Thank you for Subscribing to CIO Applications Weekly Brief
Digital Transformation: Breaking Old Habits and Embracing a Growth Mindset
Standish D. Stewart, MS, MBA, is the Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Cuyahoga Community College
Digital transformation can take your organization to a new level of agility, efficiency and productivity, but success is determined by the most important piece of the puzzle: people
Digitally transforming an organization by leveraging new systems and creating electronic workflows has helped increase agility, efficiency and productivity, and it generally frees up employees to focus on tasks that cannot easily be automated. Those who turned to digital tools were able to stay connected — not only with relatives and friends, but also with their doctors, libraries and larger communities. Though it sometimes feels like technology pushes us further apart, it was the glue that kept us together during the height of the pandemic.
As these digital transformations evolved at work and home, IT professionals had a unique opportunity to break out of their comfort zone. Seasoned teammates remember the days when work was handed from silo to silo without significant interest or cross-training.
When the pandemic forced organizations to pivot, their IT departments were key to their survival. In the blink of an eye, IT professionals had to break old habits and embrace a growth mindset. They had to learn new skills, manage new systems and embrace new responsibilities. Ultimately, this technical growth enabled many organizations to weather the storm and helped teams provide broader coverage and support — even when key teammates were out of the office. In the darkest days, this forced growth lit the path toward a new way of learning, supporting and collaborating.
Now that organizations have settled into this new normal, some teammates may be tempted to slide back into their comfortable old silos. Rather than lose the significant progress achieved over the last two years, we must continue to move forward by embracing a few team affirmations as we commit to continuously learning outside of our sandbox:
1. Generalization is a complement to specialization. Learning outside of your main focus area does not diminish your special set of skills; rather, this new knowledge complements your specialization and enables you to lend a hand when teammates are away. You may even discover a new passion by embracing a general understanding of other technology functions.
2. Knowledge experts still play an important role. A common misconception when teammates cross-train across technical areas is the obsolescence of knowledge experts. Nothing could be further from the truth —not only are knowledge experts still relevant, but they can now support their teams via training in addition to problem-solving.
3. There is always time for Learn-Do-Teach. Yes, there is always more work than there are hours in the day. But carving out time to learn a new skill, exercise that skill and teach it to others is worth the investment. When more teammates know how to solve a problem, the easier it becomes for the team to manage high-volume periods.
4. Together, we are unstoppable. Sharing your knowledge with someone else makes the team stronger — and accepting knowledge from your teammates makes you stronger. By exercising both of these muscles, we can clear any hurdle set in our way.
Digital transformation can take your organization to a new level of agility, efficiency and productivity, but success is determined by the most important piece of the puzzle: people. The evolution we experience as individuals is key, but it is easy to revert back to old habits once the initial transformation is complete. Help your team move forward by supporting and encouraging the growth mindset that enabled them to persevere over the last two years. Uncertain situations are bound to arise again, so let’s grow together before the tide turns.