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Adopt a clear PROCESS

Written by : Lori Figueiredo on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Every day, as a leader you are “designing learning experiences” – for yourself and your teams.  It’s likely unconscious and it should become conscious as it is a core aspect of being human and achieving breakthroughs – since every day, life is our classroom. 

Most importantly the way you work AND LEARN with your ecosystem of stakeholders influences the way they operate in the way you engage with them. In addition, you are role modelling your behaviours or habits as a learner. 

Every moment of the day you demonstrate how you respond to change – whether you are adaptive and constantly learning, reflecting and improving or whether you are stuck, inflexible and not adaptive at all. Take note, active learning is a future skill identified as critical by the World Economic Forum.

As we know what got you here, won’t get you there which was made famous by the book of the same name by Marshall Goldsmith. 

Yet when uncovering the status quo and the future path ahead, in many leading organisations, leaders expect organizational change and behaviour change as well as different results from their teams. 

Yet they themselves are still behaving and measuring KPIs which directly block the innovation, agility and adaptability required to create the changes expected.  

On the other hand we have worked with legendary leaders who are at every level – strategic, tactical and even at a personal level – are leading the way as active and agile learners.  

When a CEO managing a

billion-dollar organization was consuming new content, applying the new content immediately and then constantly sharing his own formal and informal insights gained daily – everyone in the organization followed his example.

In this organization, you could feel the alignment, you could feel SYZYGY and breakthroughs in performance happened daily! He, furthermore, was well prepared to be involved in the organizational enablers that support agile teams, as he himself was agile.  

He guided the selection of the learntech platforms we explored to enable digital learning. He himself was involved in social and action learning with his peers and subordinates as a daily and conscious habit.  Because of this “operating or engagement model” his people were fully aligned with his strategic priorities and the shared purpose was clearly evident – as depicted in the visual.
Diagram

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Therefore, for leaders and teams to work AND LEARN together in a way that is agile, the leaders of any organization, community or ecosystem need to adopt a clear process.  

What we mean by that is – as a daily habit – to consciously combine the 3 ways we learn naturally towards achieving the pre-defined change or clear PURPOSE

  • Learn key content = Education = LEARN IT!
  • Learn by doing = Experience = APPLY IT!
  • Learn with/from others = Exposure = REVIEW IT!

Let’s use a BIG example, let’s explore the end-to-end professional development journey as a private banker from new hire to being a leader OR a small example, constantly improving how the frontline ensures customers feel welcomed as they enter the store, bank, restaurant or hotel.

For both examples when we are highly effective, we would naturally break up a huge, or tiny, body of knowledge into small independent and discrete units.  This natural phenomenon has been labelled microlearning.  

For both examples high performing individuals and teams would pre-define the PURPOSE to ensure IMPACT.  

As anyone navigating change and their own learning journey, for every microlearning unit, using our PURPOSE, we would have defined what each Learner or group of Learners needs to ACHIEVE (results), DO (behaviours) and LEARN (knowledge, skills and attitudes). 

Whether you are the head of learning or the head of Private Banking enabling thousands of private bankers or a private bank navigating your own development, creating this role clarity is critical.

Now the PROCESS for the consumer of the learning, we go in the opposite direction. We first LEARN the critical knowledge, skills and attitudes through Education. 

Then we immediately APPLY the learning by doing which involves learning through Experience. In addition we REVIEW what we are learning when we exchange, discuss, get coaching, get inputs from others and this has been labelled “Exposure” as part of the highly researched and documented 3Es.

Diagram

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Therefore, to create a clear PROCESS, we start by breaking down the learning into bite-size chunks with every microlearning unit being made up of LEARN-APPLY-REVIEW.  

Let’s think of these units each as an engaging and meaningful learning experience. Thereafter these series of experiences are strung together into learning journeys.  

Finally at an organizational level, many such learning journeys roll up to define the organizational learning strategy. Note that typical organizational strategies when deployed range from including fully end-to-end structured journeys to more dynamic journeys where agile practices are adopted as daily habits.

This visual shows an example of a mobile learning app where the PURPOSE and PROCESS where embedding in to design and navigation of the end-to-end learning journey to enable the required behaviours and results.

From an organisational perspective, we recommend starting with the big picture using the 5P framework to set the overarching learning strategy. Then prototyping specific learning journeys to test and improve the strategy. Over time the specific way of working and learning together for a positive impact is embedded in the culture of the organization.

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HR Tech

Embed clear PRINCIPLES

Written by : Lori Figueiredo on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

As we are shaping how we work AND LEARN together with our ecosystem of Stakeholders, a clear set of “rules of engagement” or team rules are needed. This is usually assumed that people are on the same page and not discussed. 

This may lead to miscommunication, disagreements and stress as there are likely to be different expectations and/or ways of operating.  

Being an agile team that is open to learn, adapt and improve as a daily habit, takes some emotional maturity and adaptability amongst all the team members.

Though a very simple practice or tool, which is to agree on how the team will work and learn together is a basic fundamental which will increase the chances of success as a group. 

This is especially true when we bring together a wide variety of Stakeholders from different backgrounds, professions, areas of expertise and functions.

Again, begin with the end in mind – take a moment to imagine NEW possibilities. Imagine creating a safe space that allows you and your various Stakeholders to deliver value to the organization, to each other and to the end customer.

You need to be conscious of your set of conscious AND unconscious assumptions about the possible challenges or areas of friction across the set of individuals in the team.  

Let’s explore this a bit more deeply. Our assumptions and thoughts determine our behaviours and results.  

We each have certain thinking habits which are patterns we keep repeating. These are the “anchors” which influence our view of the world and the way we interact in the world.  These patterns are called our mindset which is based on our past and present experiences (learning and conditioning). 

Thinking about our own thinking raises our level of self-awareness. This activity is called Metacognition.  

It is a powerful habit to develop. If we are not aware of our mental pictures, we can limit our own success. To help us become more aware, we need to take time out to become conscious of our assumptions and thinking patterns.  

A belief is a thought we keep thinking. We can have self-limiting beliefs which block us from progressing. We also have empowering beliefs which enable us to achieve great things and breakthroughs.  

To create safe spaces to imagine and create new possibilities while collaborating with others, required conscious positive thinking which will help you develop yourself, your ecosystem as well as improve your collective performance to achieve positive change.

Agreeing on the rules or principles will determine how effective you work and learn together in achieving a positive impact. You may also agree on the forums and the frequency you will use to meet and connect. 

Raise and discuss the possible obstacles you may have and ways you can minimize them – from the outset. Finally keep checking in to ensure you are adopting these rules as you go about your day or adapt them – if new ones are required. 

Examples of rules could be that “we will…be positive, be open to new ideas and to think out loud as a way to share and generate more ideas”.  

Below is one of the rules we have adopted in our Team…whatever we do we must deliver value and have a positive IMPACT.  Or if not possible, we would rather do nothing!

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HR Tech

Define the shared PURPOSE

Written by : Lori Figueiredo on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

External rewards, such as fair pay, only AVOID dissatisfaction.  

External rewards are NOT the most critical motivators.  

Internal rewards are the most critical motivators. Striving towards a PURPOSE that is meaningful to you – is a powerful internal reward.  It may include enjoying what you are doing and experiencing personal growth.  

Even more powerful than this, is when we have a shared PURPOSE with those whom we respect and connect with.  The larger common purpose we co-create with others is usually:

  • aligned to our own personal purpose
  • inspirational and uplifting so we connect to it emotionally and deeply
  • aspirational as a breakthrough which goes beyond our current achievements

Based on these findings, we formulated the SYZYGY® PURPOSE. It is a tool to envisage and define your direction, value and roles of your ecosystem of Stakeholders.  As we get clear on who are the right PEOPLE, co-creating a shared PURPOSE is the next habit.  

A pre-defined PURPOSE ensures you target, track and measure the required IMPACT! We always need to begin with this end (shared PURPOSE) in mind to anchor, motivate and inspire ourselves and others. 

Think about…? Do you have a clear picture of the impact of your efforts and activities on your organization and people?

How might you pre-define a shared PURPOSE as you engage your ecosystem of Stakeholders?

With your Stakeholders you discuss and define the broader purpose which is your collective value to the organization and/or larger community:

  • Your breakthrough goals with concrete measurable indicators
  • Your strategy which is simply your approach or plan to get there

Then you discuss and define the roles. This means you define and communicate what each Stakeholder group needs to:

  • ACHIEVE = results
  • DO = behaviours
  • LEARN = knowledge, skills and attitudes

When you breakdown performance into very simple, clear and measurable terms, the desired IMPACT on organization performance and people performance becomes very clear. 

This role clarity empowers and aligns each Stakeholder group to take targeted, critical and meaningful action. Once all your Stakeholders understand and are aligned to your breakthrough goals and strategy – this state of alignment is called SYZYGY. When aligned, with less effort we achieve greater results.

For example, while working, learning, and empowering people to improve their performance – we found it worked best when those involved imagined their own shared purpose.

In addition, we found when there is alignment, all the Stakeholders within the ecosystem share information and insights up and down the value chain every day. All those involved can then use this feedback loop to continuously improve what they LEARN and DO to ACHIEVE their shared PURPOSE.   

Pre-defining and then targeting to impact the desired performance outcomes is one of the most critical advantages of using the SYZYGY® methodology. Let’s move onto the other 3 of the 5P framework…

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HR Tech

Engage the right PEOPLE

Written by : Lori Figueiredo on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

During this time of rapid change, Leaders need to slow down to speed up. Leaders that succeed, tune out the noise and stay connected closely to their people – their ecosystem of stakeholders. This is their community or what we might call their modern day “tribe”.

They appreciate that we are more successful when we work together with others. Of course, we can be successful on our own. However, we learn and achieve more when collaborating with others.  Engaging a broader group ensures your efforts are supported by all those directly and indirectly involved (versus your efforts being hijacked by others). They can all play a positive role in your journey.

In addition, the value of collaboration is that it allows you to tap into a larger pool of expertise and diversity of ideas.  Even our critics – who challenge ideas, actions and assumptions – prove to be very valuable. However, it requires that they are engaged and aligned to the shared purpose.  

In any change, strategy or solution design and implementation, think PEOPLE first!  

Leaders of positive change, begin by identifying the ecosystem of people most critical to their success. They consider the OUTSIDE-IN view, from the external customers’ lens. 

They also consider the INSIDE-OUT view, those up and down the value chain who need to be engaged and involved.

For example, from a popular restaurant brand to a leading international bank, the Leaders and Teams mapped all the Stakeholders along a value chain aligned to their strategic direction.

They recognised they were unsuccessful when they ONLY engaged the frontline using classroom training at an individual level. Instead, change occurred rapidly when they switched to engaging with the Frontline in their Teams, in their workplace context and together with all their critical stakeholders.

In addition, we found such Leaders are curious about understanding basic human psychology. We found successful leaders believe in 3 key human principles.  They assume people have:

  • an innate wisdom
  • a natural ability to learn
  • a need for belonging, connection and shared purpose

Furthermore, such Leaders create safe spaces where, together with their Teams, their way of working is:

  • agile – learning and adapting daily
  • human centred – focusing on the value and IMPACT on people and our planet
  • led by a shared purpose – co-creating goals

Most important to emphasise… no matter in which field you are, there WILL be some form of technology involved as an enabler. However, leaders of positive change do NOT craft any strategy or solution – leading with technology

Instead they shift left, away from defining the technology solution. Instead they start with discovering who are all the PEOPLE (and then PURPOSE – next article) involved.  This ecosystem is engaged to discover the real problems and opportunities to be addressed for positive change.

         

Leading with PEOPLE and aligning the 5Ps is part of a journey from OLD to NEW Island thinking. When we BEGIN with right PEOPLE and align them to a shared PURPOSE, the magic happens!  
When alignment is attained; breakthroughs are achieved.  We call this state of alignment – SYZYGY.

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Strengthening EM/PM partnership is the key to success in a software shop

Written by : Shyvee Shi on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

📍 What does a PM (Product Manager) do?


PMs articulate the WHY through strategy, define the WHAT through prioritization, and play a supporting role for the HOW. 

📍 What does an EM (Engineering Manager) do?


EMs work with their teams to figure out HOW the product should be built (e.g., tech stack, frameworks, and architecture, etc.), WHO builds it and WHEN it will ship.

🔑 What are the expectations of an EM in a Tech organisation?

▪️ Active involvement in product brainstorming
▪️ Highlight technical complexity of a solution
▪️ Drive technical execution and decisions
▪️ Empathy for user and business needs
▪️ Manage sprint planning + retro
▪️ Embrace big picture thinking
▪️ Assume positive intent 

In a software shop, many roles cross paths on a daily basis but not more than the Engineering Manager (EM)’s and the Product Manager (PM)’s path.

🤝 This partnership is the one that not only ensures successful delivery of software but also things like motivation, transparency, alignment, prioritization, innovation and everything in between.

Starting from exploring the importance of this partnership, to setting the right expectations and sharing best practices. 


Here are five tips to strengthen the partnership: 👇

1 Build a relationship


This is one of the most critical relationships you will ever have at work. And just like any other relationship, you get what you give. Do not leave it up to chance. Get to know each other, understand each other’s goals, priorities, communication preferences, working style, etc. Schedule regular sync-up meetings and invest the time to deepen the relationship. 

2 Get on the same page


Make sure you represent a united front and be the cheerleaders for the team. There is nothing worse than a conflicting set of priorities for a team and ensuring that doesn’t happen starts with you two.


3 Assume Positive Intent (API)


The heading says it all. It’s busy, there is a lot going on at all times. There are many communication channels and oftentimes you end up doing or saying something that the other person doesn’t agree with. It’s okay. Assume positive intent. Reach out, verify, and reassure the trust.

4 Communicate early and frequently

This one cannot be emphasized enough. There should be a direct line of communication between the EM and the PM. Share even if you think it’s something trivial. Share your concerns, ideas, progress, feedback, and any other developing stories necessary. 

5 Shorten the feedback loop

 

🤝 The HOW part is a collaboration as both sides need input from each other to choose the optimal solution.

Most searched question

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HR Tech Digi Tech

TODAY’S WORK ENVIRONMENT AND DELICACY OF TECHNOLOGY 

Written by: Shubhra Aggarwal on  Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

“Our future success is directly proportional to our ability to understand, adopt and integrate new technology into our work”- Sukant Ratnakar

Workplace technology is growing exponentially. From the industrial age to current day, technology has changed manifolds. Not only has it helped in increasing productivity, it has also made “Work from anywhere” super easy and a reality.

Due to modern interpersonal communication technology, employees communicate more clearly and that’s leading to better results.

The onset of the global pandemic reshuffled the world of work. Businesses digitized themselves and shifted to working remotely overnight, all thanks to technology. With flexible workforces and mass adoption of remote and hybrid work models, many untapped talents are now shining bright. With talent not being restricted by geographical boundaries, both employers and employees are participating in the “Gig Economy.” Moving on an exponential growth trajectory, the gig economy workforce is projected to increase 3X from 7.7 million in 2021 to 23.5 million in 2030.

With every pros, comes the cons and the same is true for technology.

From separating employees by screens creating miscommunications, to the world of automated voicemails that can make customers upset, many believe that “Old is Gold.”

At the same time, with greater flexibility due to Work from Home or freelancing in the gig economy, people are often working overtime, over the weekend and even while sick. This has disbalanced the “Work life balance” and has mentally affected many people. From burnout, insomnia to depression, all have risen with more stress.

According to Technology and Innovation Report 2021, every spurt of progress has been associated with sharper inequality between countries. New technologies can have severe downsides if they outpace a society’s ability to adapt. To benefit from frontier technologies, countries need to promote their use, adoption, and adaptation, while addressing their potential adverse effects. 

Moreover, International cooperation should: 

Build stronger national capacities in STI,

Smooth technology transfer,

Increase women’s participation,

Improve foresight and technological assessment and promote inclusivity.

Moreover, Policymakers should direct technological change towards meeting societal needs and reducing inequalities; developing countries should adopt frontier technologies while continuing to diversify their production bases by mastering existing technologies; social protection systems should be strengthened to provide safety nets to workers who may lose their livelihoods.

Everything is a boon and a brain, it depends on us how to take it. To make technology a boon, effective communication, connectivity, being flexible but not insensible is the key! We must master the art of balancing our work and our life, otherwise we might not enjoy the super delicacy that the technology provides!

Most searched question

What role does technology play in today’s workforce?

What are the 10 advantages of technology?

What are the effects of technology on employees?

Most searched queries  

Impact of technology on organizations

Beneficial and ill effects of technology in work

Negative impact of technology in the workplace

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As we digitize, we need to humanize

Written by : Lori Figueiredo on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Co-create learning that has strategic impact, scalable reach and sustainable deployment

Ongoing waves of next generation technology…

As a learning strategist, I have been an early adopter throughout several waves of “next generation technology”.  In various forms, technology has always been and continues to be a very powerful enabler of learning.  This happens only when it is used as an integrated part of a learning strategy targeted to achieve pre-defined and measurable positive impact on performance (of the people and organisation).  

 

Recurring patterns 

I found the patterns and the simple rules within this complex world of people, performance and purpose, while working and learning globally with a diverse range of organisations from corporates, NGOs, governments, educational institutions to start-ups.

As technology evolves, some things remain the same…
The range of ways, in which humans react to any new technology, remain the same.  How we learn, how our brains work and the psychology of learning, remains the same. 

The paradox…

What has truly expanded is that we have more and more diverse, innovative, and impactful ways of how organisations could be enabling learning.  In addition, the pace, complexity and volume of what needs to be learned and unlearned has increased.  

Yet many organisations are still on the old island taking lecture-based classroom “training” &/or existing course content, which was not impactful in the first place and turning it into AI powered digital courses, virtual classrooms &/or even virtual reality experiences.

Formally support formal and informal learning

Let’s go back to the basics.  As a lifelong observer of people, I believe we have a natural capacity to learn, an innate wisdom as well as a need for connection and shared purpose.

Therefore learning works (i.e. has an impact on capabilities, behaviours and results) when we formally support both formal and informal learning.  Learning works when we respect our fellow human beings.  Learning works when we innovate with integrity leveraging the best in human psychology and the latest in technologyAs we digitise, we need to humanise.

Enabling the 3 ways we learn naturally

There are 3 ways we learn naturally.  In addition to this being based on research, take a moment to reflect on your own natural habits every day.  These include leveraging a combination of:

    • Digital Learning = Education via content available 24×7

    • Action Learning = Experiences to apply the learning while working

    • Social Learning = Exposure to learn from/with others

Organisations can therefore formally support learning as a daily habit by enabling a clear PROCESS which combines the 3 ways we learn.

Life is our classroom

Furthermore, every minute of the day we are presented with learning opportunities.  The millions of dollars invested in low-impact, high-cost learning solutions is a crime and defies basic common sense.  

It costs very little for any organisation to enable ongoing learning as a daily habit. It costs very little for the teams doing the real work, for example, to use their iphone cameras &/or basic PowerPoint to capture and share their tacit knowledge (Digital Learning).  

You do NOT need to do contrived role plays and irrelevant activities in a classroom when it costs very little to consciously apply what has been learned in the workplace (Action Learning).

In conjunction with the above, it costs and takes very little to reflect on and discuss with each other, experts, practitioners, coaches &/or mentors what has been achieved and what can be improved (Social Learning).

Observing and learning with high performing teams and organisations, I found 5Ps are always in place and aligned.  When we get the right PEOPLE together and support them to co-create a shared PURPOSE.  Thereafter, we put in place clear PROCESSES and the right PLATFORMS (online and offline) using clear guiding PRINCIPLES.  This creates a safe space that enables people to learn, adapt and improve as a daily habit.  

We found this applies irrespective of whether you are working with and upskilling underprivileged youth in the rural areas, private bankers in the big cities, operators in a factory, leaders in a board room or the frontliners of a popular restaurant brand.  

Technology amplifies, aggregates, increases accessibility and more…

What we are highlighting is that high performing organisations and teams create safe spaces to learn, adapt and improve every day.  They fail fast and learn faster.  Many call these agile teams and draw from the practices part of the agile approach, innovation and human centred design.  I draw on these and practices from development and cognitive psychology.

Whatever our source, how we learn and evolve as a human race from prehistoric times to today and in future, there is nothing that is completely new.  (Wall art and papyrus scrolls was the ancient form of technology (= makes things easier) and their form of digital learning available 24×7).

What continues to evolve is that technology takes what we do, accelerates and amplifies our efforts in ways that are even more scalable and sustainable.  For example, a great speaker can create and instantly broadcast a relevant and meaningful message company-wide to thousands of people in a few minutes using a live video.  

Technology allows us to aggregate, integrate and increase accessibility by bringing all the learning resources via an integrated or single front-end platform – from content, people to experiences.

Technology allows us to use AI such as sourcing very widely and then in seconds recommending relevant learning resources based on the Learner’s profile, needs and interests. 

Technology is allowing us to distribute, consume, exchange and track learning and its impact on results using web2 such as learning experience platforms and now web3 technology such as the blockchain, NFTs and virtual reality spaces

Design for impact; Don’t lead with technology

Yet as we leverage technology as an enabler of learning, the entire strategy must be designed for impact.  We must not lead with technology.  The technology as an enabler comes last in the design process.  We can also reverse engineer and then iterate the original design as we learn more about new ways technology can be used.  

We must design the end-to-end experience focusing on the human elements, human experience and impact. 

Digital learning using learning technology as a standalone, without the human element in the real-life context, will not impact performance.  It will not impact a change in our behaviours and results.

In addition to this – why learning technology is deployed and what capabilities it develops must consider human or soft skills.  Soft skills have never been more important.  Human intelligence combined with artificial intelligence is still the best combination.  For this and many other reasons, developing our empathy, resilience, problem solving and communication skill sets and mindset, as examples, remain as critical future skills as the hard technical skills of any role.
If we innovate with integrity leveraging the best in human psychology and the latest in technology – as we digitise in business, society and learning, we will remain human-centred.

Most searched queries

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How technology affects the work environment today?

Written by Shweta Rautela on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

In the prevailing scenario, Technology has perpetually converted the way people across industries do their work.

From the past two decades digital evolution has improved working conditions immensely. It has augmented productivity and made working from anywhere accessible.

I am going to shed light to some of the upsides and downsides I have witnessed with the emerging technology trends.

⏩ Team Collaboration made easier:

Thanks to the virtual communication tools, it allows us to work more closely even as we work remotely. Team collaborations have been simplified. People don’t have to be present physically at the same place.

Video conferencing, meeting remotely and working on the same stuff at once with cloud based file sharing has made our life easier.

Automated follow-ups and customer service using AI messaging has outperformed the heavy lifting.

⏩ No longer need to stay at the Workplace:

Major impact of digital evolution in the workplace is the workplace itself. Majority of workplaces still ask you to work on-site, there are plenty of positions open to work remotely all over the country.

Advancements in global job hunts have given wings to our fulfillments and outlived the restrictions to our capabilities. We can freelance from anywhere. Organizations can hire potential candidates half a world away.

⏩ Efficiency and Incessant Speed:

Technology is the real boost. Employees have become systematically structured than ever before. What used to be a cumbersome tiring process is now done in seconds. Messages can be sent instantly to colleagues and clients across the world. Payments, billings and proposals can be taken care off immediately.

🚫 Some of the downsides include anxiety due to increased working hours. If you work from home it may feel like you are never out of the office. Flashing, pinging constantly draw Employees back to their jobs.

The learning curve to implement new methodologies separating employees by screens leads to miscommunication. Being glued to systems disrupts people and automated voicemails sometimes can make clients upset.

In a nutshell, technology in the office environment has encouraged productive habits. Organizations with advanced approaches may consider the gains in efficiency from technology as a reason to slow down as opposed to rushing the process. 

I hope employees one day will get notified to take a break instead of handling more work related demands.

 

Most searched question

What role does technology play in today’s workforce?

What are the 10 advantages of technology?

What are the effects of technology on employees?

Most searched queries  

Impact of technology on organizations

Beneficial and ill effects of technology in work

Negative impact of technology in the workplace


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The overwhelmed leadership of transformation

 Written by – Mar Vin FOO on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

As we venture into an era where the old ways of industries and new ways of technology converge rapidly to disrupt what we are used to, leaders are often thrust into situations where their people want both. 

Digital transformation, sustainability, and climate change overwhelm leaders who have to deal with disruptions to businesses from new entrants; demand for corporate responsibility, in addition to their usual functions with shortening boom and bust business cycles. The average lifespan of a company has decreased from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today. Blockbuster, a popular movie rental business in the United States of America (USA) lasted only 25 years from 1985 to 2010. 

The ability to adapt is so crucial and leaders are overwhelmed to undertake the digital transformation of various departments beyond corporate Information Technology (IT) and into their business operations to survive. In this article, I’m going to share the factors contributing to transformational success, extraordinary leadership that takes immense courage to defy organisation cultural norms and business landscapes, and new technology tools that can bridge the automation, sustainability and security divide from reducing carbon footprint; escalating costs; to manpower and digital talent crunch. For the leaders who are championing workload modernisation for their sprawling legacy footprint, fret not because this will be covered towards the end of the article.

Factors for transformational success

Success isn’t always a mutually exclusive situation but rather a mutually inclusive decision that requires a knack for understanding the market trends, the organisation or society’s cultural conditions, the availability and maturity of the tools, and the readiness to change. 

 digital leadership technology

In Singapore, Parking.sg is a successful mobile application eliminating car parking coupons that need to be printed, perforated, inventoried, distributed, utilised and inspected. Not many are aware that there was a similar attempt to eliminate parking coupons using mobile phones when short messaging systems, SMS, were all the rage in the early 2000s before the advent of smartphones a decade later.

The maturity of mobile phones in its smartness was limited in the early 2000s with costly SMSes. A coupon-less SMS mobile solution would have been ahead of its time with limited success because the ease of use was lacking in comparison to the graphical user interfaces in today’s mobile phones.

Timing plays an important role because the effectiveness of a solution depends on it.

Today’s leaders are challenged especially in an era where it takes courage to break away from the norm, and when previous attempts at technological innovations or transformations did not succeed, making it tough to start a new attempt.

Our comforts of today come from extraordinary leadership

Steven was a former Economic Development Board (EDB) scholar who brought multiplex cinemas within a single location concept or cineplex into Singapore. It wasn’t a bed of roses to begin with because people were used to the single large seating cinemas that screens one show at a time before the 1990s.

The incumbent cinema operators in Singapore have an illustrious heritage in movie production and dominated the local scene with their traditional single-screen cinemas. They are backed by conglomerates and were keenly watching on what was deemed a risky move by a government agency to revolutionise the cinema scene in Singapore. Compared to the movie tycoons, Steven was a newbie in the business they had been in for decades.

Steven was determined to bring the successful cineplex experience from Australia to elevate local residents’ enjoyment as well as inviting innovative companies into Singapore for the benefit of the economy, which is the charter of EDB.

Conditions were challenging because he had to navigate the different agencies to secure a site to build Singapore’s first cineplex. During the 1980s and early 1990s of Singapore, prime land was reserved for private bidders and Orchard Road was the only shopping and entertainment destination. Being prudent, the relevant government  agencies were only able to provide a location that was far from ideal, out in the suburbs where spending power of the residents were limited. 

The odds were stacked against Steven and the cineplex company which he intended to bring into Singapore. However, they were silently confident in replicating the successful model into Singapore because of the intricate details from seat arrangement, acoustic, and the peripheral offerings from movie memorabilia and collectibles like membership cards, lighting, carpeting, plush corridors and luxurious walkways that delivered exceptional and thematic entertainment experiences.

Fast-forward till today, cineplexes are a norm and the local scene was rejuvenated with both the new and incumbent operators building cineplexes into shopping malls across the country with neighbouring countries following suit. It’s a transformational success and we have extraordinary leadership to thank for.

Maturity of technological tools and strategies for transformation

Disparate islands of systems spanning across decades and sprawling across organisational landscape, coupled with traditional computing workloads that once revolutionised manual paper processes are fast becoming stumbling blocks in the next digital transformation journey of many organisations. 

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and their teams are now overwhelmed with not just corporate IT functions but are increasingly required to offer recommendations into cybersecurity, business operations, operational technology, facilities management and Internet-of-Things (IoT).

This is made even more challenging with global inflationary concerns and the Great Resignation which reduced the pool of talents amidst the increased demand for digital talents required to transform the businesses.

The flurry of new technological start–ups make it difficult to choose the best-of-breed solution. The increasing difficulty to integrate or migrate from traditional computing workloads to newer operating models like cloud or as-a-service are present with increased risks too.

Automation and sustainable strategies from digital physical lockers for staff to self-service collection of their issued equipment; preemptive maintenance made possible with notifications; unified service desk and disparate systems for efficiency;

omni-channel platforms coupled with data and artificial intelligence to drive improved engagement experiences across mobile, web, SMS, social media and email; intelligent document processing with proven models; sustainable logistics and packaging to reduce carbon footprint are priorities to be determined by leaders in delivering the most impact in the shortest possible time.

Security strategies from conventional detection of known threats to unique detection-less methods rendering unknown attackers without a destination to target; data diodes to segregate and limit communication to one-way; file sanitization to mitigate security risks from users; automated vulnerability assessment and penetration testing (VAPT); and code scanning of binary files are a curated way to improve security postures while reducing costs.

We like the hype and excitement of new products but deep down we know maturity counts. We want a seasoned pair of hands to support transformational journeys to minimise risks and maximise the success rates. 

Computing workload modernisation

For many organisations, there is really a big sprawling footprint of ageing infrastructure platforms which require a thorough review. It’s like buying a house 30 years ago and looking at the amount of items (systems) cluttering across the rooms and walkways that were bought over the years. 

Some of these items are valuable because they contain important memories (data) and we like to give them a fresh lease of life with better cabinets (server rooms); offloading them to offsite storage hubs (datacentres); or digitising them and sharing with relatives over the Internet (cloud). Most of our enduring institutions or organisations are at least a few decades old and they can be cluttered. Even those who are organised will find it necessary to renovate their houses to keep up with times. The same goes for our IT systems, which are giving CIOs and their teams a hard time to revamp without having to tell their colleagues to live without a roof (downtime).

When it comes to keeping up with times, some organisations may want a rapid migration to cloud; some may be worried that the existing platforms they are on are reaching end-of-life and end-of-service. Others could already be exploring containerisation and facing challenges. Modernisation is making the right decisions with a thorough understanding and mapping of one’s environment. How much we know is half the battle won.

The next half is getting professional help. Enterprise architecture consulting offers the best insights for IT infrastructure modernisation by harmonising the existing sprawl with leading solutions that are innovative yet matured in adoption to deal with the distributed computing demands across on-premise, cloud, hybrid and edge.

Actionable digital leadership

In summary, market trends, organisation cultural norms, availability and maturity of tools, and readiness for change are factors for transformational success. Also, timing is important in rolling out successful campaigns. In addition, extraordinary leadership is crucial in delivering impact. Next, transformation success rates can be improved with careful deliberation supported by experienced professionals, backed by research, and word-of-mouth with a pilot trial or proof-of-concept to begin with. Today, social media, collaboration tools and information are readily available at our fingertips, hence it is  important to execute and engage stakeholders to garner feedback for faster iterations to reach our objectives.

At Kyndryl, where I’m a partner to clients, colleagues and vendors in the region and globally, we have 30 years of experience in transforming traditional workloads including mainframes for some of the most enduring institutions. 

I’m glad to share that Kyndryl developed a decision-making tree to aid our clients in a  non-obligatory discovery workshop for private enterprises and public agencies. In a nutshell, it’s our way of saying hello and building goodwill in our community by offering complimentary advisory services for long-term partnerships.

#marvinTechAdvocate

I am Mar Vin, Foo.

Thank you for leading the conversation of change.

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HR Tech

Leadership development in a virtual world

Written by –  Sreena Seetha Nadarajan on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)

Remote learning and training became the norm during the covid pandemic. With most of us locked in our homes, we were forced to look for new ways to acquire knowledge, to connect with people and, for many, develop new skills and capabilities. Those at the top of organisations, including senior leaders who are Members of our Community, had to navigate the challenges of leading their businesses remotely. How do you keep in touch with your executive team, your Board, your people and the outside world? How do you seek inspiration and advice, from colleagues, mentors and peers, in a lock down? 

Online learning and training is nothing new. Companies have offered employees access to e-learning as a flexible and often cost effective way of upskilling teams for some time. The challenge of leadership development is more complex. For executives, it’s often less about learning a new skill, but instead understanding the business landscape outside of your immediate organisation and industry. It is no longer enough to have deep sector expertise, leaders need insight from a range of sources and across different geographies in today’s fast-paced environment.

Executive development using technology to let the outside in

According to our research, senior executives including CEOs, CFOs and HRDs consistently rate development opportunities like mentoring and peer learning as most effective to their roles and responsibilities. When lockdown hit back in March 2020, Criticaleye had to quickly adapt many of the learning experiences we offer our Members, so technology played a major role in keeping leaders current and connected. 

In fact, when it comes to executive development, virtual meetings and connections with other leaders around the globe has become one of the major opportunities to emerge from the crisis. Our mentors are now able to combine face-to-face interactions with virtual conversations, creating a constant and consistent touchpoint for their mentee. Equally, and although we resumed our calendar of physical events last year when restrictions were lifted, the advent of more regular, virtual roundtables and forums at Criticaleye is enabling our Members to dip into leadership insight and be inspired by peers more than ever before.

Tech and Talent

If the way leaders are developing their skills and capabilities is changing, so too is the way they think about their workforce and talent strategies. Organisations need to adapt to remain competitive, and improve their understanding of both what it means to lead a distributed workforce. It’s about much more than remote working. Leading a distributed workforce should be intentional, strategic and it requires a shift in both leaders’ mindset and the culture of the business.  

According to discussions we frequently have with leaders across the Criticaleye Community, executives need to ask themselves how they can create a new sense of belonging in a more remote working environment. They also need to question how they measure and maintain productivity. Overall, there must be a focus from leadership teams on retaining your best talent, and, going back to our Criticaleye Research, the C-suite consistently cites talent as their top priority for the year ahead. 

Digital transformation is not just about the customer. It must also play a key role in how you engage your teams, what you offer in order to hold on to key people, how people learn and how leaders get the touchpoints they need to be successful. 

Sreena Nadarajan, Head of Research UK, Criticaleye

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