The age of digitalisation poses serious challenges to leaders, teams and individuals. Artistic impulses and communities of practice may be key to overcoming these challenges.
Most organisational change management (OCM) initiatives fail because they focus mainly on behaviour and do not take people's emotions and thoughts into account, writes Industry Week in a recent article on OCM. It seems the industrial age and Taylor's principles of scientific management, which put a clear focus on process optimisation and neglect the needs and wants of people, has finally come to an end. In the digital age, 'We need executives with a humanistic education who reconcile the humanities with the natural sciences. People who concern themselves not only with digital transformation and artificial intelligence but also with philosophical, psychological and anthropological issues', says Richard Straub, initiator of the Global Peter Drucker Forum.
The big questions leaders are dealing with in the age of digitalisation include new management style and working culture, innovation, 21st century skills development, staff motivation and retention. How can executives support learning workers so that they can tap their full potential and develop their skills as they move? How can human-machine teams communicate and collaborate efficiently? And how can leaders make sure individuals do meaningful work that has an impact on the world?
We are what we do
'Well-being is the key to keeping employees motivated', postulates The Guardian. Occupational health experts promise a positive impact on staff engagement and retention in return for enticing perks like yoga, healthy food and appropriate working times. These benefits and conditions are clearly important to successful organisations and well functioning societies. At the end of the day, however, people need to identify with what they do. They need to get the opportunity to use their skills and do meaningful work that effects change in their real-world environment. And they need to stay competitive in a world where machine intelligence threatens to outsmart humans.
We need more poetry in business
Introducing more poetry into business and taking people's emotions and ideas into account might be an important aspect when it comes to organisational change initiatives, innovation, and skills development. Artistic impulses can help 21st century leaders to put people center stage again - by triggering their emotions, thoughts and creativity, by opening up new ways of thinking and by pushing ideas that eventually can lead to innovation. Communities of practice (CoP) can provide an ideal environment for exploring new ways of doing and support both, executives and staff in defining their new roles, in planning concrete actions and in taking the necessary steps to make progress. No less important, in professionally moderated CoP people can identify with what they do. This is how they will tap their full potential, be recognised for their skills, and commit themselves.