Anyone who has read business administration at the university can testify the vast amount of management books one has to read in able to pass the courses. My reflections after working for a few years I can say they are all full off bullshit. Pardon my language but the models and theories presented in these books are so complicated that I think you have no use of them in real life.
I just read a book about the secret of companies that excel in business and it brought me back to my academic years. This book was trying to identify the main factors for successful companies. To make a long story short you the time one can say it is a mixture of management style, strategy, right focus and a bit of luck.
From my experience what most of these books teach us is common sense. The absolutely most important thing for successful companies, according to my opinion, is to understand what your are good at and why. When you understand this you have the core of your success. Building on this will excel you to long-term happiness. You can illustrate it like an onion. The core is where you start thereafter you need to build layers around the core. Many companies do the mistake to start things far away from the core, which is a real gamble.
Understanding your core is in many ways harder that people think. Usually it sits with the founder of the company and when he leaves there is a real risk of loosing this insight if he has not passed on this knowledge. For example Steve Jobs understood this and tried to pass it on to Tim Cook. The founder of IKEA is planning to retire and has tried for many years to build a culture, which reflect his values. Let us see to whom he will pass it on to, his sons?
Leading people is not easy, but it is also much harder if you do not understand why you have succeeded.
I have had the priviledge to attend one of the beter leadership training courses in Sweden. This training course is rather famous in Sweden and is called UGL (Utveckling Grupp Ledarskap). UGL was developed by the swedish military to teach sergants and other decission makers how to understand group dynamics and how to get the most out of your team. After attending this course I have started seeing my team with different eyes.
My reflections touches mainly the power of dynamics between team members and the importance of having a clear path as a leader.
Since the digital space is fast paced and demands your team members to constantly upgrade their competence this puts a lot of stress on you as a team member and leader to be clear, precise and basically all over the place. I also think that a digital manager have to constantly be updated on the general develpment. For example you need to know how mobile affects your business model and how social media is evolving and what all this means for your team and resources.
There are a couple of ways to respond to this as a leader but the most important is seing your collegues as chess pieces. I mean that in the most positive way. As the digital space evolve you want to be strategically placed correctly. Move you team in the right direction. This is of course easier said than done but when you get the thinking you will be in a very good place.
So, would you say that you work in a digital company? I have now had experience with purely digital companies and non digital companies. With purely digital I mean companies that their entire business model is born in the digital world, like Spotify or Zalando.
There is a big difference working for purely digital companies and companies that try to get into the digital space. As we devolp our digital presence I have found three key difference between the two business models.
- Digital businesses are rigged to be digital. Nondigtal have to transform themselves which is a major task. To transform your business is probably one of the hardest parts. Ask Nokia or Kodak. Both giants in their fields with extremely bright people in the organisation but both of them did not manage to transform themselves into the digtial space. To throw money on consultants and technology is not enough which brings me to my next point.
- Digital businesses have digital leadership. The leadership have vast knowledge in the power of the technology and the pitfalls. Non digital companies struggle to understand how to take full advantage of technology. The digital landscape is constantly change and the pace is picking up. This means you need to invest heavily in technology and people.
- Fast and smart. The bigger the company the more complex everything is and this slows you down. But in the same time if you put your main platform in place you can rigg yourself to be a leader in the market instead of follower. You have to be smart enough to see the major trends consumer adopt. Facebook, Google and Apple are extremly good at this although they are hugh companies with hugh organisations. Non digital organistations have a much slower development cycle since their business has been ”slow”.
Of course digital businesses come and go, so being in the forefront is not a guarantee to survive. A lot also depends on timing but one thing is for sure. The digitalisation of our society touches all businesses, even lotteries.