Look at this graph! This graph shows how long it took for different technologies to reach 50 million users. From 75 years for the telephone, to 38 years for radio, 13 years for television, 3,5 years for Facebook and 35 days for Angry birds :-)
It takes us less and less time to adopt new technologies. That means that organizations have less and less time to adapt themselves to the new technologies.
The problem is that many organizations use business techniques that were invented and designed in slower times. Using these techniques in our fast-changing digital times creates issues for organizations that might impact their results. These are 5 signs that could indicate that your organization is not adapted to the fast pace of change:
- Lack of focus: Everyone in the organization has too many things to do and is working very hard on solving issues and implementing new things. People don't know what the priorities are anymore as everything seems important.
- Lack of clarity: The detailed plans change all the time, sometimes even before the implementation has started. A direction has been taken and we make plans accordingly but the next week or month, we change it and decide to do something else. The detailed long-term plans often don't work anymore.
- Slow or inefficient decision process: We see a solution to a problem or an opportunity but then we wait and wait for a decision that comes too late or that is not at all an answer to the opportunity or threat. Stupid decisions are imposed on people all the time and that creates the biggest frustrations internally. What happens is that by the time a fact is escalated to the decision organ (if it ever does), that a decision is made and communicated back to the people, new information is available making the decision obsolete or the opportunity passed or the problem became a crisis.
- Collaboration or communication problems that can lead to silo thinking: In most organizations, the process to deliver something to a customer has been divided over different departments, usually functions (sales, marketing, IT, production,...). That way of organizing worked very well in slower times and increased our productivity tremendously. The problem today is that new information, technology, customer demands or regulations appear very often. These changes impact the overall process and people in the different departments need to align. But they haven't finished aligning around one topic, that the next one is already there, then the next one and so on. The result is that people spend more time in meeting trying to align than doing their actual job. And to protect themselves, they can focus on their own objectives, their own department,... That leads to silo thinking
- And all that creates stress and burnouts: Because people try to compensate by working harder and harder while in fact, the organization needs new business techniques and the leaders need new habits better suited for these fast changing times.
And as a leader, your stress might increase, your impact might decrease while you have never worked this hard. You might start to shut down what you feel to continue delivering everything that is expected from you. And at some point, you might lose a sense of purpose and wonder "For the sake of what, am I doing all this?" or you might even not recognize yourself anymore.
This is what happened to me at least when I was the CEO of a media company in the midst of a digital transformation. By adopting new business techniques and new leadership habits, I successfully transformed my organization with more peace of mind. Today, I'm an academic director at Solvay Brussels School and my purpose is to help leaders adapt to these fast-changing digital times with more peace of mind.