Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Metaphorical Perception about Digital Transformation

The art of digital is to connect the old and new, to embrace the full spectrum of colors, all sorts of shapes & sizes; ultimately make a leap and accelerate business maturity.

The shift to digital cuts across industrial sectors, geographic territories, and leadership roles. The digital transformation is now spreading rapidly to enable organizations of all shapes and sizes to reinvent themselves. Change is inevitable, and the speed of change is increasing. Although we have to change with the "tide," we have to stand firm on our principles which would guide us to change for better and forward. We have to engage our sixth sense to decipher when to make incremental changes, and when to make a big leap. We also have to re-imagine "the art of possible," and convey a clear vision with vivid analogs or metaphorical perceptions about digital transformation, to make the journey foresightful, fun, innovative, goal driven and laser focus.


The classic transformation metaphor: The renowned metaphor of the caterpillar that becomes a butterfly demonstrates the digital transformation vividly and beautifully. As the caterpillar begins the transformation process, it still has mobility and more than less its qualities of being a caterpillar. As the caterpillar to butterfly transformation process reaches the “tipping point,” "being a caterpillar" status is disrupted, and the following parts of the process that produce the butterfly begin. The caterpillar becomes totally dysfunctional and can not be recognized as a caterpillar any longer, the transformation reaches the inflection point, only then can the butterfly emerge. This beautiful nature phenomenon also vividly describes the journey of digital transformation. Continuous digital disruptions today allow for “new” energy to flow and bring with it something that would not be born without it. Dealing with the challenge of digital transformation requires accelerated digital mindsets, leveraging multidisciplinary knowledge and insight, taking an end-to-end response and a structural approach. In order to transform into a delightful butterfly, a highly diverse group almost always accelerates innovation dramatically as well as spurs general creativity. When the business can truly reinvent itself based on a unique set of capabilities as well as differentiated competency, and then a high-innovative, highly mature digital master is fully developed, not for controlling, but further propelling for the next level of progression and enchantment.


The classic fable about change for survival in the animal world: There is a classic fable about a lion and a gazelle to analogize such a "surviving and thriving cycles." The lion wakes up and starts running, otherwise it will not catch lunch. The gazelle does the same but, in this case, to avoid becoming lunch. Either way, you have to move to survive. Digital businesses today are also facing the fierce competitions and unprecedented uncertainty and velocity. Hence, changeability for either individuals or organizations are no longer “nice to have,” but “must have” capability, not only for surviving but for thriving. “Moving out of the comfort zone” is challenging for many people, but it is the prerequisite for either innovation or digital evolution. It takes courage, motivation, discipline and persistence to get out of comfort zone. It might sound like a cliche, the trick is understanding that moving out of a comfort zone leads to the creation of a new comfort zone which in turn will require you to move out "of" it again. This continuous moving "out" of your comfort zone or throw yourself a curve is complemented by the cycle of self-development -discovery, autonomy, and mastery, and build you into a thriving digital master.

The hyperconnected, and highly innovative digital business or world can also be analogized by the pollination phenomenon in the nature world: Pollination is needed for plants to reproduce in the nature world, and so many plants depend on bees or other insects as pollinators. Digital innovation today also needs to be catalyzed and amplified via enterprise digital pollination activities such as sharing, brainstorming, co-creating knowledge,etc., based on the enterprise social platforms or tools.  Innovative organizations naturally have closer connections between functions and all functions and levels are more intimately involved with the market and each other on a regular basis, based on flatter social and organizational structures. Policies, processes, and commitment (resources, not words) from top management should establish and foster curiosity. To continuously innovate within organizations, individuals and groups need to connect and communicate more openly, easily and effectively. To amplify innovation effect, it is important to make the cross-pollination of ideas and a close connection to the market for all parts of the organization. These innovation communities can be engaged in offering ideas, enhancing these ideas by combining and building upon one another to shape solutions and work together to implement resulting innovations, and then further extend into innovation hubs or clusters. This collective action enhances the innovation experience and leads to the higher diffusion rate, amplify innovation effect, and create significant business values.


Digital transformation is both the art and science. The art of digital is to connect the old and new, to embrace the full spectrum of colors, all sorts of shapes & sizes; ultimately make a leap and accelerate business maturity. The science of digital is to take a structural approach for dynamically transforming a mixture of systemic-intensity-related capabilities, overcoming maturities challenges, dealing with management paradoxes, and delivering quantitative & qualitative business result with the steadfast speed.



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