In a previous blog post, I wrote about how organizations need to embed Digital DNA into their business strategies, to not only survive but to become digital disruptors. I’ve been asked what individuals can do to get themselves ready for Digital and the answer is precisely the same: deeply integrate Digital DNA with your business or personal strategy. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or someone who plays a key role in an organization, the imperative is the same. Go back to your original, core strategy and ingrain Digital DNA throughout.
Here are the tenets of Digital DNA for corporations pivoted for the individual-based on my own learnings and failings:
You must be agile and responsive. What does it mean to you as an individual? You need to able to make quick decisions and work collaboratively to increase speed and responsiveness. You must be able to access and analyze data to develop actionable insight from it. Examine traditional work modes developed years ago to find new ways of working with agility, responsiveness, and adaptation.
2) External orientation
Innovation is everywhere. It’s important to develop an external orientation. To begin with all of us need to increase our level of curiosity. Try to understand what is happening outside your own, your employer’s or even your industry’s ecosystem because now the boundaries of who you compete with are changing very fast. Be open to new ideas and willing to experiment.
3) Ability to take risks
Be willing to take risks and be comfortable with things not working. Whether you are running a small business or work for a large conglomerate, there are ways to experiment. Take a calculated risk, segment small portions of a business or workflow and see what works and what doesn’t. Amplify what works and learn quickly from what doesn’t. The last tenet is one that I’m adding to the discussion and it’s particularly important for individuals and teams to understand.
4) Cross-functional collaboration
Things need to happen quickly. You need to collaborate with others in groups – not in a chained or linear process.
Cross-functionality and collaboration are core to the Digital Individual’s effectiveness. Firstly, to be successful in the digital world, you need to respond fast which means you research end consumer needs, bring cross-industry best practices, develop disruptive ideas, prototype them using technology, test and market them. All this has to be done at rapid pace.
You cannot do this successfully if you are working in a silo where you throw your ball to the next group and so forth. Everybody needs to come together and collaborate effectively because the cycle times are significantly reduced.
Secondly, because customers are coming in and out from the physical and virtual worlds, they expect you to provide seamless service regardless of the channel. You have to be able to work across all parts of the service life cycle with the customer to get their inputs to enhance this customer experience.
In the end all of these tenets work together.
I’ve been asked if only millennials can be Digital. I think that Digital does come more naturally to them because they have grown up in this world. For example, when they pick up any device they expect that device to interact with them and that the screen is a touch screen. But there is no reason why the non-millennial can’t adapt and perform. Any person can develop basic digital tenants: agility, external orientation, risk taking and collaboration. You don’t have to be born after 1990 to have Digital DNA. Another way of thinking about this is the idea of digital fitness. Fitness takes work and commitment but is not bound by age. Everybody can be digitally fit.
Recommended Reading for increasing Digital fitness:
1) Velocity – The seven new laws for a world gone digital by Velocity by Ajaz Ahmed and Stefan Olander
2) Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Kenneth Cukier
3) Work Rules by Laszlo Bock