Digital Transformation: Are The Glory Days Over?

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I read an article a few days ago about a leader who kept stressing about change. The teams were struggling to understand the leader. Many people on the ground were crying out loud as to how to have a change mindset? I can understand why the leader continuously harping on it but in reality, on the ground, they struggle to execute the change. These are common issues we heard about a lot.

There are many articles and books out there to help one to change and I will not divulge into it here. I like to address differently as in reality why many people struggle and adapt to changes.

Sceptical to innovation

Recently, I was in a conversation with a business owner who is keen to expand their business. Both the owner and partner are pretty confident that their business will grow every year as there is market demand for their services. While they anticipate the forthcoming growth next year, however, they are afraid to expand their infrastructure due to the current pandemic situation.

They spoke highly of their business model and strategy and I can vouch that there is a market demand as they are providing an essential service to the community. However, their competitors are everywhere and growing aggressively. The service they render and their value proposition is not exceptionally different from their competitors; hence I am kind of sceptical that their demand of growth is going to be exceptional growth.

Why am I pessimistic about their growth? I am merely stating the reality as the future outlook is going to be different. Digital Transformation is at the forefront; hence business model has to change. People’s (Consumer) behaviours are changing and they are getting more mature each day.

As an outsider listening to their predicament, I, therefore, shared with them that perhaps they should explore to transform and digitalize their business model. The conversation abruptly ended as I have been deemed as not supportive of their strategies and outlook.

I understand as it is very normal for one to react this way, as some will felt nervous as the thoughts of transformation require heavy investment, especially with new technologies. But they didn’t realize those cloud technologies are the economical option and will benefit businesses in the long run.

Holding on to Glory days

Forbes reported that 62% of employees hanging on to their comfort zone. Let me expand this, do you agree that many of us always yearning for the past? It is a common connotation we often used to reflect on how we used to do it successfully then. Some even say “back in those days, we successfully did well that way….”.

Similarly, in an organization, we often have new leaders on board. If you have been into MNC or large organizations, you often see changes at the top every two or three years. Some may look forward to new leaders but in reality, many will have their reservations.

The day came, the new leader boarded, he met with his leadership team trying to understand the current state of the organization, the business structure, and model; the current strategy and growth plan, and many more. Thereafter, the leader steps into his 100 days, the ground anticipating forthcoming changes in organization structure, some foresee new challenges, some anticipate new excitement, new roles, while some will observe new faces on board.

However, there is also some unfortunate one, they started to realize that they have been sidelined, their ideas and voices were unheard, they felt restless, and then there started the culture of the inner and outer circle and many more. 

One must understand that when a new leader is on board, everyone tends to yearn for attention. They yearn to be in the inner circle as the inner circle started to get recognition; the outer circle was left behind. Then we see mass attrition, bickering, and many more.

Does this sound familiar to you? Why is this happening? As a leader, would you like to overcome the inner and outer circle? But how do you overcome that?

Overcoming an elephant in the room

The unresolved bickering and mass attrition become more prominent. But are you able to address this promptly?

Let me share another experience I had. There were once, I have been led to share an issue aloud in a meeting. I knew and was very reluctant to speak out about this known issue that as I know they won’t be able to resolve it. True enough, as I opened the can of worm, emails started floating around in the air, arrows started shooting from one to another, and the issue was never being resolve then. Mind me, these are not mid-managers in the room, they are senior leaders of the organization. Are we merely whipping a dead horse? Or should one start to address the unspoken issues?

Being digital, need a drastic change in an organization, everyone needs to work collaboratively and harmoniously. However, as a Day Two organization, they have lots of bureaucracy issues that need to be addressed. 

According to Jabil’s report, one of the common barriers to digital transformation is Employee Pushback. It is a very common issue faced by many organizations regardless of whether they are small or large organizations. 

On the other hand, we cannot overlook the fact that employees are the main driver for digital transformation. Hence, cultural and behavioural change needs to take effect. Therefore to transform, both the organization and employees need to decide whether they like to be in a Day 1 or Day 2 organization. Let me end with Jeff Bezos’s quote on Day 2 organizations. “Day 2 is stasis, followed by irrelevance, followed by excruciating painful decline and followed by death” and that is why it is always Day 1 at Amazon.

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