Senior Client Partner & Managing Director, Digital Practice
Korn Ferry Hay Group, Asia Pacific
Recently, every other conversation I have with a client or a candidate seems to come around to the issue of ‘digital transformation’.
To quote from a whitepaper that we recently published, “It seems everyone’s talking about digital transformation. But at Korn Ferry, we’re talking about something else. We’re talking about digital sustainability. Why? For two reasons. Firstly, because ‘digital transformation’ generally means using technology to drive change. And secondly, because ‘transformation’ tends to imply a one-off process, with a defined end-point.”
If ‘transformation’ is to be defined like this, then ‘sustainability’ should be defined as ‘perpetual transformation’! It cannot be a one-off event. Change is constant and the ability to iterate on an ongoing basis is critical. The digital world is moving increasingly faster and organizations must be prepared to keep up.
Transforming for digital isn’t just a case of deploying technology – replacing legacy infrastructure with new systems. It’s about rethinking how things are done - to achieve this, traditional organizations need to start by fundamentally changing their mindset, values, beliefs and how work gets done.
In my view, digital sustainability can only be achieved through cultural transformation – deploying technology, infrastructure and processes is just “hygiene” – at the end of it, you need the right people with the right mindset to implement and sustain the changes.
Consider this – suppose one could create an eco-system where individuals develop ‘fire-in-the-belly’. This fire burns within and is therefore more difficult to extinguish. This manifests itself on the ground by individuals wanting to drive this change instead of having to. Which further means that individuals are willing to spend their discretionary energy in the interest of the organization.
Discretionary energy is the energy that employees are not obliged to spend in the interest of the organization through an employment contract. This is the time and energy that is available at their disposal, to spend as they please. See more on how to unleash the discretionary energy of your people with Korn Ferry’s Superior Performance Model here.
In my view, it is critical that if the organization needs to drive a change of this magnitude on an ongoing basis, fire must be burning in the bellies of the individuals who are driving this change so that they deploy their discretionary energy for this cause, in addition to excelling at their day jobs.
That is when organizations will become truly digitally sustainable.