Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Tales of Digital Transformation

Compared to changes, the transformation is more radical, with all sorts of ups and downs, bumps and curves. 

Unpredictability, uncertainty, the exponential growth of information, frequent disruptions, and the probability of surprising emergent properties bring both unprecedented opportunities and risks to organizations across industrial sectors and geographical locations today.

There are different aspects of business changes at different rates, organizations today need to constantly improve the business and see change as an opportunity and manage a seamless digital transformation.

Visible and invisible: Change is inevitable, but the success rate of change is very low, especially for the large scale of digital transformation, you have to change many parts, you have to transform the company's underlying functions and processes, rejuvenate the organizational culture, and optimize organization as a whole with adjusted digital speed.

There are both visible and invisible success factors for changes. One of the reasons change often fails because so many companies and business managers only focus on tangible, but they lack an in-depth understanding of invisible or intangible things, just getting them to consider the list of intangibles would be a breakthrough. If you only take the hard and visible business factors such as process or technology alone as an element of change management, you may miss the point and head to the troubles. There are soft and invisible forces such as communication, leadership, culture, etc, which will become the key factors for change success. In fact, more often than not, you have to dive deeper to see invisibles in order to read digital sentiment clearly.

More often than not, soft overcomes the hard, but it takes enormous strength to achieve it. To fine-tune “invisible” business elements for striking the right balance, learn to seek divergent views before developing a convergent conclusion; work to perceive issues from multiple points of view, identify trade-offs; make choices, while continually remaining open to discovering errors in one’s reasoning. Metaphorically, change is like the iceberg, usually, the large part underneath the water is invisible, but a crucial decisive factor for the success or failure of Change Management.

Art and science: Change Management is both science and art. The scientific part of management helps to set the policy, guidelines, structure, and methods to achieve business effectiveness and efficiency. However, in order to move up the organizational maturity from functioning to firmness to delight, the art of management will take the more crucial role in change management, innovation management, talent management and beyond in order to lead the business’s digital transformation seamlessly.

In reality, Change Management is a hybrid of both science and art as the science gets interpreted and colored to suit the varying situations and drive change smoothly. One major part of the art is about knowing how much science you need for each business change initiative. It involves a lot of planning, processes, risk management, and execution skills. It also requires an equal amount of people skills in identifying the right team composition, task assignments based on people skills and understanding team chemistry. It is also about having a common sense approach, being able to think in a structured manner and having the ability to engage and communicate. It is possibly more of an art.

Collaboration and competition: Digital does mean both the unprecedented level of mass collaboration and fierce competition at the global level. Healthy competition catalyze innovation and mass collaboration scale up changes and digital transformation. 

Due to the overwhelming growth of information and the shorten knowledge cycle, today’s digital workforce has to proactively learn and keep updating skills and build their professional competency. Business leaders should set principles and disciplines to discern the positive motivation or negative energy behind the competition. Healthy competition shouldn’t mean we want to be the same, fight for the same things. It means to be authentic and self-aware, either at the individual or organizational level, to become the best you can be, and to define your own success formula. 

On the other side, collaboration today, is less about mere information sharing and more about brainstorming and leveraging collective intelligence. As long as humans are unique, their mindsets, opinions, cultures, and views, etc, are equally unique and diversified. That results in both collaboration and competition depending on the context and situations.

Compared to changes, the transformation is more radical, with all sorts of ups and downs, bumps and curves. It brings both opportunities for business growth and chaos as pitfalls. Digital organizations and their people must learn through their interactions with the business environment, understand tales of changes, and then, apply their learning, act, observe the consequences of their actions, make inferences about those consequences, and draw implications for future actions, with the ultimate goal to make a smooth digital transformation.

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