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Academy Xi Blog

Overriding ‘business as usual’ thinking

By Academy Xi

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Managers are constantly on the lookout for ways to drive more thoughtful decisions, increase collaboration and achieve better results for their team. Good leaders understand that success can’t be attributed to one person. Instead, high-quality, valuable output is the result of a collaborative culture. In strong teams, foundational skills exist across all members – that is, a shared language, set of practices, tools and mindset.

How can managers proactively provide their teams with these kinds of foundational capabilities? What kinds of skills are going to keep them ahead of the curve and their competitors?

Digital: Keeping up with the pace of change

One of the biggest changes sweeping through organisations and teams right now is digital transformation. In the wake of organisation-wide digital change, managers are faced with ensuring that their team isn’t left behind. Digital Imposter Syndrome’ is real. Members of your team will undoubtedly be feeling it (but may not be confident enough to raise their hand and call it out). Standing still as a team or business can give competitors the upper hand. It is important that your staff are advancing, which will ensure you remain competitive.

So why doesn’t deploying new technology alone result in gains to efficiency, productivity, engagement and worker happiness? The answer is simple: it isn’t about the technology. The true benefits of advanced technologies can only be realised if we know how to use them to their fullest potential. We often call this “digital literacy.”

What can managers do to help their team up their digital game?

  • Instill a culture where you don’t expect your team to become digital masters, but you do expect them to be able to have a conversation with one
  • Give them the tools they need to make better digital decisions
  • Invite them to participate in the digital roadmap for your team
  • Equip them with practical skills to engage meaningfully in digital projects

Data: Making better business decisions

Data” as a concept can feel intimidating. It can leave those who do not understand it feeling like they cannot understand it. Although this might sound silly, this is a serious business constraint as it is at odds with the value businesses are placing on data. Companies are investing in data like they invest in physical assets, IP, and real estate. When demystifying data feels like a challenge too great, teams run the risk of falling behind and basing decisions on assumptions and gut-feel.

The aim is to make your team comfortable enough with data in order to better inform your decision-making processes. Your team is unlikely to go on to become data scientists or statisticians – but that is fine. Data literacy is the goal.

What can managers do to help their team up their data game?

  • Provide the tools required to foster a culture of data-driven storytelling and decision-making
  • Give them the training they need to be able to interpret, pull insights from and use data to make smarter business decisions
  • Illustrate the importance of data and the role it plays in the broader team and organisational context 

Design: Going beyond the status quo

Human-Centred Design and Design Thinking are tried and tested approaches to unleashing dormant creativity. Simply put, they are both mindsets. They boil down to the idea that we should always make products, services and processes with the end user’s needs in mind. Customer-centricity is a close cousin and shares a lot of similarities with these two design approaches.

How might leaders take a design-led approach to rethinking how they engage their customers, employees and partners? They might start with better understanding the needs of their stakeholders. Through this process, they might realise that a new offering may be better suited to the needs of their customer. New business models may be brought to light. It is all about shedding old assumptions in order to bring about any number of ways to innovate.

What can managers do to help their team up their design game?

  • Give your team permission to explore new areas by removing existing ‘business as usual’ beliefs
  • Train them with practical skills they need to systemise innovation (empathy, willingness to challenge the status quo, space to fail)
  • Kick-start a culture of continuous learning by defining a shared language around design, innovation and creativity

Insanity is often described as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” 

High-performing teams engage in continuous learning. Their leaders acknowledge existing skills gaps and proactively set about plugging them. These teams also ‘speak the same language’. They harness a collective mindset and toolkit to solve complex business problems. 

As Forbes points out, it’s things like problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation that are important right now. These are the skills that modern leaders need to foster in their teams in order to achieve success.

Feel like your team could use some help in overriding BAU thinking?

We have training solutions to help managers shift the way that their teams work at every stage of their journey: introductory courses, deeper-dive upskilling workshops through to bespoke programs co-designed to address specific needs. Reach out to discuss your training needs with us.

Academy Xi Blog

Digital Transformation. It’s as much about your people as it is your tech.

By Academy Xi

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“By 2025, the average worker will need to learn 7 new digital skills.” (Source)

In terms of the way we work, the rate of change has undeniably sped up thanks to COVID. Where digital disruption was likely, it is now inevitable for most businesses. If 2020 gave us all a massive push toward digital transformation, 2021 is about continuing the forward momentum. 

The backdrop for learning and development has never been more dramatic. To capture the full potential of digital technologies, businesses are going to need to invest in the training and development of their people.

Keep reading for our take on:

  • How ‘digital imposter syndrome’ and a siloed workplace can hamper digital transformation efforts
  • Why incentivising ‘digital-first’ decision making will galvanise your digital transformation
  • What does successful digital upskilling and training look like
  • How to take your people on the digital transformation journey, step by step

 

Preparedness = people + tech

Most companies are now opting for a ‘digital-first’ mindset as they acknowledge the central role technology now plays to their success. What is a digital-first mindset? Simply put, it means recognising any new opportunity or problem is going to need to be solved as digitally as possible. When done right, it helps to increase efficiency, scale and find new ways to appeal to customers. However, these benefits fall flat when they are not paired with the right learning and development. As Forbes concisely stated, “digital-first business demands a people-first mindset”. Fostering a sustainable digital workforce trumps the implementation of any single technology.

A study from MIT concluded that businesses that invest in digital skills training for their people tend to outperform their competitors. They showed an average of 19% more growth and were 15% more profitable.

As core technologies become increasingly available, differentiation won’t come in the form of the technology itself. Instead, the key factor for success will be around the success of adoption. How well can your people adapt to take advantage of the new opportunities the technology affords. Unsurprisingly, this is all about upskilling for the individual within the broader context of learning and development for the organisation.

 

Taking your people on the Digital Transformation journey

As a leader, when you are planning for digital transformation, it is crucial to consider the people that are going to bring it to life. People make technology useful. If you have broad-scale, organisation-wide transformation in your plans, giving your people the right tools and mindsets to provide them with the confidence to enable its successful realisation.

  1. Demystify digital. It is often assumed that your people understand the people, systems and processes that make up your digital ecosystem. By laying out how the different parts of your digital business interrelate, you are training your people in an area that can provoke anxiety for many. 
  2. Help your people shed ‘digital imposter syndrome’. Like anything new, technology can be intimidating. To increase new technology adoption and confidence, it is going to take an investment in training and development. Without this, you run the risk of resistance and people finding workarounds. 
  3. Develop a shared language around digital. A shared, common language provides clarity around goals and ensures a common understanding. This is about laying a sound platform for your people to work and collaborate confidently in your ‘new normal’. This will also help drive new technology adoption and increase productivity.
  4. Encourage and incentivise ‘digital-first’ decision making. A digital-first company not only uses technology in innovative ways but also creates a culture, structure and processes to support broader digital uplift. Combine this with a culture of design-thinking and you’ve got a winning combination. Read how brands like Uber, AirBNB, Pepsi, and GE innovate using Design Thinking.
  5. Make tech not just the exclusive domain of your development and tech teams. What we’ve found is that when more people understand the why behind technological change, they are quicker to adopt it. Not everyone needs to be an expert. Even having a baseline level of knowledge can be helpful when needing to work with seemingly complex technology like software for example.
  6. Cultivate an agile talent pool. This is easier said than done but worthy of real, ongoing attention. The more agile your people are, the better your business can constantly reshape itself to address new market challenges, offer new products and services, and fend off competition. 
  7. Appreciate employee differences and provide support. Addressing employees’ differing workplace expectations based on their digital fluency can be extremely challenging. Gen Y and Baby Boomers are likely to find a ‘digital first’ mindset more of a stretch than Millennials and Gen Z. 
  8. Be prepared for a period of adjustment. When it comes to digital transformation, there is often a honeymoon period within organisations. Employees feel buoyed by the promise of a better way of doing things. This is often naturally followed by culture shock when people realize how much they don’t know, then adjustment, and then mastery. 

The benefits for those businesses that execute their digital transformation strategies are going to be profound. Namely, capture the potential of digital technologies and ensure their people are along for the journey. But to do this, continued interest and investment in training and development is required. To capitalize on the opportunity of digital, companies need to adopt a people-first approach to business.

 

Need help with digital transformation in your organisation?

Check out our suite of courses in disciplines such as Customer-Centricity, Data Capability, Digital Literacy and more. Download a course guide and contact us.

Need more proof that investing in your people is a strong strategy at any point along your digital transformation journey? Check out our latest blog “5 Reasons To Invest in Upskilling”.