Digital Leadership - Essential for KM Success

Posted by Ron Aspe, CEO on 3/1/2016
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McKinsey & Company’s recent podcast, How Companies Become Digital Leaders, raised a number of key points that we can all apply to our own careers. Jay Scanlan, head of McKinsey’s Digital Strategy Practice, states in the podcast, “[companies that are] digital leaders massively outperform digital followers and digital laggards.” This applies equally to knowledge management professionals.

What is your Digital Quotient?

In the podcast, Jay used the term DQ, or Digital Quotient. Although it is mostly applied to companies, I think the concept is equally applicable to individuals. Digital leaders differentiate themselves in three key areas:

  • They have a “strategy and digital initiatives that they’re pursuing”
  • They have the ability to create an “agile culture”
  • They know how to get the “talent, people, processes, structure and systems” to really make a difference

If I’m not a digital leader, what can I do to get there?

Jay and his colleague Paul Willmott, McKinsey Digital global leader, propose that companies and leaders ask three questions:

1) “Who are my competitors in the new world?”

For special librarians and knowledge managers, gatekeeping is a dead strategy. Just ask taxi companies (Uber, anyone?). However, when you leverage your reputation as an established and trusted resource, your content delivery strategy can be every bit as valued - and valuable - as Apple’s music store.

2) “How fast do I need to act?”

That depends on the culture in your organization. Take the temperature of all of your constituents – not just the powerful few, who may be happy with the status quo. The last thing you want is for fast track new hires to consider your KM strategy irrelevant.

3) “Where exactly is the value from digital?”

In the KM world, it’s all about relevance and convenience. “Build on your strengths, develop repeatable, high quality experiences.” Turn the search-for-knowledge paradigm upside down. Find a way for your organization’s knowledge to “find” the people who would benefit from it.

There are a few things digital leaders don’t do:

Jay Scanlan sums this up quite nicely for us. “The first thing they do not do is repurpose huge swaths of people from their existing organization…,” and the “second thing they don’t do is …outsource radically. Instead they actually seem to build the capabilities within themselves..., particularly the strategic ones that are going to differentiate them…”

I definitely recommend this thought provoking podcast; it’s full of ideas that are extremely relevant to today’s library and km leaders.  For now, I’ll leave the last word with Lang Davison, McKinsey’s executive editor, “Not doing anything [about digital leadership] may be the riskiest move all.”

Topics: Knowledge Management, Information Management

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