We’re excited that the new book by our Founder, Dr. Domenico Lepore, will be coming out next month. It’s called ‘Moving the Chains: An Operational Solution for Embracing Complexity in the Digital Age‘. Dr. Domenico Lepore answers four key questions here about competitiveness in the Digital Age.
1) What does digital mean for business and what are are the challenges and the opportunities that digital presents?
Digital permeates, and will permeate increasingly more, every aspect of our lives, professional and otherwise. The single greatest mistake we can make is to think of it as a “technology thing”. Digital is first and foremost an organizational issue as it forces us to rethink the value chains every business is part of in terms of speed of flow, which is the antithesis of the still prevailing hierarchical/silo model steeped in local optima. Digital is predicated upon transparency, openness, win-win and a systemic view of the whole chain. It foreshadows an approach to competitiveness based on continuous value creation all along the chains and calls for an unprecedented synchronization of all the activities, from idea generation to product roll out and Branding. It is nothing short of a revolution and it is happening right now. Digital is offering an opportunity to anyone who is capable of heeding it to break free from the bondage of the self defeating silo thinking.
2) How does leadership change in the digital age?
Current leadership, Boards and C-suites in many industrial sectors are largely inadequate to face the acceleration that digital is impressing on our world. Decisions are still being driven by cost considerations, relationships are based on a totally outdated “command and control” mindset and the linear thinking engendered by spreadsheets maneuvered by accountants seems to be the only criterion to base actions on. There is very little understanding of network dynamics and how to create a win-win culture. Business schools and Executive Education are sorely lagging behind in promoting the cultural shift that should take place in order to cope with the change in paradigm that digital is bringing. The only solution seems to be the creation of another functional silo headed by a “Digital Transformation Officer”. C-suites and Boards can instead learn a lot from the “original thought” that has inspired the best practices in plant management, provided they are willing to pay the emotional price of having to learn and significantly alter their current mental models. Sadly, this original thought, put forth in the last 40 years by Dr. Deming (Quality) and Dr.Goldratt (Theory of Constraints) has been mangled into a myriad of Plant techniques (Lean, six sigma, Kamban, etc) and perceived as totally divorced from the underlying meaningful economics it portended.
3) What kind of talents should companies attract and how can we retain them?
A huge part of the problem is the inability of the sector to attract talented thinkers and nurture in them the desire to see learning as the main avenue to progress in their professional journey. Automotive, and manufacturing in general, has lost its ability to lure the best and the brightest. Most importantly, it seems to have lost its ability to develop its people, broaden their competencies and provide a horizon of continuous personal and professional growth, the defining features of a “desirable work environment” for younger generations. Indeed, this inability stems from the “corporate worldview“, which is still pretty much anchored to a silo mentality and a culture of separation and divisiveness. A new organizational design is in order, one that feasts on the ingenuity and talent of its people and promotes a genuine culture of cooperation internally and all along the chains. Once again; the cultural and cognitive seeds for the evolution from this outdated Dickensian industry scenario ta digital world do exist inside the automotive world, but are not leveraged as they are lost in the haystack of Corporate lunacy.
4) How can businesses promote meaningful innovation?
Innovation is about removing limitations and these limitations are dictated by limiting beliefs (outdated mental models). Innovation is about enabling the feature that is unique to the human species: cause-effect thinking, the hallmark of the scientific revolution. Technology has always existed, humans have always had the ability to forge tools for their benefit. Science, instead, only arrived on the scene 4-500 years ago, as a result of the development of “abstract thinking”. Innovation starts there, from the ability to think of an issue in abstract, conceptual terms. This is why we need to populate industry with thinkers. But it is not enough. We have to provide them with the possibility to see their thinking through, unhindered by the straight-jacket of the current, primitive, functional hierarchies. I would say that the pace of sustainable innovation is dictated by the ability of the organizational model to sustain it. Again, the solutions exist; we just need to open our eyes to them.
‘Moving the Chains: An Operational Solution for Embracing Complexity in the Digital Age‘ will be available through all the major bookselling channels from June, 2019.
Since 1999, we have been presenting a new model for a systemic organization in detail, both in terms of the thinking behind it and how to conduct operations. We work alongside CEOs and Executive Teams to support the shift towards more effective, systemic strategy and operations. Our books include ‘Deming and Goldratt: The Decalogue‘, ‘Sechel: Logic, Language and Tools to Manage Any Organization’, ‘The Human Constraint‘ and most recently, ‘Quality, Involvement and Flow: The Systemic Organization’ . We support our international clients through education, training and the Ess3ntial multi-project software using Critical Chain to schedule competencies and unlock the potential of human resources. Based on our proprietary Decalogue methodology.