Companies need to rethink their strategies to include a digital component, says IESE Prof. Sandra Sieber. This means they need to develop a digital mindset but it also calls for leaders who are capable of adapting to the situation depending on the evolution of the business model. To do this they need supportive structures and processes.
It is clear that companies have an increased need of truly rethinking their strategies and to also incorporate a digital component to it. And to be able to do that, the leaders of the organization have to adapt what we call the digital mindset. And the digital mindset comes in a variety of dimensions.
The first one is my own dimension. What do I have to do, which are the capabilities and competencies that I have to work on to actually become a digital leader. And it includes things like, I have to be creative, I have to be willing to experiment, I have to be willing to take some risks. And then comes the other dimension which is the leadership dimension. What type of leadership actually suits to double up these type of new value propositions. It has to be evolving.
We really need what literature calls “situational leaders”, the ones that are able to adapt to situations and are of one leadership type or another depending on where we are in our evolution of the business model. The third one – the leader that wants to evolve towards a digital mindset needs to have the organization to come up with the structures and processes needed to actually support that. And here, what we are seeing, is that on all three dimensions, we create paradoxical situations because we have to be controlling but flexible.
We have to be willing to continue supporting what we’ve been using but then experiment very heavily with the emerging things. That we’re going to be fully going in this direction at some point and then suddenly make the swap because suddenly something has changed.
A leader that wants to prepare for that has to do a number of things. The first one, obviously, is to get, if it hasn’t happened already, more knowledge about what is happening on the technology space. But understanding the technology is just the first thing and probably the easiest one. The difficult ones are the next two, because it’s influencing the organizational culture so that everybody gets more aware of what’s going on to actually create this openness and awareness of technology in the organization.
And then the third one, probably the hardest one, is, besides working on the cultural side, working on the processes side. Because we will need to have double-faceted processes; the ones that support today and the ones that support tomorrow. And most of that, those processes, will have some clashes and the digital mindset leader needs to proactively work to actually confront those clashes and to allow them to happen.