When the world started going into lockdown, we saw an unprecedented rise in productivity from home. Talks about the “new normal” started popping up in each conversation. I was always wary of those that professed remote work to be the “new normal” because the pandemic lockdowns were too big a factor in the productivity rise we witnessed. Unsurprisingly, as the pandemic receded, most organizations started talking about “back to office” initiatives. Managers cited productivity as the main reason, leaders cited culture. Most workers, though, showed a clear preference for WFH. Most people settle on some poorly thought through middle-ground of… Read More »Navigating the return to office
“They want us to templatize our solutions”, she said. More pained than horrified by the latest stance taken by the boutique e-learning firm she worked with. About 800kms away, he was consulting for a large automotive company that was also going through a similar cycle of optimisation and standardisation. 2023 was hardly the year for craft. Both firms were full of passionate, creative people. While the tools of their trade differed, for most of them, the deeper intrinsic motivation came from the autonomy they enjoyed, in treating each problem on its own merit and to solve each in its own… Read More »The trouble with passion for the craft
Not all work is the same and as a leader, allocating time to the right kind of work is essential. Time and again I’ve used the war-peace-prosperity model while thinking through this in the context of organization design. Please note that I’m using the term leader in the sense of a person that holds authority and accountability of some part of the business (rather than the more widely applicable idea of “leadership”). War War-like circumstances are chaotic. They need urgent and decisive action. You can think of war in both the active sense and the passive sense. In the passive… Read More »Where do you spend most of your time?
In the last article we tried to define Digital Transformation as leveraging technology to drive your business strategy. This requires a fundamental change in the organization’s way of looking at technology and its ability to leverage technology to inform the strategy rather than just execute it! It is also imperative for the strategy to empower the technology to explore unknown possibilities. The role of technology This means that digital work is operating in the same space as business strategy does! And to operate in the complex-chaotic domains requires the “digital” part of the organization to be as entrepreneurial as the… Read More »What is Digital Work?
Digital Transformation is one of the most overused phrases of the past decade. And just like the blind men trying to describe the elephant, we only describe the parts of it that are most apparent to us. I’m aware of the same mistake that I’d be making if I tried to define it holistically. So, to me, the most meaningful way to describe it, is in context of the rest of this series. I’ve enjoyed complexity theory in the past few years after being introduced to the Cynefin framework by Dave Snowden. So I want to look at Digital Transformation… Read More »Digital Transformation through the lens of complexity
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About a year ago, in a post about custard apples, I was talking about experimentation. The idea being that you have to assume failure and conduct a lot of experiments to really be able to use the method effectively. I also argued that this is not a new concept. In fact, we understand this quite intuitively, especially when it comes to nature. However, we seem to apply it very selectively in our lives. For example a colleague of mine pointed out in the comments that this concept is no different than a VC firm having a portfolio of startups, most… Read More »Tough Love
Siloes For as long as I remember, most of the “progressive” IT world has been talking about “removing siloes” as the way to improve the results of all IT endeavors. The debate is largely about what counts as “good results” and this definition has gradually shifted from a focus on efficiency and optimisation to a focus on value and effectiveness which is a welcome change. In terms of siloes, however, it only means moving from siloes of technology / expertise to siloes of functional value. There is no way to remove all siloes. In fact, we will not be able… Read More »Technology Team Models for Modern Businesses
I love Custard Apples. Not giving anyone any ideas but I’m pretty sure you could kidnap me by showing me a custard apple at the right moment! Needless to say I want to grow a custard apple tree… Now growing a custard apple tree is a very difficult business. You have to: Put the seeds in water and discard the ones that float Leave the rest in water for about a week Wrap them in a damp tissue paper and leave them for a few more weeks to germinate. Some of them will germinate. Some will catch fungus. Others will… Read More »Custard Apples
In the last post, we discussed how culture is an important element of successful digital transformations. This means that we should stop looking at culture as a byproduct and instead start making it part of our digital transformation strategy. There are a few frameworks that I have found useful in thinking about org culture but like the blind men trying to describe the elephant, these frameworks are individually limited. It is by using them together that we might be able to get somewhere. So that’s my attempt over the next few posts. All models are wrong; some models are useful.… Read More »Digital Transformation : Understanding Organization Culture