Just as Billy Joel coined the term “New York State of Mind”, the Fourth Revolution might be associated with a “Digital State of Mind”. The major drivers of disruption – social media, big data, mobility (anywhere, anytime computing), cloud and now AI and robotics – have radically changed how we work, the nature of competition and customer expectations. With technology changing so fast, it is easy to think that mastering these drivers is the main path to success. However, an increasing amount of research is pointing to the fact that leaders are the true differentiators.
In an article published in the Harvard Business Review in 2014, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, authors Didier Bonnet and George Westerman concluded that a leader’s capabilities had a huge impact on the organization’s capacity to fulfill technology’s potential. They offer as examples: the ability to develop a cohesive vision, the willingness to redefine work processes and aptitude to break down silos especially at the leadership level.
I was pleased to take part in a similar study being undertaken by The Global Center for Digital Transformation (GCDT), looking at the skills required to lead through disruptive change. The researchers are characterizing these skills as a set of behaviours.
The essence of this type of research indicates that technology per se is not the true challenge; there are many gifted technologists, IT professionals and vendors ready and willing to help. But rather, it is the cultural impact, the required collaboration and planning agility, amongst other factors, that are presenting the biggest stumbling blocks for many organizations. It is in part why we’ve seen the rise of the Chief Digital Officer role over the last 3-4 years. Whomever takes on this role (whether it’s the CIO, CDO or CMO) is much less important in my view, than ensuring the leaders in question have the right state of mind.
As a summary of this research, here is my take on Top Five most Impactful Attributes of a Digital Mindset:
As evidenced by research from Jacob Morgan, HRB and GCDT, managers of the future are very different than managers of the past. Organizations can no longer approach digital as a “thing” to do but rather a way OF doing things. Perhaps Einstein said it best: We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
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