Digital Mindset: Evolution By Natural Selection

Written by: Gaurav Dhooper

In the biological evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin, all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual's ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. The evolution by natural selection explains the adaptation and speciation [Source: Wikipedia].

The digital mindset is no different as it is also based on the evolutionary theory of trying the different variations, observing the results and preserving them for adaptation if it is found to be beneficial. In fact, a right digital mindset allows effective strategy formulation and communication as digital transformation is no longer an option; but a need for existence.

As per a recent report from Gartner, “Eighty-seven percent of senior business leaders say digitalization is a company priority, yet only 40% of organizations have brought digital initiatives to scale.” This gap is arising due to lack of shared vision or goal which directly comes from the mindset created.

Let us understand the mindset that needs to be fostered and developed in the digital era which impacts the behavior and actions.

  1. Growth Mindset- It is at the heart of digital mindset which allows the individuals to leave their comfort zone and lets them believe that their talents can be developed. When the organization cultivates a growth mindset, it allows its employees to feel more empowered and accountable. A growth mindset will treat failure as an opportunity to learn and will improve the experience in the success story.
  2. Innovative Mindset- Innovative mindset is another way of embracing the use of technology to develop something new that impacts the market and creates value for users. It requires openness to change, embracing creativity and acting fast on the feedback obtained. For example, in the financial services industry, fraud prevention is vital, and Artificial Intelligence is helping the companies determine which transactions are likely to be fraudulent in real-time in an automatic and efficient way. There are lot many examples of innovations which are disrupting the market and creating additional value for the customers.
  3. Experimental and Learning Mindset- There is no one-size-fits-all approach and a confirmed way to tell what will work and what will not work. It requires constant experimentation, learning and adapting to the results and needs. In this VUCA world, one needs to build an ability to deal with the uncertainties and learn from the environmental changes. For example, an architectural concept for quality production check through a digital twin design with cloud platform and full data digitalization for smart manufacturing was implemented. This helped in learning from the experiment whether the architecture proposed will work in Industry 4.0 integration of smart digital technology and manufacturing.
  4. Leadership Mindset- This mindset inspires the team to take ownership of the tasks and motivates them to improve and stay focused. It also lets the leaders stay ahead of changes and involves the team to find the best approach for delivering the value to the customer. The leadership mindset evaluates the performance empirically and not just based on the output generated. For example, evaluating performance based on benefits delivered or the customer impact it has brought.
  5. Collaborative Approach- According to a recent Work survey by ServiceNow, 92% of executives believe that COVID-19 has forced their company to rethink how work gets done and challenge the status quo. 87% of the employees believe that their company has created new and better ways of working. But still 54% of the executives are most worried about the outputs such as delays in product delivery or service delivery. The probable reason is lack of collaborative approach despite making best use of digital collaboration tools. The collaborative approach is an all-inclusive approach which demands clarity on the roles, team and organizational goals. Developing trust and a culture of open communication along with psychological safety are very critical to promote a collaborative mindset.
  6. Cognitive Diversity- It brings together people with diverse viewpoints and helps in creative problem solving. It also offers unique perspectives due to different styles of working and thinking. Cognitive Diversity is very important in any transformation journey as it gives rise to alternatives and helps in identifying threats, opportunities and risks which others may overlook. Teams with more diverse approaches have proved to me more creative and performed better due to the ability to do hypothesis testing and learn from it.
  7. Culture of Emergence- An emergent mindset lets the value delivered at cadence. In agile software development, a development organization delivers functionalities and benefits at the end of each iteration and lets the design emerge. The small releases in shorter iterations allows the architecture to evolve and lets the flexibility introduced with the loosely coupled components. Loosely coupled architectures are lean, without many dependencies, allowing teams to work and deploy code independently, and thus, increasing business responsiveness.
  8. Hybrid Mindset- True flexibility resides in a hybrid mindset as it helps in introducing best practices from other approaches also without disturbing the existing structure and retains the values of both the systems. A hybrid mindset is more pragmatic in nature as it is contextual, allows tailoring of processes and adapts easily to multiple approaches. Hybrid Project Management is one such example which lets the project managers use predictive and adaptive approaches depending upon the situation and nature of the project without compromising the desired level of governance and control.

 Journey ahead:

Digital Mindset is about building a culture of adoption and transformation to not only survive; but thrive by reimagining the current processes, business models, attitudes and behaviors with the help of digital medium. The process of natural selection will strengthen the DNA of an organization and will also identify the potential areas of improvement and growth to capture the unrealized value. 

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