Paradigm Shift is Needed for Organizations to Succeed in the Digital Age

What’s New and What’s the Same in the Digital Age

The Digital Age is well and truly upon us. Everywhere we see technological acceleration and the speed and connectivity model is upending age old methods of working and is destroying reputed and long standing businesses that failed to make the necessary adjustments and transition to survive and prosper in the Digital Age.

Indeed, so far the Digital Age has meant that startups such as Uber have managed to create an entirely new model of how businesses work and in the process, engaging and driving a Creative Destruction Frenzy that has seen the likes of the traditional medallion taxis firms being rendered obsolete.

In addition, what the Digital Age has also done is to Empower Billions of Consumers into a new form of Free Market Capitalism where they have plentiful choices and the ease and convenience of transactions on their computers or Smartphones has become so pervasive that an entire layer of middlemen have been made redundant and in turn, a direct exchange between the businesses and the consumers has taken root.

How Organizations Can Embrace Digital Methodologies

Predictably, this new form of conducting business and transacting commerce has meant that organizations everywhere are scrambling to Jump on to the Digital Bandwagon lest they miss out or worse, they are left out completely.

Thus, we see media reports about how corporates are embracing Agile and Scrum methodologies and are discarding their hierarchical organizational structures for flexible and networked as well as self organizing models.

In addition, we have also seen how organizations are moving away from top down methods of working to an open systems and symbiotic models where each unit is self contained and is in a position to take feedback and act on the same and that too, in real time.

In other words, the defining terms of the Digital Age are Speed, Connectivity, Network, and Real Time modes of working and this is where some organizations are succeeding while others are being left wondering where they went wrong.

Example of the Agile Methodology and What it Takes to Follow It

It is the contention in this article that embracing Digital Transformation looks like a Catchy Slogan on paper while it is indeed a tough asks in the real world. For instance, however hard they try, organizations cannot simply discard their hierarchical structures to modular and networked ones overnight.

Moreover, they cannot simply adopt Agile without a concomitant shift in mindset of its executives, managers, and more importantly, rank and file employees.

Therefore, it is the case that to succeed in the Digital Age, organizations need more than simple embrace of methodologies and models and instead, a Paradigm Shift in Thinking and Execution should be the objective.

For instance, take the case of organizations taking to agile methodologies.

This model where each team is capable of the entire Design-Build-Test-Release-Support cycle means that what is needed for the team members is to be a Master of All Trades or in other words, a move away from traditional silos where each phase is done by a different team and instead, what is needed now is that each team is self contained and more importantly, can also seek and act on feedback from the external world in real time.

Indeed, this means that a mindset change where team members no longer shrug their Shoulders and say, this is not my specialty and instead, welcome and take on any task and all the tasks.

Apart from being multi skilled, the team members should also have a mindset of Can Do and Will Do that sets them apart from the teams of yesteryears where specialization was prized over generalization.

Challenges and Rewards in the VUCA Paradigm

Having said that, as mentioned earlier, there are many organizations that have embraced the new models of working and yet, they find it hard to succeed.

This is mainly because they have not adjusted to the VUCA Paradigm that stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity aspects of the present times.

Operating in the VUCA Paradigm means that organizations have to master the twin aspects of speed and complexity that can seem to be contradictory but are indeed essential for success in the Digital Age.

For instance, for a long time, it was thought that simple tasks can be done quickly and vice versa whereas now, this is no longer true.

Thus, organizations have to be prepared for dealing with complexity and at the same time, be ready for the Maddening Acceleration of events and trends.

In other words, Agile has to be followed in both name and principle where organizations that are nimble and flexible and yet also are deep in terms of expertise succeed.

As mentioned earlier, apart from skills and expertise, a mindset change is what is needed. This can only be actualized when a Paradigm Shift in the way organizations think and act is embraced to succeed in the Digital Age.

Creative Destruction and Survival of the Fittest

Lastly, like with each disruption and transition that capitalism and technology working in tandem bring about, a process of Creative Destruction happens wherein the Hidden Hand of the Markets weeds out those who cannot adopt and adapt and instead, a new breed of firms succeed that were ready for the challenges of such disruptions.

If organizations do not want to be left behind, the least that they could do is to learn from others, apply the new principles, embrace change, and adjust and adapt to the new rules of business.

To conclude, as the Laws of the Jungle make it clear, only the Fittest survive and this is the same for the Digital Era firms where they have to be There or Be Square.

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