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Living strategy in the time of Digital disruption

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In today’s VUCA* world, It’s axiomatic that every single leader in every single corner in the world is faced with unprecedented challenges and risks.

On a more global scale; leaders are now plagued with the new markets’ ever faster trajectory of change that spurs financial short-termism, driven by the ever incrementally increasing power of technology and digital disruption. For the past ten years I've been in an industry where people are debating to identify their customers, while navigating the water of engaging customers to build a long term strategy that works. Within this ocean of turbulence the gap between corporations’ increasing needs and the available talent pool is not getting any closer, despite the surplus of knowledge that became available as never before, bolstered by the power of technology that has transformed learning capabilities and quenched its associated cost, turning learning and education into affordable solutions at one’s fingertips. It’s now inevitable to see collaboration a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.


Having realized the imperative of enhancing your organizational competitiveness on a global level, has spurred organizational leaders to work collaboratively with their Information System veterans to migrate from simple international business strategies (home-replication, global business, multidomestic)* strategies to Transnational Strategy, trying to strike a balance between centralization and decentralization of their international operations, enabling knowledge and resource sharing. Such challenging move is realized impossible with effective integration of technology with highly adaptive and living strategy that helps organizations become far more resilient and competitive on a global level.

Sometimes we tend to perceive digital transformation as separable from effective organizational leadership and governance practices, or at least we consider it as an enabler for organizations to practice effective leadership and governance. The true fact about digital thinking is that it is inseparable from innovation, it’s impossible for innovation to exist and sprout while organizational bureaucracy and political squabbles characterize the organizational practices. This kind of dilemma prompts leaders today to think of technology and strategy purposefully as living practices, being agile, responsive, dovetailed and working. Separating technology from strategy and effective organizational practices will certainly turn digital disruption into a burden rather than being an opportunity to transform your business to achieve audacious goals.

Leading corporations are more ready today to break down their business model towards a more responsive and effective one rather than looking for the cliche 20% increase of their annual goals, to ensure that they are performing up to the market speed and needs. Strategies aren’t built to quench organizational possibilities; striving to stick to its boundaries, but to unleash and unlimit its capabilities to respond effectively and resiliently to foreseeable and unforeseeable changes in that ever-changing dynamic world. Thinking of technology as a magic key may turn digital transformational power into destructive tools.

It became axiomatic that technology contributes to making organizations faster through automation, promoting operational and transactional efficiency, but to realize the power of digital transformation; technology has to be aligned effectively with your strategy to make your organization more agile and resilient, through advancing your organizational learning practices. In order for an organization to revive its strategy, it needs to ensure effective learning practices are in place, embarked on transparency, accessibility and the power of sharing knowledge immediately to modify and enhance processes and models upon changing or arising needs.

For better understanding of the dilemma of aligning strategy with technology; you might need to think of the power of sharing knowledge as an enabler, this power is just a burden if the organization failed to develop a shared vision or purpose. How can people benefit from this power while conflicts prevail, political squabbles are deemed acceptable and attitude problems are tolerable?

“Can you imagine, for example, a firm trying to deploy a Web-based order entry system that enables customers to access inventory information directly, when people in that firm do not even share such information with each other?” - Joseph Valacich, Christoph Schneider - Information systems today, 5th edition - prentice hall (2011)

The only way to make the best of disruption is to become your industry disruptor; the following steps are emanated from a process outlined by Christensen (2003) in his book The Innovator’s Solution, Christensen has called his process the Disruptive Growth Engine;

1- Collaboratively build a resilient strategy (built to serve); ensure that your strategy isn’t oblivious of any of your critical business areas, and has been built not only to serve your organizational success but with interest for your vendors, employees, customers, partners, and the wider community. If your strategy is built to serve, you will easily respond effectively to any changes in order to ensure best service is delivered to all parties, with all parties are ready to help and support. A win-win mentality is always a key for sustainable collaborative relationships.  

2- Start early; make the process of identifying, tracking and adopting disruptive innovation your organizational norm. Develop a transformer mentality rather than being a follower. 

 3- Foster dialogic conversations across all levels; learn from the giants who left in a blink of an eye; let information, knowledge, ideas and thoughts flow seamlessly across all levels. Challenge your employees to think and put their ideas into practice. Reward intelligent failures; those failures will be your biggest achievements soon. Grow courageous employees who are certain that there is always someone who listens.

 4- Executive Leadership; visible and credible leadership is critical to bridge sustaining and disruptive product and service development. Executives who are serious about using technology purposefully in innovative ways, challenge and inspire their people to be always on the lookout for disruptive innovations that have a significant impact not limited to their business but the whole industry.

 5- Build your organization around teams; teams are considered the main building block for any successful organization at least in the foreseeable future, where innovation is now deemed a collaborative effort. There are several types of teams, it isn't uncommon now to see most organizations having cross-functional teams assembled for critical projects that have a great impact on the future of those organizations.

6- Educate your organization; to see and realize opportunities earlier, those who are closest to customers and competitors need to learn how to identify disruptive innovations. 

In such complex and ever-changing world, accepting change became inevitable as a must-have mentality, while anticipating it is a strategy and leading change is difficult to avoid. Let your strategy breathe change with technology as your oxygen supply.  

 Another question that we might tackle in future discussions; “To spur disruptive innovation; should we start with strategy and align technology with it or with technology and build strategy around it?”


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  • 26 July Mehwar Road intersection with Wahat Road, 6th October City. Egypt.
  • 38371517 - 38371518
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