Your collaborators are already digital and they don’t know it yet

José Luis Rodríguez

15 September 2016

When talking about a company’s digital competencies, it’s customary that the first image that often comes to mind is that of a fuzzy group with quasi- magical technical capabilities, which are within reach of only a reduced group of sages, and our internal collaborators.

Many departments and managers in charge of training employees are ready to arm their employees with courses that include Words like Web, digital, and electronic are a ubiquitous presence in their titles to mitigate this gap. In general, this bet seems to work in the short term: there’s a high demand for students, good instructor evaluations, and the shared sensation that the organization is initiating a new era.

The bad news comes the day they discover that the company remains exactly in the same place with their internal collaborators, now shining in the tool and the latest behavioral dynamic trend, that they were before. It’s like this because, in fact, nothing meaningful has changed: resources are assigned just like before, teams remain organized in the same way, and the decisions are made at the same level.

The organization and its employees have a limited vision of their true potential. Employees, even, exhibit a curious paradox: they behave like digital experts outside of the workplace and, when they enter the office, factory, or workshop, they seem to forget all that baggage.

The solution: more autonomy, more space, and more trust, so collaborators create internal learning networks. At the end of the day, if they’re good at sharing ideas on the Internet, accessing and exchanging services online, and using advanced mobile apps, what other training do they need to be our best change agents?

Digital as the collaborators’ social attitude

The idea is that there’s no universal Allen wrench; a magic potion that digitally transforms every single company equally. The world is effectively living a social and technological revolution; nonetheless, what’s demanded of today’s organizations are not necessarily better machines but rather new questions: those that, in the presence of the speed of change and the consequential loss of control, only people and emotions can respond.

In this sense, we’re talking about digital as an ability to be able to participate in both connected social worlds, and at the same time, as a mentality and series of attitudes that let individuals proactively respond to the needs that have emerged in this new context.

For this, we make the distinction between four work dimensions:

  1. Online Community: Knowledge of the structure and functions of the Internet and the understanding of production, distribution, and the consumption of information processes online.
  2. Connected knowledge: The ability to obtain, evaluate, and use the appropriate information to communicate, work, and learn in the new digital context.
  3. Interactive communication: Capacity to access, understand and generate discussions in one of the numerous settings and capability to create trustworthy relationships.
  4. Emerging technologies: The comprehension of emerging technologies and the ability to apply this knowledge to specific tasks that require the use of these electronic means.

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We have the opportunity to convert collaborators’ skill development into a memorable experience. Let’s start by programming our training programs by telling them that all they need is to rethink their part within the organization and apply what they’re already doing with smartphones with their teams. If we convince them, we will have found the best digital leaders and, at a glance, we will have improved their sense of belonging to the organization.