Digital transformation should focus on capabilities to get work done

A solid digital transformation strategy goes far beyond  fancy tools and platforms. The actual work and business processes that the tools are intended to help, should be the real center of attention.

Yet still so many business leaders, IT managers and CIOs seem to make the mistake focusing on the bits and bytes. When they are contemplating social technology for internal use, for example, they often end up discussing “Should we adopt Sharepoint integrated with Yammer, IBM connections and Jive or simply use Facebook at Work?” While these are indeed important questions,  a purely technology-centric approach will only offer a one way ticket to failure.

What we should be asking, according to digital strategist and enterprise collaboration expert Oscar Berg is “what capabilities do people need to get their work done?” He claims that there are 9 of these capabilities which are most common, as he describes in his digital collaboration framework:

  1. Awareness about what is happening around them and in the workplace.
  2. Finding people & expertise best suited to solve a given problem.
  3. Finding information that has been shared.
  4. Sharing information openly with one or more people.
  5. Communicating effectively in social networks and exchanging information with one or more people.
  6. Co-creating information together with other people
  7. Conducting affairs and participating in meetings to maximize impact & avoid wasted effort
  8. Networking. Establishing and maintaining relationships with people
  9. Coordinating tasks with minimal effort and time

Berg claims that there is still plenty of waste hidden in knowledge work. I couldn’t agree more. Most knowledge workers lose a lot of precious time on activities like searching for information that already exists in the organization, locating expertise or figuring out what their colleagues are doing. In fact, they seem to spend more time in just getting ready to work than working.   Berg is convinced that if organizations can improve these 9 key capabilities with digital solutions, they will enable their knowledge workers to collaborate much more closely and, in doing so, unlock their hidden potential.

Based on the digital collaboration framework, Berg also developed the `The Digital Collaboration Canvas’ which I really like. It includes definitions of each capability and helps you to assess and improve these capabilities within a certain context: a specific business process, a department, a team, a project, communities to exchange ideas and knowledge, innovation, etc. Oscar also included a free template of the canvas as PDF which can you use as long as you attribute to the author.

Harold Jarche, international consultant and speaker, has added three interesting elements to these capabilities: cooperation, collaboration and personal knowledge mastery.

  • Collaborative skills are the capabilities which are focused on working together for a common objective to get things done. Most organizations are pretty good at this result-driven type of collaboration.
  • Cooperation, however, is about sharing an interesting article or video freely with no expectation of direct benefit. Most organizations have difficulties with this. And this is understandable, seeing that this type of activity is not directly billable. But, it does pay off to cherish it when you realize that it tends to inspire new ideas.
  • Personal Knowledge Mastery is the individual discipline of each person seeking out knowledge, making sense of it on an ongoing basis, and sharing with others at the appropriate times. This can be stimulated, for example, by learning or working out loud.

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