My Pispective on Digital Transformation
(A pispective is where you write about something in 314 words)
As psychologist Daniel Gilbert is often quoted, "disbelieving is hard work." In his original 1991 paper 'How Mental Systems Believe', he concluded,
"People are credulous creatures who find it very easy to believe and very difficult to doubt. In fact, believing is so easy that it may be more like involuntary comprehension than rational assessment."
The profession of management is going through a tough time. We are saved, it would seem, by this interesting creature called 'digital transformation'. There are enough people exchanging this phrase in meaningful conversation that we think there must be something to it.
One of my students remarked the other day that "good strategy can't be reduced to a buzzword if it is to be believed." Wise words. Is 'digital transformation' a strategy? Perhaps. It depends on what you believe digital transformation to be.
According to Niels Pflaeging,
"There's no such thing as a digital transformation. What is currently happening is a continuation of the automatization movement that began in the Industrial age."
What does this mean? It means that digitising analogue processes isn't a transformation. Sure, there has been a change. But not a genuine change of form.
This isn't to say that there isn't a genuine transformation occurring. Because there is. Its where we are shifting (or have shifted, depending on your frame) to the creative economy. John Howkins gave us this term in 2001,
"It is the first kind of economy where imagination and ingenuity decide what people want to do and make. And what they want to buy"
This is a transformation because it is a qualitative shift. Digitising analogue processes is a valid management strategy if we operate in an Industrial economy paradigm, but it isn't a winning strategy if we operate in a Creative economy.
The profession of management has become an exercise in creativity. Don't go to MBA school: go to art class.
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