Last month I was invited to join our Regional office in Singapore and help Asia entities to set the basics of their Digital transformation.
The main goal was to bring awareness on different Digital topics starting from the visible basics, and prepare and assist the newly assigned Heads of Digital for the transformation expected in the coming years.
Towards the Unknown
I found a large diversity of backgrounds. And a certain language barrier, too. Then came the obvious cultural gap of our 16 participants from 7 countries and the trainer (me), added to a local, regional and central point of view in terms of transformation.
Mix it. Shake it… and no need to cross fingers!
Most of our people are willing to support transformation, as long as they understand how this will impact their business and their own activity. Lacking an understanding of simple key basics, and furthermore some tools to monitor those changes will be your major show stopper. This “set the basics” was necessary, and cross-team & cross-business work proved effective.
Availability plays a big role in the success of these changes. Digital is not a part time job, and requires a fully dedicated team – and budget. Having worked with our different Chief Marketing Officers in Asia, trust to allocate the appropriated resources to support Digital acceleration is still a major point of attention.
As a side effect of this first common workshop, we saw that smaller and visible initiatives with tangible results were more likely to be adopted by the management than long and heavy programs. Especially in the Digital where innovation and reactivity are essential, you need to obtain fast buy-in from your potential sponsor by showing smaller and modular initiatives. You will furthermore better manage your risks and budget, take fast decisions on new priorities, and have your CEO to be your best ally.
The adventure continues
After the workshops I started my annual leave by traveling to Hong Kong for a couple of days, and then a whole month backpacking through different regions of China. Here again cultural gap is a huge challenge on my perception of the country. I thought I knew enough Chinese to make myself understood and get what I wanted, but I forgot that people (especially tourist agencies or guides) would have their own goals and not necessarily the means to understand my wishes and willing to align to my expectations.
I believe everything started to work better when one of both parties accepted to indulge the other. I tested a product or service where my risks could be managed (this goes from an unknown dish with strange boiling spicy looking herbs, to a trip up to Shangrila in the Yunnan region under heavy weather conditions). Not only did I gain some trust from my counterparts as I was open to their ideas, but also managed to widen up my Chinese skills as they were the first willing to help me further to understand what they were offering. Risk and trust.
Mix it. Shake it….
Photos above by Hans Sandkuhl – Digital Business Manager & Stylish Backpacker: Square water melon at Honk Kong grocery, chicken man at Lijiang market, Yunnan, China.