In this dynamic world, organizations who fail to innovate will also fail to survive in the long run. And many organizations have not been able to keep pace with the growing disruption in the digital realm. With new emerging technology exploration, entire business models are seeing a transformation. Technology is no more limited to the concern of a CEO or CIO alone; it has gained a strategic stature which demands engagement and action from every level of employee across all functions. Digital investment, innovation, prioritization, development, and adoption will have to be integrated into the organizational culture for companies exploring to overcome redundancy in the system and thrive in the digital world.
In an insightful session conducted by the unique combo of stalwarts from PwC India, Ms. Chaitali Mukherjee, Leader - People and Organization and Murali Talasila, Leader - Innovation, it was categorically made clear that it is indeed ‘the time’ to adopt digital across every business. And digital goes beyond technology to reflect a mindset that embraces constant innovation, decision-making, and integration of technology into all phases of business. And for this, it is crucial to bring every leader up to speed. Let’s not just talk about a culture of innovation and growth, Time to act. Let’s do it!
In order to unpack the Digital Leadership journey, the first step is to define an organization’s digital purpose. And for this, it is necessary to know its four archetypes.
Efficiency Seekers - They are focused on doing business smarter and faster-using technology. The objective is to measure digital outcomes and bring in new skills to the workforce. Some organizations who fall under this category have been through at least one cycle of disruption, hence are more confident. However, only 59% incorporate digital strategy into corporate strategy. There is thus a need for efficiency seekers to go beyond their comfort zone - beyond the speed and efficiency target.
Modernizers - They want to create new capabilities with their leaders encouraging innovation at all levels. They are embracing more advanced definitions of digital and their efforts have made improvements in talent attraction as well as retention. However, there is a need to integrate their digital strategy into corporate strategy at a much higher level. Modernizers seem to be missing out by not actively developing skills that align more closely with where they want to take their organizations forward. Hence, modernizers need to transform the workforce by assimilating the skills, practices and infrastructure to support digital transformation.
Redefiners – They aim to bring in change and re-define the business model at its core. With an intention to embrace the mindset of innovation, flat decision-making and the integration of technology across the business, redefiners have the right mindset. However, their digital investments are not yet driving success. They are delivering less than expected and one of the reasons associated with it is non-alignment of digital with corporate strategy. Also, leaders and employees lack digital acumen and does not encourage innovation across the business. Hence, Redefiners are less capable in emerging technologies. Hence, it is imperative for them to bring in experts from outside the industry to help them deliver structured programs and new approaches related to the same.
Industry Explorers – They are breaking grounds in new markets and industries. Less than one fourth actually incorporates digital strategy into the overall corporate strategy. Inspite of having some of the boldest aspirations, this group puts the least emphasis on its employees and customers. It is much needed that they begin embracing digital as a force for cultural, process and strategic change. With the current gap in digital know-how to lead, it is time to reflect and change for the betterment.
Secondly, one needs to understand and gauge the roles that people will play in the digital leadership journey. The prominent three roles can be segmented as:
Digital Wizards – They research and develop new technologies, as well as specialize in one or more technologies. Digital wizards evangelize technology and pave the way for digital adoption.
Digital Dot Connectors – They have the ability to connect multiple areas to leverage digital to further innovate or optimize. By connecting digital and business case, they also keep a track on overall digital health and its impact on businesses.
Digital Users – They possess foundational digital literacy. Adopts and actively use digital platform and executes digital operations.
Once the roles are clear and defined, it is necessary to know what skills, mindset and behaviors are required for leading the digital journey successfully. Each role type, depending on the digital purpose, will play a pivotal role in the digital revolution voyage.
And finally, create rapid prototyping of the entire Digital Leadership Journey. Articulate your organization’s digital purpose and list out the most important value you can foresee with the three roles adding in the journey’s digital leadership journey. Remember, the success ratio is dependent on aligning stakeholders with different personas and needs thereby connecting every dot within and outside the organization.
To summarize, disruption surrounds every organization and is all-pervasive. 64% of top financial performers say that their business faces a serious threat from disruption. 87% of companies believe that digital transformation is a competitive opportunity while a third say it’s a matter of survival. Hence, Digital is no more a choice. Also, there is a huge skill gap as 79% of CEOs are worried about the availability of key skills as rapid digital up-skilling is the way forward.
Let’s get ready to become digitally up-skilled, the only option to beat redundancy and make ourselves relevant. Act First, Act Fast!
(This article is based on a Masterclass on Digital leadership - How to overcome redundancy and thrive in the digital world at People Matters TechHR 2019.)