How to build and nurture a Digital Leadership Culture
Digital organizations have plenty of advantages over analogue ones. Their decision making is faster, and documentation is better. They are more agile and innovative. Digital tools allow automation to increase efficiency, and artificial intelligence is becoming more and more useful for assisting us in our daily tasks and decreasing decision fatigue.
Digital Leadership enables us to take the same advantages into collaboration and teamwork. Building digital processes for communication and planning makes reporting more fluent, creates useful data and saves time. A digital strategy means you are prepared for the future. The transformation, however, is not easy. If not done properly, it can increase complications and conflict within the organization.
Here are 7+1 steps for building a working digital leadership culture.
1. Plan with the people.
Create a plan and timetable for the transition first. Communicate clearly what you are intending to do and involve people in working out these steps from the get-go. Involving the people increases their commitment and is an easy way to communicate what’s to come. You also get to assess your organization’s digital capabilities to know which parts will take the most effort and training. Workshops can be a good way to understand the initial conditions you are starting from and giving people a platform to voice ideas and concerns. You can also recruit transformation agents across the organization, who support their peers in different parts of the organization in the following phases.
2. Write down your goals and targets
You had a reason to begin driving digital transformation. The process is often long and demanding (up to five years). To keep your motivation and focus, write down what you wanted to achieve in the beginning. Share the vision with others and set goals for every area affected. Break them down to operational objectives and figure out concrete measures to reflect your progress upon. The initial goals support high level vision and objectives with measures visualize progress over time.
3. Pick out the tools and platforms for digital work.
Digital architecture can be what makes or breaks a digital transformation process. Communication, task management, planning and decision making on different platforms requires people to buy into them. Adoption is key, and the very first impressions are important in determining its success. Start with the easy-to-implement use cases first and move on to more challenging ones after reaching a high level of adoption.
4. Set up digital communication rules.
Figure out the rules for digital communication together with all employees. Establish clear guidelines for what communication channels are intended for which purposes and write them down. If you have weekly meetings or announcements, be clear what digital platforms facilitate these from now on. Again, be clear in communicating changes and allow people to develop personal ways to use the tools. You can of course keep physical meetings but consider creating ways to attend digitally.
5. Allocate time for training and practice.
Learning new ways of working takes time, as is with any new skills. Digital leadership methods are not an exception. Gather proper resources for self-learning and allocate time for going through them or organize training sessions with hands on doing. You can motivate people with friendly competition using gamification and reward progress people are making.
6. Measure, measure, measure.
Digital transformation is a visible and iterative process. Digital processes create a lot of data, footprints of a sort, from different activities. You are suddenly faced with a huge amount of data at your disposal. This is extremely valuable to provide insight into the progress from day one. Take the data as an opportunity to reinforce learning and ensure alignment through digital transformation. Find out what is working and what isn’t, to assign more resources to demanding areas. Highlight also the successes to keep mood and motivation up.
7. Remember that results are not instant.
Don’t rush it! Successful implementation of new ways to work take time. A clear transition period gives people time to adjust. Phase out outdated tools and processes gradually and explain how they are replaced in the new way of working. Remember to allow plenty of opportunities for feedback to make the process approachable. Accept, that the change isn’t instant, and the benefits might take time. Be patient, the pot of gold awaits in the end.
Bonus: Create informal channels and interaction as well.
With digital leadership, one aspect of normal working life is sure to take a hit – random encounters at the “water coolers”, and other spontaneous interaction between employees. It can be challenging to form routines, which actively encourage people to get to know their co-workers when they might be working all over the globe. Facilitating off-topic channels for relaxing communication and organizing virtual coffee rooms or coffee breaks with voluntary participation creates spaces for informal communication. Friendly relations with co-workers create a more cohesive and empathetic organization, with a feeling of belonging.
Remember, that no two organizations are alike, so this is a journey you must take yourself. But you don’t need to do it alone. We would love to guide you on the exciting path towards digital leadership.