Digital innovation is happening at a faster pace than ever before—and that means organizations are under more and more pressure to build digital assets that enable this innovation. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, business leaders say their No. 1 critical priority is accelerating the shift to digital business, according to 2021 Forrester research. Digital assets are the essential tools that every business needs to operate in a modern marketplace, where customer preferences and expectations never stay constant. With the right combination of digital assets, of course, businesses can lower costs, improve time to market, and streamline and automate their workflows.
To build best-in-class digital assets, many business leaders default to simply throwing resources at digital transformation initiatives and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, this passive approach doesn’t work: Leaders must personally and proactively work to create the type of workplace environment where a spirit of continuous digital innovation thrives. Let’s explore five fundamental strategies for fostering workplace innovation and ensuring digital assets get built that are truly transformative:
Get rid of hierarchical decision-making
In most organizations, decision-making tends to be concentrated at the top, where ideas and projects must flow upward to get approvals and sign-offs. The problem with this structure is that it necessarily limits innovation: Hierarchical decision-making is inefficient and—although unintentional—it dampens and even kills essential forward momentum. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the far superior option is to spread decision-making power across all levels of the organization. Unquestionably, there are more likely to be failures and mistakes, but these bumps in the road are part of the process of digital innovation.
Empower teams to take risks and make mistakes
Many teams are too scared to take major risks with digital innovation because they don’t want to fail. This concern is valid: Many organizations look favorably at success stories and unfavorably at failures. Digital innovation, however, requires a very different mindset. It is only through taking risks and repeated failures that an organization can figure out how to build digital assets that are truly transformational.
Enable teams to make decisions based on what’s right for the customer
Bureaucracy and internal politics can derail optimal decision-making in every organization, and these forces are especially disruptive for digital transformation initiatives. Too often, teams that know exactly how to do right by customers are essentially thwarted and blocked from implementing their ideas and projects by forces outside their control. While there is no magic pill for combatting bureaucracy and internal politics, it is important to be aware of these destructive forces—and to foster a workplace culture that enables the best ideas to consistently rise to the top.
Create expectations that teams will work together
Digital innovation is dependent on not just one team’s skills and ideas but the entire organization’s. Every team has a different way of thinking and sees both opportunities and challenges from a different perspective. When these teams are explicitly brought together and told to work together, it sets up a robust exchange of ideas and feedback that is necessary to hasten digital innovation. Moreover, when teams work together, they see how the digital assets they’re building will need to interact and integrate with multiple areas of the business.
Give teams best-in-class tools to enable innovation
Best-in-class digital assets can only be built, updated, and expanded upon with help from best-in-class tools. Fortunately, these tools are becoming increasingly accessible to organizations of all sizes and industries. Salesforce, for example, gives organizations instant access to a wide array of best-in-class tools for supporting the development of digital assets—everything from enabling collaboration to developing custom apps to managing organizational change.
To build digital assets at maximum speed and efficiency, organizations must be prepared to fundamentally rethink how they manage, support, and empower their teams. These leadership changes start with getting rid of hierarchical decision-making, letting teams know that it’s OK to make mistakes and fail, ensuring teams can implement their ideas for how to more effectively serve customers, creating expectations that siloed teams will work together, and enabling innovation by providing best-in-class tools.
If you’re interested in learning more about how leaders within an organization can set up their teams to build optimized digital assets, please reach out to the digital transformation specialists at Simplus. We’d love to show you how to put in place the processes, frameworks, and tools that will supercharge your digital transformation capabilities.