Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The “Shapes and Colors” Mislead Progressive Digital Transformation

To explore the art of possibility and accelerate the progressive change, don’t always take a shortcut by going straight line, wearing dark glasses, or getting stuck in the little thinking box and comfort zone.

Nowadays change is unavoidable and disruption is inevitable. The multidimensional digital transformation provides impressive advantages in terms of the speed of delivering business solutions and the ability to adapt to changes. It is the radical change that “the company reinvents itself” by fine-tuning its underlying processes, functions, culture, or business model. Digital transformation is a tough journey with bumpy road, having numerous barriers and many pitfalls on the way. Here are a few shapes and colors perhaps mislead the progressive digital transformation。

Straight line: Traditional organizations are top down hierarchy and traditional management often apply one way communication and practice linear logic to drive efficiency. Linear systems are based on the arithmetic principle - doubling the input doubling the output, adding two inputs together leads to adding the two outputs. It does not encourage cross-functional communication and collaboration. The matter of fact is, in the physical or business world, most relationships are nonlinear, change is continuously happening and spiraling up in such a dynamic environment. The “VUCA” new normal is nonlinear due to the mixed structures, increased flux, hyperconnectivity, and unpredictability. Taking linear logic or process to handle transformative change often won’t work, perhaps even traps the organization to improve one part of the organization at the expense of other parts of the business. Therefore, from vision to communication to change to innovation, the linear “straight line” approach is perhaps misleading; the circular vision, golden circle or upward change spirals are the better shapes to picture a dynamic business normality. Organizational management should apply Nonlinear Thinking to do multidimensional analysis, and take a holistic approach to problem-solving. From the organizational structure perspective, the circular or onion-like organizational layer is different from the command-control type of linear hierarchy. From innovation management perspective, to drive up the spiral impact, organizations have to make a shift from overly focusing on linear individual line extension or renovation to developing a broader balanced portfolio with the right mix of incremental innovation and breakthrough innovation.

Black and white: The polarity or binary thinkers often take the “black and white” logic, embrace the opposite sides and take the two-dimensional lenses to perceive the multi-facet world. such mindset or view is too rigid in the outlook; too judgmental in managing relationship; and too static to sense the change. They are resistant to listen to the diverse viewpoint; have no intention to search for new knowledge, lack of curiosity to understand the other side of the coin; push the people to take the side too early. Many times, they become the part of problems which they try to solve. Because they only focus on symptoms, or catches the conventional understanding of content, but lack of systems thinking skill to gain contextual insight beneath the surface. Collectively, group polarization has become one of the biggest pitfalls in decision making. To improve business professionalism and leadership maturity, people with binary thinking process need to train themselves with systems thinking -to see how the parts connected with the whole, independent thinking -to shape your own opinion by leveraging different resources for information collection, and see the colorful world as it always is.

Inside the box: Every mind has a certain box, some bigger and some smaller. “The box" is a mental construct made up of self-imposed and environmental components that one operates within. Silo, old rules, unconscious bias, and outdated knowledge inside the box is what leads to a static mindset, decrease in imagination or simply not fit. To dig into the root cause of many problems and accelerate change, it’s important to diagnose and solve those issues from the mindset level. Thinking outside "the box" means doing something outside of the confines of the construct. When one leaves those old thoughts and standards to seek additional knowledge and experience, they are stepping outside that box to unfamiliar territory. Look at what other people have inside their boxes, find out how their ideas different from what's in your box, and shape the bigger box of thinking. Thinking outside the box also suggests to throw conventional wisdom and pure linear logic out the window for a while, and to let the creative energy flow. From the organizational knowledge management perspective, stale knowledge is easy to get expired. Collectively, to encourage out of the box thinking and accelerate changes, knowledge cannot be managed like those other hard assets. More attention needs to be placed on the conditions that allow knowledge to flow and generate value rather than try to manage or control knowledge, to enable business leaders and professionals framing the bigger thinking boxes or working across multiple boxes to solve problems holistically.

The digital world is nonlinear, multidimensional and colorful. To explore the art of possibility and accelerate the progressive change, don’t always take a shortcut by going straight line, wearing dark glasses, or getting stuck in the little thinking box and comfort zone. Be adventurous to take a detour for making new discoveries and enjoying the emerging scenes, appreciate the full color themes, and practice out-of-them-box thinking all the time, in order to make the seamless digital paradigm shift.


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