This is the first of three articles on embracing digitization, transformation and innovation.
It is becoming more and more apparent that we are living in a moment of profound possibility and enormous disruption. Where the old business paradigms are dying and innovative new ones are emerging, especially creating new ways of integrating people and technology through focusing digitization efforts.
What matters most in our VUCA landscape and business environment is how we pay attention, adapt and transform whatever roles we play and organizations we are in. To ensure that we survive, thrive and flourish, in purposeful and meaningful ways, that are valued, appreciated and cherished by the people, organizations, stakeholders and customers we serve and the world we inhabit.
Digitization is a genuine source of competitive advantage
The Boston Consulting Groups’ (BCG) Most Innovative Companies Report 2018, states that:
At leading innovators, R&D and new-product development have become digital endeavours. Eleven of the fifty companies named in BCG’s 2018 ranking of the most innovative companies – including seven of the top ten — are digital natives and thus digital innovators by definition.
Digitization is a pervasive trend across all industries
Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes is worried Australian businesses aren’t accepting they will soon almost universally be technology companies.
He states that the biggest mistake governments and businesses are making right now is thinking automation and technology are problem only the technology industry has to face, because we all have to face it!
“As every company becomes a software company, technology became a true source of advantage a genuine source of competitive advantage. It doesn’t matter if you’re a media company or a bank or an insurance company or a doctor, some form of technology’s going to be there.”
The shift to digitization is difficult
The Boston Consulting Groups’ Most Innovative Companies Report 2018, suggests that we ask ourselves three key questions and they all relate to taking a strategic, systemic and human centred approach to innovation:
1. Strategy. How do we apply technologies that expand the horizons of the possible in terms of new products, services, and business models?
2. Operations and Processes. How do we apply digital technologies to drive innovation, leveraging new tools, platforms, and processes (such as agile) in order to turn insights into new products and services?
3. Organization. How do we transform ourselves into digitally capable organizations and cultures that can bring digital innovations to market and make them work?
Initiating the cultural transformation
At ImagineNation™ our research, experience and knowledge reinforce the fact that all digitization efforts, no matter how intentional and well resourced, will fail unless the operating culture transforms to support their successful application.
This is reinforced by Deloitte, in their recent article “Digital workplace and culture – How digital technologies are changing the workforce and how enterprises can adapt and evolve” where they state that there has never been more pressure on companies to develop a positive, productive digital culture:
• 87% of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges,
• 50% call the problem “very important.”
“It is the job of the organization to create and support a singular vision that everyone is working towards, whether that is in an office or online. No matter where an organization is on the path to digital transformation, executives can take steps to create a supportive, adaptive workplace for the people who can help their organization grow to the next level”.
How to embrace digitization and innovation – how to do it, well, or better
The obvious first and yet uncomfortable step is to expose and challenge current operating beliefs and assumptions, to then shift mindsets and be open and receptive to letting go of what has worked in the past.
To know how to sense, perceive and embrace the enormous possibilities and opportunities digitization might bring to people, customers and organizations into the future.
a. Understanding the impact of mindsets
Mindsets influence the way people seek to fulfil their purpose & strategic mandate, and capture how we think, feel, decide & how we act as individuals & as whole organizations.
All organizational types demonstrate preferred mindsets which are expressed in behaviors, systems & artifacts, all of which then impact on their ability to grow and transform. An organization’s set of mindsets about innovation and digitization will significantly impact on its ability to embrace and apply them as positive, productive & competitive levers in the face of disruption and VUCA times.
This is illustrated in Figure 1 below.
b. Quantifying and shifting mindsets
The Organizational Growth Indicator® (OGI®) outlines the 4 principal mindsets that are essential for organizations and leaders to embrace in order to grow and sustain future success through disruption.
To understand, manage leverage the impact of these mindsets, it is important to take a strategic, systemic and human centered approach involving:
1. Diagnosing and understanding what mindsets leaders and the organization currently utilize the most.
2. Exploring where they need to shift – what mindsets leaders and organizations need to master if they are to adapt to & innovate with current and emergent changes.
3. “Unlearning” old assumptions, beliefs and attitudes in regards to how business usually operates and functions.
4. Actively rocking the boat and challenging the status quo by learning afresh how to be, think and do things differently to effectively transform and grow through disruption.
Initiating a culture that supports digitization
BCG’s data shows that:
“Support for a more radical approach to innovation is getting stronger. Moreover, by wide margins, strong innovators are much more likely to pursue disruptive or radical processes and cultures governing innovation projects. These companies understand that technological advances, like time, wait for no one- and that the need to transform their innovation functions, as well as their broader organizations, for the digital world is urgent”.
Taking the first steps, which may be considered as radical, for some leaders and organizations, includes:
• Be-ing flexible and creating a safe environment where people have permission to experiment with creative ideas and make mistakes without retribution so that they are trusted to learn by “failing fast.”
• Taking simple steps to make people matter by integrating human aspects into the digital workflow, by teaching people how to better interact, communicate, team & network seamlessly with each other, despite all of the technology available.
• Ensuring that people have room to grow and feel like they are part of the team, by curating and creating digital experiences for people, so that they feel connected and included even if they are spread out across the globe.
As Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, states:
“Most technology disruptions that come along generally create more jobs than they destroy,” “Almost always that they come with a huge amount of benefit for their achievements – the cheaper goods, faster deliveries, safer roads whatever it is.”
At ImagineNation™ we lead the way and help businesses achieve their innovation goals by challenging businesses to be, think and act differently to create a world where people matter and innovation is the norm.
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Janet Sernack is an ICF ACC accredited executive coach, corporate trainer, group facilitator and culture and change consultant with some of Australia’s and Israel’s top 100 companies. She is the Founder of ImagineNation™ an innovation education company that provides innovation e-learning programs including The Coach for Innovators Certified Program™ experiential learning events including The Start-Up Game™. Follow @JanetSernack