To challenge paradigms and thought patterns has never been easy. The history shows this more than once: The QWERTY keyboard is still standard – although it has long been proven that other key arrangements would be significantly more efficient. Galileo was presented to the Inquisition for his astronomical observations that refuted the geocentric view of the world. Electricity could lead to an optimization of the drive processes of machines only after many years – because old thought patterns prevailed. Today, we are seeing similar developments with digitalization: even though it is no longer life-threatening to question paradigms, it takes quite a while for new developments in the real world to arrive and make an impact on companies.
Digitalization: a comprehensive process
Anyone who thinks that digitalization is exhausted in using social collaboration tools and digitizing analog products has not understood digitalization. Digitalization is not a project of IT departments, but a comprehensive process that influences the entire enterprise and its underlying patterns of thinking, structures, and ways of organizing. In terms of communication, digitalization means, first and foremost, networking and transparency, and this has far-reaching consequences for working methods, for designing in-house and external relationships. Technologies are only the means by which they are designed. They are the cause of these changes insofar as they make networking possible or significantly simpler.
Constantly reinventing oneself
“Never change a running system”. This saying has lost its validity at the latest with digitalization. Only those who constantly question their structures and systems can benefit from such profound and comprehensive processes of change as digitalization. The decisive factor is that companies are becoming the driver of digitalization, thus proactively shaping them. Far too often, companies are driven by the fact that they are constantly lagging behind in adjusting their processes and products. Companies must systematically and provocatively question established patterns of thinking and forms of added value. In this way, for example, novel services or business models can be developed.
Established thought patterns prevent innovation
But why are well-educated and experienced people not or only partially able to recognize and use the potential of digitalization and novel technologies? The problem is just the experience and the good education. Because with every experience, every acquisition of knowledge, the point of view is further restricted in a certain direction.
This is also reflected in an experiment in which adults, teenagers, and children should generate ideas. There was a pair of shoes in one room. Each of the three groups should consider what to do with this pair of shoes. The children generated over 100 ideas more than the other two groups. The conclusion that this is due to the impartiality of the children due to their lower experience, is obvious: Knowledge and experience affect our creative abilities.
Digitalization requires new processes and structures
Although many companies are taking the first steps towards digitalization and networking. They use new communication technologies, electronic goods registration systems and provide more networking. Nevertheless, processes are still going on as they did in the pre-digital age. Ideas may arise through networking – the path through the hierarchical levels nevertheless dilutes them and delays their implementation. Only electrifying the usual processes does not make them digital and therefore more efficient.
Questioning basic structures and interdependencies, establishing new patterns of thinking and initiating actual changes requires courage and sometimes painful processes. Leaving the comfort zone of habit in many cases creates uncertainty and is, therefore, a great overcoming. But disruptive changes require disruptive adjustments: in terms of culture, organizational structure, and employee leadership.
To-do list for companies
So what do companies have to do to make digitalization a success in their home? Insight is the first step to recovery: only if management is genuinely willing to lead the megaproject digitalization to success and set a good example is there a chance to benefit from digitalization. This has to happen in companies so that digitalization succeeds:
- Management and leadership must set a good example and be willing to implement digitalization.
- Existing thought patterns must be systematically and systematically questioned.
- Restructuring must allow more networking and transparency.
- Leadership must become a partnership.
- Creativity and innovation must be systematically promoted and supported.
To systematically promote the emergence of innovation and facilitate the breaking of thought patterns, the concept of systematic innovation, which I will introduce in my next post, is well suited. In it, his approaches are detailed and pointed to sticking points. You will also receive important tips for implementation. Read my contribution to the concept of systematic innovation.
Source cover picture: © fizkes | fotolia.com