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Why a mindset gap is a bigger issue than a digital skills gap

Digital literacy is a big challenge, but we're whistling past the graveyard on a bigger issue


Jack Ma's life should have been a failure. He kept failing in school - twice in primary school, thrice in middle school and thrice at the university entrance exam. Oh, and yes a whole ten times at getting into Harvard. He was rejected by the police force and by ... KFC. The fact that he founded Alibaba and is one of the richest people on earth can be attributed to one simple characteristic - a growth mindset. People with growth mindsets believe they can constantly grow their abilities, whereas those with a fixed mindset believe talent is an innate gift.
This characteristic extends to enterprises as well. Organizations with a growth mindset learn and evolve. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella puts growth mindset at the heart of the new winning corporate culture at his company.

A Digital Mindset?
A digital mindset has precisely the same effect for digital transformation. A MIT Sloan article talks about how a digital mindset gap is a bigger issue than a digital literacy gap. A skills gap can be addressed by training. Growing a mindset is unfortunately a bit trickier.

A mindset gap creates four blind spots - strategy, culture, human capital and personal. We'll look at the importance of three of these here.
1: Strategy:  Digital Transformation is less about Digital Strategy and more about Business Strategy. Successful leaders focus more on how they can personally create a simple vision of technology enabled business models and of digital operations. A mindset of "digital strategy is business strategy" is a huge enabler.

2. Culture: Culture leads to adoption of technology. Therefore organizations that create a digital strategy first and then define an HR/Culture plan of action, might want to rethink. They might be putting the horse behind the cart. The attached link has intriguing insights on cause and effect, including a great differentiation between analog culture and digital culture.

3. Human Capital: Given the importance of human capital in digitization, leaders need a different approach - one that involves more engagement, more empowerment, newer models for learning and better reward systems for experimentation. The mindset needs to think of human capital as a digitization enabler, not as a hindrance.

True, the come-from stage on digital transformation is important. But, it may not be as important as a digital mindset. Without fostering this mindset, the organization could be ignoring deep potholes on the road to transformation i.e. strategy, culture, human capital and personal development. Mindset is key. Ask Jack Ma!

Go forth and transform.


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