Follow me organization or who is he, a leader of digital transformation

Continuing the previously begun theme that digital transformation today is a critically significant factor necessary for the survival of any small competitive organization, I would like to single out business management as the most important subject of transformation, in other words, without the digital transformation of thinking, the views of leaders and ceos, the success of the entire project will be doomed.

A striking example of such changes for IT-industry product companies is the transition to the Open-Source model, which previously produced proprietary software.

The main principle is the clear opposite of the traditional approach for development companies, which is based on the so-called vendor lock-in system – a business model that establishes the direct dependence of the consumer on the products and services of one supplier, intentionally creating complications for a change of supplier due to the high cost of the transition.

The concept of open IT ecosystems has been gaining momentum in the recent years, and the term “Open Source” has become increasingly popular in the IT retail segment.

Unfortunately, for commercial IT retail in Ukraine, such examples are quite rare, that due to the fact that they require a considerable share of courage from the management to implement the experience of such digital business models, and perhaps the willingness to make a number of radical personal changes in order to become more open.

Not only the ITmarket is an active participant in the digital transformation in Ukraine, but also almost all major telecom companies, agribusinesses and banks (as an example Raiffeisen Bank Aval), the energy sector (e.g.  DTEK) аnd metallurgy (Metinvest Digital).

Metinvest CEO Digital Sergey Detuk is quoted by Interfax Ukraine: “Digital transformation is not only the introduction of technology, but also, first of all, a change in corporate culture”.

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Olga Ustinova, CEO of Vodafone Ukraine, admits that the pandemic has greatly impacted and strengthened her company’s digital projects. “When the situation changes every day, it is impossible to make predictions even for tomorrow: such predictions and mathematical models no longer work. Only time will tell which decisions were right and which were not. Now we are questioning any solution, analyzing information, trying to find a balance between business results and security.”

The fact that the current time is a time of major organizational transformations in the leadership environment has long ago been said by researchers Tim Ellis, founder and CEO of the educational project The Digital Transformation People and Ben Bryant, Professor of Leadership at the Lausanne Institute for Management  Development.

In general, Tim Ellis cites the example, the path to self-transformation begins with self-awareness, and then starts to understand some of the paradoxes that are the essence of rather rigid tenets of leadership. For example, the flip side of experience makes a leader more and more self-confident in his judgments. Which leads to the fact that his team begins to look for the right answers from him, losing the ability of introspection.

For a successful transformation, it is important for a leader not to be seduced by the sense of significance of his surroundings. Try to get an answer to the question – are your team members really ready to be responsible and  self-reliant?

Tim Ellis points out: it is a fairly common mistake to try to influence the opinion of specific team members using an advisory approach, which is essentially manipulation, that as a result leads to a loss of trust and interest of all project participants in their leader.

The second theme of the digital transformation path, which manifested itself in the responses of managers, was to immerse in the complexity of specific leadership situations. Some leaders admitted that they had learned how to transform themselves by exploring the most painful team and organizational experience.

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For the process of transformation of leaders often not only fear arises, but also rejection, others can negatively assess their leader.

However, the experience of a successful manager states that there are no easy ways for any digital transformation. Understanding the experience of other companies helps leaders overcome their fears and fears of failure, which ultimately leads to a productive, useful and a very honest experience of their own transformation.

Another general conclusion about the path of personal transformation of leaders – organizations are not created for authenticity. No matter how much the challenge is to find the digital truth as such, cooperation with other ambitious and talented people carries risks of passive aggression, unfounded fears and provocative situations.

Learning how to use these reactions to turn things around for the better is a key transformational experience for any leader, the researchers suggest.

The third theme of personal transformation that arose from communication with managers was to combat the power of habits – whether it was the assessment of the usual environment or spreadsheets, processes or roles. It is important to understand that people tend to depend on the material in the course of life, so the personal transformation here is the realization what is superfluous and what you need to get rid of.

Many managers-leaders admit: they used to consider themselves as rather resilient people, ruthlessly pushing and encouraging people around them to act harder, ignoring failures. After all, personal transformation as a leader was also about abandoning some deep-rooted assumptions about the need for victory and achievement, because the resilience and reliability of a leader is not so much about managing people, but about seeing a broader goal, holding it, filling it with meaning and…. letting go.

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A transformational leader is a person who dives into the process, turning him into means of carrying out his own transformation. Such leaders make choices about what they want to explore, comprehend, and let go. Growth is inevitable, but transformation is always a voluntary choice. After all, it is much more difficult to change other people than yourself.                                  

Returning to examples of the transformation of IT-companies, the Open-Source approach, although rare in Ukraine still shows examples of its application. For example, when developing a platform for the domestic telecom giant Kyivstar, the mef.dev team decided to switch to an open joint development process and provide the customer with access to the source code so that Kyivstar could further develop and integrate the BSS solution on its own.

The management of the Ukrainian company NATEC R&D believes that the willingness to change, to make decisions that look at first glance unusual, but, at the same time, gives more freedom in the relationship with the customer, allows to move to a completely different level of relations with the client, and gives an opportunity not only to implement larger, longer-term and complex projects, but also to positively influence the partnership between the companies.