An Executive Guide to the Winter 2020 Issue

These summaries will help you navigate our Winter 2020 lineup.

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You’re Going Digital — Now What?

Paul Leonardi

At the 30,000-foot level of the corporate suite, plotting digital change is heady, exciting stuff. Business leaders can almost smell the gains in efficiency and speed and the data-driven increase in customer satisfaction. But success depends less on inspired strategic planning than on the way people on the front lines implement new digital tools, and most leaders aren’t laying a foundation for those employees to succeed. In large part, that’s because senior managers don’t have any idea what really happens at the ground level. So when tools don’t get used the way they’re supposed to (or even at all), data-driven insights prove unremarkable, and anticipated gains fail to materialize, companies are caught by surprise. Their digital transformations become digital flops.

To avoid that fate, leaders must understand the six phases of digital adoption so that they can create an environment that provides optimal conditions. This article describes that process phase by phase and shows how planning in reverse can lead to change that sticks. Plenty of articles offer theories about and strategies for digital transformation. This one will help you anticipate and manage the gnarly, often-ignored details that destroy many a well-intentioned plan.


A Noble Purpose Alone Won’t Transform Your Company

Rob Cross, Amy Edmondson, and Wendy Murphy

Many leaders believe that nothing engages and motivates people as much as the larger good they might be doing or the chance to change the world. Accordingly, they extol the higher virtues of their companies’ missions and the meaning of the work they offer. But the authors’ research over the past 20 years reveals that purpose is only one contributing factor to employee engagement; the level and quality of interpersonal collaboration actually has the greatest impact. This article explores why collaboration has that effect and how you can nurture it in your organization to spark change.

First, you must lay a strong foundation of psychological safety and trust. That is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition. Once trust is established, you must instill a sense of purpose — the conviction that the work being done has meaning and impact. And once purpose is established, you must generate energy — a day-to-day enthusiasm within the workforce. The authors have found that 27 leadership behaviors foster trust, purpose, and energy.

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