The leap towards a new set of normative beliefs and values, a new Ideology of Management, that is in stark contrast to existing management practices requires much faith and conviction to initiate and sustain. Who has taken this leap? Under which circumstances? What is the fine print of the transformation?
Who has taken the leap towards Digital Management?
A lot of companies already have:
- Nearly all well-known Digital champions such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Zappos, Netflix, Snap, Etsy, GitHub
- Classic companies transforming into Digital ones: Wegmans (Grocery), Buurtzorg (Health Care Services), FAVI (Automotive Supplier), Morning Star (Food Processing), Patagonia (Apparel)
- Classic companies transforming pockets of their Organizations into Digital Organizations: Otto.de (B2C), Disney (e.g. Pixar)
In addition to that, I worked with or talked to Organizations who started their digital transformations with their IT units. IT units appear to be a natural place to start, as the pain caused by the tedious way IT services are provided today appears to be the very bottleneck of all attempts to digitize companies.
But there are companies taking the Digital Management Approach further, some to all departments, including Manufacturing, HR, Sales and even Accounting. Here is a list of the most aggressive form of Digital Management, called “Holacracy”. I watch this movement since 2015 and it is really gaining traction in organizations and the minds of progressive leaders.
There are many forms of Digital Mangement out there, but all organizations show the uniting feature of a move away from hierarchy and to more autonomous, trusted teams.
“If everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing”
Where is a good place to start the transformation towards Digital Management?
Digital Management is a term used by me and is defined in my last posts. Other people label this new way to manage and organize “Team of Teams” (Stanley McChrystal) or “Holacracy” or “the Amazon way” or the “Google Model”. Whatever the name, the main characteristics shared are all the same.
While the principles can really be applied to any organization, benefits and needs seem to be greatest in knowledge-driven organizations or those parts of organizations which are knowledge driven.
IT units fall into that knowledge-driven category. It is really an ideal candidate to start this new organizational model, given
- the need to change often tedious IT Operations is existing in always all companies
- that any “digital transformation” initiative places an oversized sign pointing towards IT and reading “RESTRUCTURE ME”.
- that modern software architecture and processes like DevOps or Continous Delivery are urgently required in order for companies to keep pace with the changes in the marketplace
The fine print: Q&A
The major outlines of the Digital Management approach can be found in the last post A New Ideology for Management in the Digital Age. Here is the fine print:
Digital Management is not a Pony Farm
This Blog, ManagementDigital has a business take on things. There are obviously bigger implications for people and society as a whole if people experience work not a “wrench in a machine” but as a creative person.
I choose to leave this humanistic perspective to others, like the Holacracy crowd, which strikes me as a big esoteric. I think that a “Heal the world” perspective will fail to convince the profit-seeking executives of this world.
Plus there is simply not enough evidence for less autocratic organizations to turn the workplace to a more human place. There are at least as many companies with an aggressive, meritocratic culture based on strength than socially responsible companies, The most aggressive ones are probably Uber, followed by Tesla and Amazon. Hugely successful, nonhierarchical companies with explicit Digital management structures – but with abrasive, in Uber’s case even abusive company cultures.
After all, a companies organization of work is something other than a companies culture.
Hope you liked this post!
A german speaking podcast for this blog is available.
Digital Transformation is a more encompassing term for all initiatives to revamp a company in order to succeed in the Digital Age. It encompasses Business Strategy, Business Models, Product Design, Customer Focus, Data Intelligence, Market Positioning and new (Digital) Management Models.