The Rules for Success in the Digital Century

Have you updated the way you manage business for the 21st century yet?

There are many names to describe the new business environment: digital era, information age, collaborative economy, sharing economy, to name a few. The issue is not what you call it; it’s what you do about it.

You wouldn’t hire a typist who has never used a computer, no matter the number of words per minute nor the accuracy rate. Yet, the majority of people employed today are still using their skills and methodologies from the pre-digital age.

  • Are you still writing business plans?
  • Are you still developing strategies?
  • Are you still using business process management?
  • Are you still using fixed position descriptions?
  • Are you still depending on policies and procedures to regulate workers?
  • Are you still using individual goal-setting to develop and motivate workers?
  • Are you still using fixed teams to get things done?
  • Are you still putting managers through leadership development courses expecting leaders to emerge?
  • Are you still hiring and developing workers for the business they are doing today?

These are just a few examples of business practices that made a lot of sense (and money) in the past. They worked because the market and competition was stable, because the business environment was predictable and there was enough time for management decisions to be made by management, rolled out by the business units, and continuously adjusted or improved.

Today the environment in which businesses must perform is not stable or predictable. By the time a decision is communicated down, it can already be irrelevant.

Driven by technology, the connectivity between users, customers, workers, suppliers, the community and Things, is so high that it provides more than enough energy and intelligence that powers organisational performance. The energy and intelligence generated by a small team of executives in their offices pales as a minute speck in comparison.
That’s why the organisation of the 21st century prioritises:

  • Business models, not just strategies;
  • Design thinking, not just business processes;
  • Values, including meaning, purpose and identity, not just policies;
  • Culture, not just procedures;
  • Collaboration, not just fixed positions and competencies;
  • Customer experience, not just customer service;
  • Lean startup and agile methodologies, not just plans;
  • Contextual leadership, not just leaders.

The thing about using outmoded anything is they are not only less effective, they begin to cost a lot more to maintain. Unless, of course, you can afford to hold onto the past for sentimental or egotistical reasons.
So has your organisation woken up to the 21st century yet? Hurry, a new world of opportunities is waiting.

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