How to Nurture Digital Readiness
What are we doing about boosting the Digital IQ of our organisations?
As we continue to transform and tilt ever further towards automation, it’s time to question the amount of support we are giving our colleagues.
The latest report from PWC says that confidence in our digital abilities is at an all time low.
In a global survey of Executives 52% rated their digital IQ as strong. Down from 66% just three years ago.
Our people , it seems, simply can’t keep up with the advances in technology. So what are we doing wrong?
First of all the scope of “digital” has changed. It used to mean our IT capabilities, then extended to take in social media awareness. Now it’s much more pervasive, touching on strategy, culture, customer and colleague experience.
Employing people with the right digital skills is now non-negotiable.
Yet some organisations are adopting a wait and see tactic: let the old guard retire and be usurped by a new breed of younger digital natives.
Except that won’t happen.
‘Born digital’ millennials are a figment of our collective imagination. A review paper has concluded that “information-savvy digital natives do not exist.”
Instead we need to focus on seeking out what Pew Research call ‘digital readiness’.
This exhibits itself in two ways:
- Digital skills: the skills necessary to adapt to new technology, browse the internet and share content online.
- Trust: people’s beliefs about their capacity to determine the trustworthiness of digital resources and to safeguard personal information.
These two factors express themselves in the third dimension of digital readiness, namely use – the degree and aptitude to which people use digital tools in the course of carrying out their day to day work.
Being digitally ready doesn’t mean having a CEO on Twitter or chasing the latest apps. It means knowing what your personal goals are and what tools to use to achieve them. It means creating new networks and sharing knowledge to benefit your team or organisation.
In the Pew research, only 50% of people describe themselves as very digitally confident. Therefore it follows we all have people in our organisations , from Executives to the frontline, that are falling behind.
Perhaps we need to identify the digital laggards and connect them with the leaders who are often hiding in full view from the organisation. They are often overlooked by traditional Leadership Development programmes which tend to perpetuate a hierarchical model of ‘identifying future leaders’.
In my experience the most digitally ready often operate in ways that are wholly inconsistent with the current operating structure. They take a more radical approach to decision-making, and they don’t recognise a command-and-control model.
We haven’t really discussed the implications of this for our leadership. The new potential of artificial intelligence and robotics poses major new challenges for organisational development.
Really we need a new set of questions:
- What are the implications of new technologies for leadership at all levels?
- How will these changes disrupt and impact the business model?
- What knowledge and skills should be our priority?
- What do we hold on to from our past? What do we discard?
Just like knowledge has been democratised through social media, leadership will become democratised and ever more flattened. Making the transition from the individualist nature of leadership to a more collective focus won’t be easy.
It requires moving away from thinking that tools and systems can transform us.
It requires moving away from seeing ‘Digital Leadership’ as the preserve of an elite few who we all follow.
Unless we all feel that our Digital IQs are improving – that we are ready for the challenges of an increasingly automated future – we may find we have no place in it.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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