Digital transformation – for good reason, since companies have understood that this is not just a trendy topic, but an absolute necessity in order to survive in the market in the future.
Some companies are full of drive and have already drawn up their digital roadmaps and are in the process of implementing them. Others have taken more time. But let’s be honest, this was certainly not always entirely voluntary. In view of Corona, many companies had no choice but to send their employees to work within their own four walls. For this reason alone, the digital transformation has reached a whole new dimension. The challenge here is: How quickly can a company transform its entire infrastructure and drive innovation as a team under these tougher conditions?
And in the beginning there was this… – decentralized working
The foundation for good decentralized team collaboration starts with creating a level playing field for everyone. This includes a fast Internet connection that can also easily handle video conferencing, as well as a well-furnished work environment with a desk and equally good camera, microphone and lighting. Furthermore, fixed core working hours during which all team members are available. However, these basics are not nearly enough to be truly productive. The new way of working requires a culture based on trust and solidarity. The innovative “mindset” includes, for example, the employer’s focus on results instead of presence. Because that’s the only way to move the entire team forward. But how do you create such a corporate culture, especially in an established company?
The most important prerequisites for an innovative corporate culture
Above all, it is the task of management to sensitize the workforce to the digital transformation. If a team member has a fundamental problem with decentralized work, for example, he or she quickly ends up on the sidelines. This awareness is raised, for example, with the help of digital learning journeys, which bring different ways of working closer and explain them. During such a learning journey, the agile methods of collaboration are explained step by step and the practical application is learned through visits to young startups that already have the innovative “mindset” virtually in their DNA.
By explaining the working methods of young start-ups, the participants understand why the focus should be on the result, and not on the presence of each individual. Transparency in communication also makes decisions within the team comprehensible and contributes decisively to actually achieving the expected result.
Once the course has been set and the team has been sensitized, managers must be able to transfer a high degree of personal responsibility to their team members. And this includes the ability to motivate themselves and the team. In the long term, what leadership in a company exemplifies, promotes, and also demands will also be what essentially constitutes the lived culture.
7 Tips for successfully leading innovative teams:
- As a manager, invest a lot of time in your team in the first few months
- Invite your team to workshops at regular intervals that focus on team building and skill development
- Set regular dates for internal meetings
- Host events to foster interpersonal connections
- Agree on response times for everyone on the team for certain processes, such as responding to requests
- Document results and processes systematically and consistently
- Determine who reports to whom, who informs whom, who has access to which files and who is responsible for what
Important: Highlight company guidelines and principles for decentralized teams and make them present. Transparency, teamwork, and customer centricity are principles for any company that wants to innovatively drive digital transformation.
Just because the digital transformation is progressing in the company does not mean that innovations will come all by themselves. It is not processes or new technology – it is people alone who develop innovative solutions, products and services. Accordingly, it is people with their individual attitudes, skills and knowledge that make the difference. If these people are not supported and challenged, the innovations driven by the digital transformation will also fail to materialize.
So in order to be successful as a company in the long term, a balance must be struck between the economic, ecological and social aspects in which a company operates. Time has shown that the successful innovation champions are sustainable – economically, ecologically, socially. In these companies, the integration of digital transformation and the development of innovations are precisely not a product of chance, but the result of a balanced combination of philosophy and mission.
If you want to innovatively drive digital transformation in your company, you have to think first and foremost about the people who work in your company. Working together as a team, step by step, we must not only initiate the cultural change, the different way of thinking and acting, but also continuously develop, optimize and drive it forward. In doing so, managers are particularly called upon to take into account economic, ecological and social aspects. Many companies have already taken the first step, sometimes unintentionally. Decentralized teamwork should be seen and used as an opportunity to start a process of change. Only change moves us humans forward in all aspects of life, creates innovation in companies and thus secures our future.
Authors: Inga Schmidt and Christoph Blase