At its best, digitization enables completely new ways of working and creating value, but technology does little good alone – in fact in worst cases it may hinder your productivity – unless organizations take on a brave outlook on how technology relates to culture and new ways of doing things. Visionary speaker Teemu Arina touched upon these issues at his Keynote presentation at Divia - Digital Business Network.
Arina reminds us that for organizations, technology is often a Trojan Horse. New technology is seen as a gift that will solve all problems, but if we do not make an effort to change our ways of working, we soon find ourselves slaves to the system.
“The internet changed our world and with that wave of change, the rise of social media gave the creative class entirely new ways of reaching out, sharing and working together. Although work in creative industries and many professional fields has changed for good, we must remember that there is no history, no experience to rely on as a reference point. In traditional communication there was always a sender and a receiver. Digitization allows us to break these patterns and come up with new ways to communicate and relate to each other. In social media we often have a sender but no knowledge of whom the receiver may be, who will take part in the discussion and who will contribute,” Arina lists.
Everyone can be agile
Arina emphasizes culture as a key prerequisite for successful digitization of work: “It is a myth that large organizations cannot be agile: They can change, grow and learn constantly, just as startups do if they know how to organize and shape new ways of value creation – and keep the new initiatives out of the hands of bureaucrats and those only interested In short-term gain.”
“Look at IBM in Finland, their Growth Room – Kasvuhuone – and people working as internal entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs. Look at all the organizations taking on Scrum to iterate their product development processes, or the classic example of Zappos, where everyone at the company starts out at the customer service no matter what job they will engage themselves with later. In my Keynote presentation this April at DiViA, I will share stories of companies that truly challenge our notions of how work gets organized.”
“Did you know Zappos is getting rid of management and moving on to a cellular, holacratic organization? Have you heard of the Dutch design firm that reinvented retirement? They took our age-old pattern of career development followed by retirement, split up the retirement into short chunks and distributed those along the walks of life, to give people a break to think and replenish their ideas. They close down their business every other year to allow their staff to come up with new offerings for their customers. These organizations are truly challenging old ideas and how work gets organized.”
Old rituals must go
Arina reminds us that organizations are more willing to invest in new technology, but less willing to change their traditions and belief-systems.
“We cannot hold on to ancient rituals, work as we have always worked and expect major breakthroughs. Take corporate meetings as an example. They really have not changed much at all, even though we have some slight new adjustments, such as involving someone over video. Most meetings are held because people lack the information they need to complete their tasks. Like a form of theater, the outcome of a meeting is no decisions at all other than to set up yet another meeting. This is highly inefficient. With the right presence tools and increasing communication, we can significantly decrease the time spent on face-to-face meetings and make the meetings we held much more meaningful,” Arina explains.
Ownership of productivity
In the industrial age, management was keen on measurement and performance indicators. Employees tended to do whatever it takes to improve their score. Yet in fields such as programming, productivity is neither linked to hours spent at the office nor lines of code generated. One great programmer can do the work of ten or even a hundred, in the right conditions. Often these conditions are established by providing the freedom and shared responsibility for individuals to act upon.
In essence, measurement is as important as ever, but from a slightly different angle building from the bottom-up. Arina plans on touching upon the topics of quantified self and biohacking in his Keynote presentation as well:
“I’m an example, the ultimate guinea pig. I built a calendar that tracks everything I do. If something is missing, I’ve installed sensors that can capture even the most obscure behavior, like if I’m sitting or standing and whether I’ve been to the toilet or not. I have automatic data capture to see how many hours I slept, what my sleep patterns were like, when I went to work and which transportation I used, what documents I edited, how many meetings I attended, if I spoke at an event, what I did after work, how stressed I was, etc.”
“In the long run I see patterns. What makes my stress levels go up? Have I been more efficient working from the office or from my home? What daily routines make me better at my work and what result in the opposite? Biohacking is fascinating when we look at productivity and boosting creativity at work from the bottom-up – but ownership is a crucial issue here, this information must be controlled by the individual, otherwise we will be in big trouble,” Arina underlines.
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