectiveness is to make hierarchical systems adaptive so that they can respond to the challenges of a highly complex, interconnected, and interdependent world. The company can improve its responsiveness and effectiveness by integrating communication into problem-solving competency, learning to seek divergent views before developing a convergent conclusion, paying attention to business context and intangible variables, and striking the right balance to manage an iterative business continuum.

Integrate soft culture into hard strategy management discipline: Culture defines people's mindset, attitude, and the organization's process. If there's no culture of execution, there would be no positive attitude and no good behavior. As the saying goes, culture eats strategy for dinner. The degree to which culture supports strategy depends upon the degree to which culture unifies its efforts to realize critical success factors, and thus implement successful strategies. If you only take the visible business factors such as process or technology alone as an element of the strategy execution, you may miss the point and head to the troubles without considering soft business factors such as culture. Culture is soft, but it’s one of the most critical success factors to support strategy execution and make a leap of the digital transformation. To accelerate strategy execution, it is important that business management has objectivity and humility to realize that their hard processes/systems are outdated or soft elements such as culture are ineffective, they need to keep modernizing, integrating, innovating, and optimizing.

Integrate the soft “change” sentiment into hard digital workforce management practice: It is important to build the digital workforce and workplace that change is encouraged, creativity is inspired, and the soft forces to changes are fine-tuned to catalyze digital transformation. In fact, part of the digital transformation journey is to prepare people for getting digital ready psychologically and professionally. Change leads to psychological insecurity. Majority of people have fear to move out of the comfort zone, and they have problems with uncertainty, risk, and fear. To make things worse, there are so many things employees will not tell their managers what's in their mind, and unfortunately, there are not so many things that are positive. Change Management is considered as a “soft” management discipline because there is no hard formula to manage changes and change itself keep changing with increasing paces. Thus, it’s important to integrate the soft change sentiment into hard digital workforce management. The good moment to change is when the top senses the urgency and the bottom feels the pain. Figuring out what employees are not saying might be the starting point to greater retention and a more engaged workforce. The logical scenario to manage a healthy workforce is to attract the right people with a growth mindset and positive attitude because running a dynamic digital business today is heavily dependent on those talented people who have the right aptitude and attitude, with autonomy and changeability, bring the creative energy to the workplace, and they are comfortable to be the change agent.

Although there is no one size fits all solutions to ensure the success of digital transformation, it is important to take a systematic approach, strike the right balance of “push” and “pull” from multiple directions, integrate soft success factors into hard business competencies in order to drive change and accelerate the speed of digital transformation.


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