Last week we started the series of blogs focusing on digital transformation and laid the groundwork. Digital transformation only enhances your organisations’ capabilities, and that it won’t solve underlying problems. For example, imagine you want to run a marathon. However, in order to do so, you need to train for it. And to be able to train for it, you need to be free of injuries. So, if you’re nursing an injury and still want to train for a marathon, you need to first focus on recovering from the injury before starting your training.
We touched on the fact that alignment of people, culture and processes is crucial for digital transformation to be successful. Today let’s look at the people factor.
Everything starts and ends with people. You need the right people for the job. We’re referring to people across the entire value-chain; in-house, upstream and downstream. Some of this you can control, but some, you can’t. People need to have an intrinsic desire and motivation to grow. People need to have aspiration. When we say right people, we’re not saying that people are defective. We mean the people need to have a level of willingness and abilities. People need a challenge and recognition for the good work and contributions they make. What you need is people who are not afraid that problems are surfacing, and people who are willing to put their heads together to solve these problems. What is not acceptable is problems being swept under the carpet and the parcel being passed around.
You don’t necessarily need people with the right technical skills, to begin with. Start with the right attitude, a keenness to learn, a desire to grow, willingness to get into the heart of problems and finding ways to solve them. They don’t have to come up with the right solution straightaway. Simply recognising that there is a problem and it can have dire consequences if not tackled early on, will do. The actual ability to tackle the problems and collaboratively solve these problems will come as part of their learning, training, and experience.
So, with regards to people, what exactly are we talking about? Let us explore three valuable traits.
Resilience: Resilience is defined as the ability to recover quickly from setbacks or difficulties. Let us face it, the world today is a much tougher place than it was perhaps 20 or 30 years ago. There are even more ways to fail than to succeed. Putting the definition of resilience alongside the state of affairs in the world today, resilience can be redefined as the ability to discover the ways in which to succeed in whatever one chooses to accomplish. It is not the same thing as stubbornness. Stubbornness is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting something different to happen. Resilience builds when we learn to accept failure, understand that it is ok to fail, learn from our failures and try new things out until we succeed (a bit like Edison).
Critical Thinking: Simply put, critical thinking is the ability to look at a given situation from multiple perspectives, some of which often conflict with our own internal biases. The good news is, with practice, one can get good at it. How does one develop critical thinking and become good at it then? A good place to start is looking at the problem and how it affects other people not just oneself. The ability to focus on a problem, combined with the empathy to understand how and why if affects the people is essential. When I say people, it’s not about passing blame or pointing fingers. It is about acknowledging that there is an impact on people and then minimising the bad and maximising the good. Critical thinking is essential to effectively solve problems, the next skill on this list.
Problem Solving: As the phrase suggests, there are again, two stages to it; the problem stage and the solving stage. The first stage is getting to the root cause of problems. Only with perseverance, inquisitiveness and willingness to ask questions, is getting to the root cause of problems possible. These are again variants on the resilience theme, in-fact these are some of the behaviours that resilient people often display. Once the root cause of problems has been identified, then comes the phase of solving the problem, or finding the solution. The behaviours required to be able to effectively solve problems with consistency and efficiency are the same behaviours required to identify the real problems.
Solving problems will indeed require technical ability and skills. However, if your people have already displayed qualities like resilience, critical thinking, a willingness to collaborate and recognise problems, it means they will pick up all the necessary technical and on the job skills easier than most others and become better solvers of problems!
Get in touch with us, we know a thing or two about this and can help you implement this effectively.