This week’s Ask the Expert is answered by Mike Flache, angel investor, entrepreneur and involved in over 15 startups in Silicon Valley, while also being recognised as a thought leader by Fortune 500 companies.
Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain or Robotics are changing the world and offering completely new business opportunities.
Unfortunately, too many companies risk falling behind. One of the biggest challenges to growth is quickly integrating disruptive technology into the operations while establishing a digital-first company culture.
Why does that happen?
Time and again, I see companies almost frantically clinging to established structures and processes. In some cases, even when the organization has already fallen well behind the key performance indicators. Talented employees simply can’t develop their full potential in this type of environment. New ideas are stifled before they can take root. These are not exactly the best conditions to promote innovation and growth – and especially to ensure the future viability of the company. Incidentally, this applies equally to huge corporations as well as medium-sized companies.
But how can the transition from “stagnant thinking” to pioneering spirit succeed?
1. Employee engagement
One of the most important success factors is to give talented, ambitious employees the necessary space to develop and expand their own abilities. This works really well outside of rigid, bogged down processes – with a so-called “digital unit”. This system allows detachment from the core organization so that the teams of this unit can work with great agility. It facilitates development and evaluation of innovative digital products and new business models. By the way: Errors are allowed in this “protected environment”. Ultimately, they offer the opportunity to optimize products/business models at a much faster pace, thus shortening the time to market (TTM).
2. Personal accountability and commitment
Companies that successfully drive digital growth make sure to offer their employees the right work environment that allows them to take responsibility. Engaged employees do meaningful work and have a clear understanding of how they contribute to the mission, purpose and strategic goals of the company. And motivated employees are productive employees. Above all, this requires a clear commitment from top management, because employee engagement is not a one-way street. It’s based on building a trusting relationship between employees and the companies they work for. That’s why the same applies to both sides: appreciation instead of abasement. Flatter hierarchies instead of top-down management.
Takeaway for the C-Suite
Empowering your teams to grow the business in the digital world requires a fundamental change in leadership, workplace and corporate culture. That can’t be implemented overnight. Most companies still have a long way to go. Nonetheless, it’s worthwhile to follow this path consistently in order to shape the future of your business.
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