#Digital Pro – It’s a Mindset!
Digital transformation of the economy and the workplace is not a new phenomenon. It was already making rapid inroads thanks to digitalisation based on AI, big data and robotization, however the current Covid-19 confinement has provoked a huge step forward with almost everyone working from home, we have reached a new tipping point.
While digital transformation might have sounded far reached to some just a few months ago, today it has become clear that our ways of working will never return to the way things were and we all have to adapt to the “new normal”. The current situation has precipitated fundamental changes in our working practices; we have had to respond with agile thinking to transform our business routines digitally from one day to the next.
So how is a proper digital transformation set up for success?
When can we proudly conclude that we have transformed our business digitally and are up to speed? How do we know?
Here are just a few questions to think about:
- Does your digital workflow follow the same steps as your paper-world did?
- Are you still printing and archiving everything physically?
- Do you feel that it is faster to grab a piece of paper and draw up ideas?
- Do you have multiple versions of the same document saved on your laptop or server?
If you have answered yes to just one of the above questions, then your business might be digitalised in some areas, but a real digital transformation has not yet taken place.
First of all, let’s differentiate between digitalisation and digital transformation.
While the two terms are often wrongly used interchangeably, digitalisation is quite distinct from digital transformation.
According to Gartner, Inc. “digitalisation is the process of employing digital technologies and information to transform business operations.”
This means that digitalisation is more about business operations and hence quite distinct from digital transformation.
While a company might go through several digitalisation projects, “digital transformation, in contrast, is not something that the enterprises can implement as projects. Instead, this broader term refers to the customer-driven strategic business transformation that requires cross-cutting organisational change as well as the implementation of digital technologies.”
With this in mind going 100% digital becomes a much larger process covering all aspects of the business and its stakeholders coupled with the real need to switch your ways of thinking to become long-term competitive in a rapidly changing digital world.
With the sudden advent of increased remote working, business disruption, reshuffling of needs and priorities, a complete digital transformation has become more relevant than ever to most businesses.
At MindForest our experience has taught us to focus more on the human factor and less on the actual transformation when supporting clients in their digital change projects: In the course of many such projects we have identified 8 business areas that are – apart from one – often neglected, yet really need to be considered and remoulded in order to ensure success:
When transforming your business digitally it is necessary to review the overall business strategy. Is your ambition, vision and mission old, dusty and rusty, or said differently is your why, what and how still relevant to you and the market? Are you responding to market changes and disruptions?
Or is it time to review and redefine a certain focus area to become long-term competitive and successful?
What worked yesterday, might not work today and tomorrow. This is almost always the case when transforming digitally, you will need to redefine, realign towards your (new) NorthStar.
Being 100% digitally organised and operational requires workflows, processes roles and responsibilities to be reviewed and adapted. It is not enough to simply digitalise your existing manual processes. If the new digital workflow has the same number of steps (or even more) as your paper processes did, then it needs another overhaul. When transforming digitally, you should automatically be able to reduce the number of steps (and people involved) and hence become more efficient.
It’s like shopping: before we had to get into the car, drive to the shop, park, walk around the shop finding the right aisle, pick up the product, pay manually, pack the goods into the car and drive home, park, bring the goods into our home, etc.
Whereas with online shopping – done correctly – in a few clicks you have checked out your items and they are delivered to your doorstep. Simple, more ecological and time saving.
But do not forget, once your processes have been reappraised and clarified, it is imperative to communicate clearly to team members about what has changed and why.
For a digital transformation to be successful a key factor is the buy-in and full support of management. Your leadership needs to “trust the digital world”. Your approach will not be effective if at management level digital processes are not understood or considered efficient, nor if it remains necessary to continue printing paper copies to pass on within the organisation.
Leaders need to make the transition to exercising servant leadership with a productivity mindset. They will need to manage their teams virtually, giving them more autonomy and recognition of their competencies whilst still maintaining a sense of belonging to the organisation.
The change of mindset – ways of influencing and trusting – has to start in leaders heads.
Communication and Collaboration:
When transforming digitally, communication and collaboration methods also need to be reviewed and adapted to the new ways of working.
Uncertainties and changes need to be explained and clarified in terms of why, what, how, who and when.
Training in the use of appropriate tools and templates needs to be created, explained and integrated, so that the entire team feels included and familiar with the new workflows (and rules), tools and channels.
An often-neglected focus area when transforming your business to a digital state, concerns your business culture.
It is even more important to emphasize the uniqueness of your organisational culture when working digitally. This culture has to support your (new) strategy with clearly defined and lived values that shine through in internal and external business decisions and throughout your entire value chain and ways of working.
Furthermore, emphasis needs to be put on topics such as digital team-work and co-creation, capability building including empowerment and engagement.
Working digitally and remotely needs to be reflected in the work-life balance – clarifying what should be understood under “flexibility” and emphasizing the importance of time management, setting priorities as well as happiness and wellbeing “at work”.
The Infrastructure is the obvious key element to analyse when working on a digital transformation project. This covers everything from automization of processes over server access to information and cyber security. However, while many may only think in terms of IT hard and soft ware and the technical aspects; the behaviour and skillsets of the stakeholders are the real keys to success and should always be put first.
When undergoing a transformation to working and operating digitally – and even more so when also working fully remotely – the existence of a trusted (online) community to learn and share best practices, inspire and innovate is of fundamental advantage as a means of providing necessary support and access to new learning content. This applies at all stakeholder levels, both internally and externally, and will help to anchor the new ways of working, simultaneously creating an engaging and empowering digital culture unique to your business.
Last, but not least, but often put aside for later when working on change projects, regulations and laws change when we transform digitally. E-laws are different from physical labour laws, they reflect the roles played by borderless internet and e-provider locations and take such aspects as GDPR, employment law, marketing or service regulations into account.
Having merely scratched the surface of the chosen 8 business areas highlighted above, it is clear that transforming digitally takes more than just a digital implementation and an automatization somewhere along the value chain. All parties involved will need to commit to a deep and profound change in the way they work for the transformation to succeed.
Such a change has to be driven collectively and transversely, it needs to be understood, welcomed and co-created in an agile way.
It needs to be lived and breathed with conviction.
DIGITAL PRO – It’s a Mindset!
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