This originally appeared in Training Industry.
While many people may imagine a digital organization to include automation, emerging technology and a strong information technology (IT) team, the reality is that every organization in every industry can — and should — be a digital organization, with different technologies and solutions woven into each department. The biggest area holding companies back from reaching their full digital potential is their people. An organization’s digital fluency is reliant on the culture of the organization, how their people are trained, and how they are structured.
In today’s digital era, the key to becoming a digital organization is to train your people to practice digital agility. Digital agility describes the ease in which an organization can rapidly enable, update, change and/or adapt their processes, tools and technologies and organization to perform basic business functions. When your people embrace a digital mindset, it can help benefit the company’s innovation and future growth. Let’s take a look at how culture, talent and structure are vital to equipping your people with a digital mindset.
Recent findings from West Monroe’s Building a Digital Organization research found that company cultures with a “fail fast” environment that encourages measured risk-taking tend to have the highest digital agility and business performance compared to those that do not. Reasonable risk-taking internally can empower employees to learn, apply and implement new processes with the right support. Of the lower performing, less digitally enabled organizations surveyed in the research, nearly one-half (47%) reported having a culture that creates barriers to risk-taking due to fear of failure. Creating a “fail fast” environment can motivate employees to try new and more efficient ways of doing things. Additionally, combining the “fail fast” mentality with an environment that encourages and recognizes employees for measured risk-taking can continue to lay that foundation around leveraging digital tools and evaluating new efforts. This can help create a culture built on continuous growth and improvement.
The root of every company’s culture is its people. If you don’t have the right people in the right seats, it’s difficult to enhance digital agility and performance. To navigate digital transformation, you must train people on digital skills that are vital to closing skills gaps. The highest performing companies with the highest digital agility have a learning strategy in place to drive employee development. Having a dedicated upskilling program with on-the-job learning can be a great way to develop a digitally minded organization and train your people on much-needed digital skills. It’s important to shift from a “training” mind.
The next step toward becoming a digital organization is for leaders to apply structure to help drive new digital practices in the enterprise. According to a Forbes article, in order to adopt new technology and embrace a digitally minded future for the organization, there needs to be agility. Providing structure during digital transformation can look like many things, whether it’s reorganizing into a team-based structure to enable better cross-departmental collaboration or decentralizing decision-making. Relying on a traditional, hierarchical structure with pockets of people with the same specialties on the same team can create barriers and limit an organization’s potential for digital agility.
The idea of “intelligent failure” and failing fast is a key factor in curating a structure and environment for employees to embrace change, with West Monroe research showing it leads to greater business outcomes along the way. If leaders are encouraging test and learn initiatives focused on a unified vision, employees will feel more engaged and “safe” in doing so — knowing that this is a full learning opportunity, no jobs or growth opportunities are at stake and that there are no “bad” outcomes that can make a huge difference in how companies work toward building the digital mindset. The elements of safety and acceptance when it comes to implementing and enabling a digital mindset can create greater momentum for adoption each step of the way. Historically, many companies have opted into new technology, hosted a tactical training course and left teams to run from there. To be effective and strategic, highlighting the tactical and strategic thinking to leverage digital solutions is the key to digital agility.
Every business will need to become a digital organization with advanced tech ingrained in every team and department. From human resources (HR), marketing and technology, to product development and finance, adopting technology and empowering employees to focus on key efforts can benefit business outcomes and talent retention. Bringing your employees through this transformation starts with shifting their mindset of how the company traditionally operates. Training teams to use digital solutions is the first big step, and organizational culture, talent and structure are the key pillars to effectively do so.