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October 19, 2021 - No Comments!

In Conversation With Nathan SV, Chief Talent Officer, Deloitte on Building Digital Fluency

building digital fluency

The Challenge Is Not the Mindset, but the Set Mind

Nathan SV, Partner & Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte, on Shaping Digital Mindsets!

In an exclusive panel discussion with KNOLSKAPE, Nathan SV, Chief Talent Officer, Deloitte India, shares his thoughts on building digital fluency, shaping mindsets, and bringing about a cultural change in the context of Deloitte. 

Meet Nathan SV:

Nathan is the partner and Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte, India. He is a member of the India leadership team and serves on the talent executive leadership of Deloitte, Asia Pacific. 

Nathan carries with him over 30 plus years of experience in HR management across diverse industries. In addition, he has recently been appointed as the president of NHRD Network. 

Rajiv: How do you define and measure digital fluency in your organization? 

Nathan SV: Competence, agility, strategic use of technology for growth - personal or organizational - very output-oriented, improving skills, and excellent service for customers- Digital fluency is all about tying these aspects to bring about a very high digital quotient in your workforce, organizational operations, infrastructure, and most importantly, building the culture.

Rajiv: What does digital fluency mean in the context of Deloitte?

Nathan SV: We believe that digital fluency is a combination of people, clients, and processes. When it comes to our clients, we aim to make them more successful in their marketplace. As much as we can, we help our clients increase footfalls into their businesses. 

And for our people, it's a lot about satisfaction- being happy at work. We’re moving away from typical, “Hey, have you done this?” to “It’s okay to do something wrong”.  

So, in a nutshell, digital fluency for us is moving away from control to strategy, innovation, and experience!

Rajiv: How do you build this level of awareness within senior leadership?

Nathan SV:  We have a governing board. The governing board is quite intrigued by what is happening with digital fluency.  

So, whatever we do at Deloitte is seen through the lens of people and clients. Because these are the 2 major markets we serve. 

We started to look at how we really delegate? 

How do we move away from delegation to empowerment? We need our people to be empowered. And we need this because 85% of Deloitte's workforce today is millennials. So we said we need to have a millennial partner at the leadership level. And her only job is to make sure that all the aspirations of millennials-strategy, execution, and everything we do in the area of operations are through the lens of how a millennial would see it, and experience it. 

Therefore, bringing it all together and making sure the innovation happens. 

We have a Chief Innovation Officer. Because young people lead companies, his only job at the end is making sure you leave it in their hands. So a whole host of things have been done. And all this happened in the last 18 months. 

Also, KRA’s- We believe that we need to have goals for our people, particularly our leaders, because if they don't get it, the way a millennial would get it, it’s wasteless. Governance definitely needs to be right for the change to happen. 

Rajiv: So many companies are losing their path in the digital age. Any guidelines in terms of things that have worked or haven't worked? What are some mindsets you're looking to build in your organization?

Nathan SV:  Our problem is not really about the mindset, it’s about the set mind. How do we change that, especially when organizations are decades old? For example, my organization is 175 years old. In India, it's 125 years old. 

But then, if you have a whole bunch of people who are thinking one side and moving one side and you have another set of people who are part of the leadership thinking differently- How do you make sure everyone is on the same page? 

The pandemic has been a fantastic teacher. Speed, the art of the possible.

It's about how do we make things easy? Secondly, we got to find ways that we forcibly use things like empowering. And you got to move out of delegation. 

Anytime you ask this question- Is there a better way digitally? You’ll come across “the art of the possible”.

The innovation mindset does not come automatically. It gently will have to be pushed.

People will have to be recognized and rewarded for their ideas. You’ll have to showcase all of this. You can have several hackathons- At one end. At the other end, you got to find our leaders who can just change their set mind of letting go. Instead, we need to have open and honest communication around what's working and what's not working. 

You don't have to go and teach people this whole art of collaboration. And last but not the least, acknowledging that we are not the know-alls. We don't know enough, we need help. As long as you are transparent, honest, and open about this, you will notice that this whole idea about the set mind is slowly changing. 

taylor and francis case study clog image

Rajiv: In the spirit of learning, what's the one thing you do to keep up with the latest happenings in the digital world? 

Nathan SV: Listening to others and reading is what opens me to new perspectives. 

Our next speaker in the series is Sainursalwa Sani, Group Chief Human Capital Officer at SME Bank Malaysia. Be sure to keep an eye out for some interesting key takeaways from our conversation!

 Meanwhile, you can watch the full webinar recording below. 

October 12, 2021 - No Comments!

Building Digital Fluency: In Conversation With Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo Group India

digital fluency in the workplace

Meet Amit Sharma:

Amit Sharma is the Vice President, HR, and a member of the Country Management Team for Volvo Group India. In a career spanning more than two decades, he has worked across various HR roles in leading organizations such as Indian Oil, Johnson and Johnson, Philips, and TE Connectivity

He has a deep focus on business HR, and his experience spans across Talent Acquisition, Management, OD, and Culture. And he is a proponent of bringing technology to HR processes while retaining the human connection in the organization. He's been a recipient of various industry recognitions too. 

Let’s get started. 

Rajiv: How do you define and measure digital fluency in your organization? 

Amit Sharma: I would kind of juxtapose digital fluency with knowing a language, where one not just needs to know the vocabulary, but only how it is spoken and written   I believe the entire concept of digital fluency boils down to the question: Do we have the wisdom to apply technology most efficiently? Not just knowing how the tools work, but also applying them at the proper time should be the main goal. 

Rajiv: What impact does digital fluency have on your business? How would you articulate it in terms of business metrics?

Amit Sharma:  I think automotive is one of the industries which is getting impacted with the central concept of what we call - Connected, Autonomous and Electric. 

It is no longer about IC engine standard products. We are moving into a zone of  connected solutions & autonomous solutions, and a good example would be Vera, our autonomous truck because that's something which is completely moving through a control tower mechanism without having any driver's seat. 

The future for us is around digital, around electric, that's where the industry is moving. 

And that is also leading to better safety in our  products. Digital vehicles, which are more connected, autonomous, safer- the margin of human error really comes down there. And this entire concept of connected autonomous vehicles is actually leading  to about 70% lower energy costs, 40% lower  operations cost at about 98% lower carbon emission. 

Hence, moving from mechanical to connected and digital devices benefits both the environment and the customer.

Rajiv: How do you ensure this whole idea of connected, autonomous, and electric cascades and people get ready for the future?

Amit Sharma: I think, a couple of layers in this- Firstly, this is being propagated by the leadership across all levels- meetings, town halls, at our global summits! We’re talking the same language and I think that's very critical whenever you are bringing in a new dimension in an organization, which was earlier not part of it. 

The only way you can bring it into your daily vocabulary is when the leaders start talking about it. 

Our first initiative is to use the same language throughout all forums. 

Secondly, we’ve kind of changed. We used to have a function, GROUP-IT which is now renamed as DIGITAL. Even the Chief Information Officer is now called the Chief Digital Officer.  

It may look semantic but also spreads a message to the organization that we are moving on from core IT, i.e. creating some software or creating some local tools to a different way of working. People are also aware of the fact that the change is more than just a different title. It represents a fundamental shift in thinking and philosophy altogether. 

And this digital function (earlier IT function) which was once a separate vertical is now getting embedded in the businesses. There is no longer a separate vertical because we believe- Digital is the way forward!

We're leveraging the digital for the future, which is why all management teams in all countries, including India, are being challenged to think differently.

One of my senior staff members understands this and cascades it throughout the team. We also refer to it as the seven top strategic objectives globally. So one of the keys of those seven is digital. 

That’s how we are doing a very comprehensive game in which we are really adopting, right from the level of talking about it to embedding it in the business.

Rajiv: What sort of methodologies are you embracing to move more towards digital fluency? Can you shed some light on how you are going about embedding those methodologies within the organization?

Amit Sharma: The key here is that we’re not viewing it from a process perspective but an outcome perspective. And from an outcome perspective, apart from making a customer impact, how do we ensure our customers succeed? How do we really get them to save their costs? How do we really get them to have better efficiencies? How do we really get them to ensure a lower footprint? So the entire focus for us is around it. And when you have that as a larger purpose, then it doesn't really matter what are the methodologies used, because that's something which comes naturally to people in terms of various tools which are there, but the outcome is very critical here. 

For instance, In India, we launched Camp X about a week ago. Now Camp X is one of our global innovation centers. It was initially set up in our headquarters in Sweden, and India is the second site globally to have it. 

The goal of Camp X is to leverage the digital and innovation platforms together. Now, this will be a part of an Indian technology center. Last week, the Swedish investor inaugurated the project. Our goal is to have people come together, sit together, collaborate, and think about how we can really make a better impact on the customer and the environment via digital - that's the credo behind setting all of that. So that's something which we have recently done.

digital reset at mindtree

Rajiv: Would you like to share any lessons on digital change management?

Amit Sharma: We started our journey in digital somewhere in the early part of last decade itself and that's the reason by the middle of the last decade, we could really launch various autonomous products. From autonomous buses to autonomous trucks to even having the self-driving refuse truck for urban areas, a truck which is autonomously moving minds, moving the material over there. So that's how we started. 

Now, if you ask me, what was the change management provided behind it? I’ll go back to what I initially said: you have to look at it from an outcome perspective, not a process perspective. Because if it’s process perspective, it is not going to succeed. People are very sharp, they will always find ways to bypass a process and switch to something which makes them more comfortable. And the concept of the line of least resistance follows or goes everywhere. 

However, once you have an objective in mind, everyone knows that we must achieve it. So for us, change management is part of the process of launching a product like this. Our entire journey was driven by outcomes. 

Rajiv: How do you sharpen your learning quotient?

Amit Sharma: Reading for me is a critical aspect of input gathering since it opens the mind up to perspectives and gives a better understanding of the world around me. 

Stay tuned for the 4th part where we’ll have Nathan SV, Partner & Chief Talent Officer at Deloitte address the topic in the context of Deloitte. 

Meanwhile, you can watch the full webinar recording below. 

September 22, 2021 - No Comments!

Digital Fluency: Why it Matters in the Era of Disruption?

If we can’t understand digital clearly, there is no way we can master it

Rajiv Jayaraman- Founder, CEO- KNOLSKAPE, Author of Clearing the Digital BLUR Book


A thoughtful digital transformation isn’t a one-off event. It’s a ceaseless process that requires constant iterations to align and evolve. 

The digital age is upon us- Right from technologies to workplaces and people to processes, everything is going through digital shifts. 

But for the real transformation to happen, businesses need to wholeheartedly embrace “Knowing”, “Doing” “Becoming” and “Being” Digital.

While organizations are catching up with the pace of digital transformation, the clarity around "digital" still remains unclear.

How Do You Define Digital Fluency? 

We had the opportunity to interact with industry experts and hear their insights on the matter!

A few excerpts from the conversation:

digital mindset

"Digital fluency is an essential advanced skill. It is not just important for an organization, but also its people and processes. To thrive in this digital age, businesses must fully embrace digital.”

- Raja Ahmad Hidzir Raja Muhamad - Head of Human Resources & Administration - Air Selangor.

digital skills

“Digital fluency is making the best use of technology to solve new challenges. Employees at our company are using Digital Skills Index to identify their skill gaps and area of expertise.”

Emeya Lee - Director, People, and Culture, Roche

digital talent

“Digital fluency is for every person - not just the tech department. It is the fluency or the combined efforts of people around me, around my team to capitalize on digital technology, which will give us a competitive advantage.” - Clayton, Ju Chiae Tan - Sr. GM, Head of OD, Sunway Group

Why Is Digital Fluency Important?

As digital pervades into every aspect of the business, digital fluency is a skill that everyone in the organization must possess.

As mentioned by Emeya, “In Roche, we are using the Digital Skills Index to assess the strengths, weaknesses and improvement areas of their employees.”

To make their employees digital-ready, organizations like Roche have begun investing in employee’s skill sets. They do an internal assessment to analyze the gaps and problem areas, and how these can be retouched using digital.

This will enable both employees and the organization to gear up for the forthcoming obstacles. 

What Impact Does Digital Fluency Have On a Business?

Digital, being a cultural change, allows organizations to rethink conventional business models and become more agile in their ability to meet customer needs.

Emeya talked about “Roche Holistic Experience” - delivering the right content to the right person, in the right place, at the right time. 

She stated that every person within the organization must speak the same language if they want to remain competitive. Digital should be an organization-wide capability- Today, if organizations fail to evolve holistically, they might drop behind.

Simply adding the latest tech to a business model won’t yield results. Organizations need to consistently make strides to deliver better customer experiences. 

“Digital fluency helps us cope up with the new technologies that we bring into our organization”- Raja Ahmed, Head of Human Resources & Administration. 

He further elaborated saying, “Digital fluency will help create an employee experience. And the outcome of what we are doing internally will also be translated to how our customers experience our services. So, a combination of Employee Experience (EX) and Customer Experience (CX) is what helps us!” 

According to Clayton, Ju Chiae Tan - Sr. GM, Head of OD, Sunway Group-

Digital technologies allows us to build before we physically build” 

Digital technologies allow businesses to plan much better, ultimately saving costs is what Clayton stretched upon further.

What Are the Elements That Organizations Need Before Moving Towards Digital Transformation?

What would vacationing without a destination be like? The same stands true for digital transformation!

You definitely need a vision right from the get-go. 

Here are some major elements organizations should consider before plunging into digital transformation journey:

The Vision Must Be Cascaded Through the Organization

“Involvement from people is key”- Raja Ahmed, Head of Human Resources & Administration. 

Digital transformations tend to start off strong but lose momentum along the way. What most organizations fail to understand is that transformation is as much a cultural transformation as a technological one. While technology is the fuel for digital, people still remain at the heart of transformation. 

No transformation can succeed unless you (as leaders) cascade a vision of an inspiring future! (We also talked about this  in our earlier blog post where Dr. Swatee gave her two cents on seamlessly weaving digital into every aspect of your business.)

It is important for employees to understand the “why” behind the transformation. Without a “why”, they can’t actually board the “how” and further drive the change. 

People need to visualize digitization. They need to believe in the change to bring it to fruition.

Organizations like Air Selangor are kicking in DIGITAL DRIVE to let their employees witness the organization’s digital efforts and journey. 

Seize the Right Mindset

The wisest organization is one that rides on its collective talent to fix serious business challenges. 

To put it in a nutshell, it’s the people who execute the change. However, getting employees up to speed requires a radical shift in thinking and decision-making.

In what ways are companies doing this?

Organizations like Sunway Group, Malaysia run hackathons and ideation challenges where employees flock together to ideate, collaborate, design, and iterate to push boundaries and think laterally. 

We spoke with Clayton, Ju Chiae Tan - Sr. GM, Head of OD, Sunway Group, to discuss some mindset shifts the organization is embracing to move towards digital fluency. 

In his words, “ We run the ESSA program, E-Eliminate, S-Simplify, S-Standardize, A-Automate to relook processes within the organization if we can eliminate it first. If it cannot be eliminated, how do we simplify it, if not how can we standardize being a huge organization, and otherwise how can leverage technology to automate it. This has helped us very much when it comes to productivity and growth. As soon as these projects get results, the mentality automatically shifts to continue working on more projects in the same area."

Similarly, Air Selangor is heavily relying on the establishment of a digital workplace as a starting point for embracing digital change. 

Also, upskilling employees to embark upon new challenges and opening avenues for new learning platforms will prepare them for the change.”- Raja Ahmed, Head of Human Resources & Administration. 

For organizations to experience fewer disruptions, upskilling is a must!


“Unlearning is equally important, not just learning.”- Emeya Lee - Director, People, and Culture, Roche

The pandemic has taught us that now is the time when people need to come out of their shells of skills and get exposed to new realms. The potential to unlearn sloppy ways of thinking is very critical to effective change management.

“To make the change stick in the organization, leaders must set the tone right. As leaders, you must also inspire people to have the stamina to learn new skills.” - Raja Ahmed, Head of Human Resources & Administration. 

digital reset at mindtree

Ending Notes:

Digital fluency needs to be seen as a language- an essential skill!

To embed digital changes deeply, organizations must perform it religiously. Leaders have to be actively involved in the process. 

Properly executed, digital transformation can potentially transform the entire ecosystem- people, processes, platforms, data, design, and agile!

“Digital transformation is a marathon, It’s not an overnight thing!” - Clayton, Ju Chiae Tan - Sr. GM, Head of OD, Sunway Group

September 14, 2021 - No Comments!

Building Digital Fluency: In Conversation with Dr. Swatee Sarangi

digital culture with swatee sarangi

The part-2 of the series“ Building Digital Fluency in Organizations” features Dr. Swatee Sarangi, Global Head - Learning, Leadership & OD at Dr.Reddy’s Lab who spoke about the digital awareness and mindset shift within Dr. Reddy’s and how the organization keeps up with the digital age. 

Meet Dr. Swatee Sarangi:

Dr. Swatee Sarangi is the Global Head for Learning, Leadership, and OD at Dr. Reddy's Laboratories.

A C-suite level practitioner in strategic workforce design & capability development, Dr. Swatee also possesses deep expertise in talent modeling, strategic visioning, learning, people development, work practice innovations & leadership development. 

An academician for 17 years and a gold medalist, with over 20 papers in distinguished publications, Dr. Swatee has been an eminent speaker and an HR influencer on various global platforms. 

Rajiv: How do you define digital fluency in your organization? 

Dr. Swatee Sarangi: I perceive digital fluency as a way of life. It manifests in the way businesses run and people perform their daily activities at work. Digital fluency is deeply ingrained in culture and strategy. It is everywhere. So it becomes a part of the narrative of the organization and people's life.

Rajiv: What impact does digital fluency have on your business? How would you articulate it in terms of business metrics?

Dr. Swatee Sarangi: At Dr. Reddy’s, we believe that good health can't wait, and empathy and dynamism. These are our guiding values that come alive through digital impact, because, whatever we are trying to innovate is all about making things and medicines affordable for people which are accessible faster and better. So, that faster part comes in. 

So, if I had to look at the impact, it would be a combination of lead and lag indicators. The core business at Dr. Reddy’s is getting digitized. There are movements into adjacencies. Some are getting disrupted. So, we are doing a whole range of new things in the area of digital as well. It has been a plus for us beyond the pill. 

And then our organization design- the way we work becomes more fluid and collaborative. Even the processes are getting automated, where we are saving time!

We’re also focusing on digital skill-building- A lot of upskilling, multi-skilling. Also, the way we engage with stakeholders has also changed. So, the connect part, which is also making it more inclusive. The speed and the power of digital is making it pervasive in all these formats.

Rajiv: How do you cascade digital strategy across levels within the organization?

Dr. Swatee Sarangi: It's a lot about trying to harmonize the entire digital momentum in all the talent processes. From performance management to skill development to hiring employees with digital quotients, everything is digital. 

We try to attack this in a three-pronged way- First, we build a layer of hyperawareness, where everybody in the organization is hyper aware about our 3d agenda. Dr. Reddy has a 3d agenda around digital, data, and design thinking. So, our employees need to have a certain amount of fluency around these areas. 

Secondly, adding a layer of digital translators. Now, the digital and data translators are the ones who act as a conduit between the business as well as the digital team. So that was also really helpful because they have deeper skills, and they can speak the language and make a case for it and act like champions. 

And last but not the least, also getting the leaders to be very actively involved as they’re the ones who are the change agents. So a lot of focus on how they will evangelize the culture and get the platforms in place and the entire experience of making digital very seamlessly woven with all the work and the business processes. 

We have found this kind of approach to work well for us, where all parts of the organization see digital as simply a way to exist.

digital readiness survey

Rajiv: What sort of methodologies are you embracing to move towards digital fluency? Can you shed some light on how you are actually going about building those methodologies and embedding that within the organization?

Dr. Swatee Sarangi: We have our cultural credo that everyone at Dr. Reddy’s practices. It’s called ASPIRE- the I part of it stands for Innovation, i.e. having a digital Mindset. When it is embedded in your daily work, it is very noticeable. And that's where the conviction comes in. Therefore, the way you communicate is very important. Everyone has to do that, all the time. 

Also, we are celebrating these moments where people have come out and practice digital in the desired ways. We have Digital Ninjas. When people gather some credits by taking courses and learning new skills, we celebrate them as Digital Ninjas. And trust me, it works really well because everybody likes to be flashed like a Digital Ninja. And today we have ninjas going and doing more accelerated kinds of courses, projects, etc. We also have these ideas, sort of like shark tanks, coming from people, real people.

So we are encouraging a digital mindset, celebrating innovation, and being digital. 

Also sharing success stories, and sometimes even learning from failures. Sometimes you want people to experiment, be creative, and there's a safety net provided for all. That helps!

I would say knowledge management is also very critical when you're trying to build this digital foundation. 

And these are some of the ways in which digital can become a part of a company's culture so that people can flow with it. For us, it has worked very well, and there are still a lot of miles to go.

Rajiv: What are some of the lessons we can learn from Dr.Reddy’s Digital transformation process?

Dr. Swatee Sarangi: We have the Manufacturing part, the R&D, the Commercial, and the Sales. In the manufacturing, we've adopted an agenda called Ops Next, where we are trying to look at Industry 4.0 in action- And taking it to the operators down the line, and getting everybody to change (not only automate the way they were working, but the whole mindset part of it ) has not been easy. But there is momentum for it. So we are approaching it by virtue of giving them the skills and capabilities, the resources, and an entire ecosystem where this can be sustained. 

Even in R&D, right from the selection to the launch of new products. In the COVID also we came out with a whole range of new things that we did. So that entire range has been digitalized in a great way.

We also have scientists and the people who are researching also talking about digital. 

Now, if you look at the commercial and sales folks at Dr. Reddy’s, they have been connecting with doctors in the past, especially during the pandemic through digital mediums. 

So the Doc Connect kind of digital platforms were launched by us. So we have the right platforms in place, people being up-skilled, to be able to use such platforms and not look at digital as a thrust upon agenda. A pull has to be created. 

Digital has to be a part of the ecosystem.

And whether the journey and the adoption has been easy.? No, it's not so easy. You won't have everyone immediately jump on board, but you will have some early adopters, some fence-sitters, some critics, naysayers, and all that. 

Change management is easier when you think about your employees' experience the same way you do about your customers. So, focusing on change has helped us tremendously. 

Rajiv: What are some change management principles that you can share with the audience?

Dr. Swatee Sarangi: We have created a Change Management Playbook. It has been a very interesting experience because what we have realized is when people are at different stages in the continent, and when they're grappling with challenges, they sometimes don't have answers. But when you have things evolving and templates being created- what worked, what did not work?

So this Change Management Playbook is more like a dynamic iterated playbook. It is for people to refer to when in doubt, share things. So, this has been a great help to us.

Rajiv: How do you sharpen your learning quotient? 

Dr. Swatee Sarangi: I always try to listen more. And from listening comes reflecting and new insights. I learned a lot from the experiences of others, and some from my own. 

The third part of this interview series, “Building Digital Fluency in Organizations” will feature Amit Sharma, CHRO, Volvo weighing in on Knowing, Doing, Becoming, and Being Digital, what does digital fluency mean in the context of Volvo.

You can also watch the live webinar recording here

August 31, 2021 - No Comments!

Lack of Digital Awareness: The Reason Why Organizations Fail

lack of digital awareness: the reason why organizations fail

Despite understanding the importance of technology for their organizations, leaders fail to adapt to the digital world. What does being digital in the modern era mean? What should organizations avoid when preparing for digital transformation? Is digital transformation just about technology, or is it driven by the people?

90% of CEOs believe the digital economy will impact their industry, but less than 15% are executing on a digital strategy.   

— MIT Sloan and Capgemini

DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION has become a buzzword. Every company is undergoing digital transformation, but only in terms of IT and infrastructure. Organizations place digital technology over business models, employees, work culture, mindsets, and customer needs- a huge mistake! 

However, real transformation happens when organizations embrace technology, not for its own sake, but rather as a means to enhance customer experience and boost profitability.

To gear towards a digital change, organizations need to think beyond tools. Because now is the right time to shape the organization's culture, guide employees through their digital journey and create a workforce that is willing to adapt to any change.

70% of digital transformations fall short of expectations

Why Should Organizations Care About Digital Culture?

According to a survey by Capgemini (2017),  6 out of 10 respondents in a survey cited culture as the main obstacle to digital transformation. 

Many organizations fail to establish the right digital culture either because of inherent cultural differences or because of a lack of opportunities for employees to try new things and be rewarded for their efforts. 

To address this issue, leaders need to create policies that facilitate the adoption of digital practices. They need to motivate their workforce to become digitally savvy. 

Leaders, via their decisions and behaviors, must set the right tone for the success of digital transformation. They should formulate a strategic vision for digital transformation which can further be cascaded into specific actions for the rest of the employees.

Digital culture reshapes the way we interact, behave, think and communicate as people living in a digitally connected world. Hence, the right culture is essential to make the digital transformation successful.

The biggest part of our digital transformation is changing the way we think. simeon preston, bupa quoteDigital Transformation: How Failure to Change Impacts Organizations?

 1. Inability to Surpass Customer’s Expectations.

Nearly every digital transformation initiative revolves around customer experience. Customers look for quick, responsive, and interactive solutions from brands they buy from/do business with. To succeed, organizations must exceed those expectations. 

Instead of counting on media, devices, and apps to drive digital transformation, insights should be taken from the customer. When the consumer's expectations are met, customer loyalty inevitably drives digital innovation and adoption. 

If an organization strives to be fully consumer-focused at all levels, making the shift to a digital world happens naturally- affecting every touchpoint when it comes to customer experience.

2. Inappropriate Business Models

As technology continues to disrupt businesses, organizations need to be more agile. They must think like a technology company to transform their business digitally- A strategy that worked for DBS - the world’s best digital bank!

DBS bank which "operates like a technology company" has been transforming as early as 2014, when they decided to upgrade their core banking system. But things didn't turn out the way as expected. After a crushing defeat, DBS sought inspiration from tech firms in order to transform digital assets into an advantage. 

They learned from giants in the industry like Amazon, Google, Apple, Netflix, LinkedIn, Facebook. They revamped the organization to have a change-driven mindset. They created experiential learning platforms, redefined working, designed new offices, and motivated their employees to embrace innovation and experimentation.

The transformation they have undertaken is not just in terms of infrastructure but mindset, processes, analytics, quick decision making, agility, and so on. 

A key factor in the success of DBS was the motto “technology is business and business is technology.” This led to creating platforms that brought people and technology together- via a shared strategy, objectives, and measures. This approach also contributed to the bank’s successful cultural transformation. 

To stay ahead and succeed, businesses must embrace emerging technology, remain agile to adopt evolving business models, and above all, put customers at the center of every strategy.

digital transformation - how failure to change impacts organization3. Fixed Mindsets, Inability to Learn

How keen are employees to change their mindset to reap the benefits of digital transformation? Do they realize their responsibility? Are they motivated to transform?

It’s a leader’s duty to shift employees from what they are doing now to what they should be doing for the organization’s growth.

There is a need to help employees leverage new thought processes while solving business challenges. To be successful, leaders must communicate the benefit. This will make it easier for the team members to understand and further implement the change.

While technology is important, the underlying philosophy of digital transformation that leverages technology via a digital mindset is what makes a difference.

4. Rigid Leadership

Leaders with excellent leadership skills can do wonders for organizations; they can drive their teams to success. 

Ineffective leaders, on the flip side, can do extensive damage. Their actions, or decisions, can hurt team spirit, employee motivation, and bottom-line performance. 

Leaders need to be goal-oriented and understand the organization’s objective. If goals are not defined, any business will lack direction; hence their performance will suffer.

5. Lack of Dedicated Skills

To survive in the digital age, organizations need to upskill their employees. Because of the insufficiency of digital talent, not just the workforce, the organization struggles as well. 

Hence, it’s in the organizations’ best interest to train their workforce in the necessary skills. 

The top skills every organization needs for the digital age include Emotional Intelligence, Business Acumen Skills, Virtual Team Collaboration, Change Management Skills, Problem-Solving, Creative Thinking, Digital Literacy, etc.

6. Failure to Invest in Digitized Workflows

By digitizing workflows and documenting processes, organizations become more resilient. Additionally, embracing end-to-end digital workflows promotes easier collaboration, eliminates the scope of bugs, maximizes productivity- which in turn helps organizations better serve their customers. 

To keep up with the changing times, organizations must immediately switch from manual, paper-based to digital processes and workflows.

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Digital Isn’t a Thing to Achieve but an Era to Live!

“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” — John F. Kennedy

The COVID-19 pandemic gave businesses a wake-up call to speed up their digital transformation. It urged them to move along an agile path. 

Many, if not all organizations, have digitized at least a part of their operations to serve customers and safeguard employees. And this will continue to evolve even if the crisis ends. 

Hence, it’s time for organizations to review and reinvent their operating model, processes, roles- all of which contribute to the culture, competencies, and mindsets. 

The way different organizations define digital culture may vary from each other, but ultimately it all boils down to how their workforce incorporates digital skills into their daily lives. On the professional front, this means cultivating a digital mindset that maximizes business performance using the latest technology and skill sets.

 While digital transformation poses great challenges, it presents tremendous opportunities for organizations willing to adapt, evolve and change!

March 26, 2021 - No Comments!

How-to Guide: How do coaching and mentoring contribute to leadership development?

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In today’s dynamic and disruptive business environment, the right skills play a critical role in driving future success. High performance starts at the employee level, funneling up to the team or functional level, and further to top leadership. In fact, today’s employees are tomorrow’s leaders, they shall steer the organizational ship in the right direction, taking others along in achieving the business objective. Hence, it is imperative for organizations to invest in the apt leadership development program and learning tools to continuously build future-relevant competencies.

The New-Age Performance Paradigm

Performance management has evolved over the years, from a carrot-stick approach to a developmental focus. The boundaries between performance management and L&D are fast blurring, as new skills are required to navigate the new normal. In a bid to unleash employees’ innovation, energy, and commitment, the corporate leadership training ethos is now more of ‘direct-and-develop’, than ‘command-and-control,. Such democratization and digitalization of learning have compelled organizations to expand their learning offerings to include newer tools, such as learning management software, coaching mentoring, virtual classroom platforms, and holistic learning-experience platforms.


The Need for Coaching-Mentoring as a Leadership Development Tool

Developing leaders is a pan-organizational activity today, not limited to the higher echelons of the corporate hierarchy. With hierarchical silos melting apart in a hyper-connected, digital era, mid-level managers to are expected to lead in their own right. In fact, a fundamental shift is seen in the manager-role; the role of a manager is becoming that of a coach. The modern-day manager is expected to ask questions instead of providing answers, to support employees instead of judging them, and to facilitate their teams’ development instead of dictating what has to be done. Hence, coaching and mentoring find application for leadership development across levels, from mid-level to senior-level employees.

Another important transformation driving the need for coaching-mentoring is the attitude towards capability development. Organizations have realized that continuous learning is the only way to stay relevant and future-ready, and hence, coaching-mentoring may prove a powerful tool to cultivate a continuous learning culture.


Coaching or Mentoring: What is right for your employees?

To effectively use coaching and mentoring for leadership development training, it is important to understand how they differ. Coaching is focused on building specific Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude (KSA), making it more performance-based or role-based for the present needs. Mentoring, on the other hand, is more relationship-based and focuses on holistic development i.e. professional, personal, and even spiritual; and is more ongoing in nature. These differences complement each other, making both modalities valuable and necessary in building sustainable leaders. It is up to L&D to be blend both together in the right manner and curate a powerful, unbeatable offering for developing future leaders.

While the conventional concepts of coaching and mentoring apply, the rise of future-skills such as digital skills and social skills offer organizations the opportunity to institutionalize reverse-mentoring- a concept where young employees who are digital-natives (such as millennials) coach older employees on the new-age skills.


Assimilating Coaching-Mentoring into the Leadership Development Strategy

To truly make coaching and mentoring an integral part of executive leadership training, L&D professionals must carefully curate the finer details, every step of the way.

Formalizing Coaching-mentoring as a Process: This starts with outlining the coaching-mentoring need to designing or sourcing the appropriate tool, to implementing the solution in a phased manner. A formalized coaching process with process-steps factored into the learning tool is the best way to make a real skill-building impact.

Building A Coaching Culture: Coaching must become institutionalized into the nuances of organizational learning, especially in executive development programs and processes. Only then can it bring about real and sustained skill-change. This is possible only when leaders themselves act as icons of futuristic learning and become coaches/mentors to support and guide employees. Streamlining the process-aspect is a bare-basic hygiene factor, but L&D must focus a lot more on the people aspect. L&D leaders need to drive a mindset change and for this, leaders must espouse values such as openness and transparency, collaboration, shared learning, and so on. Encouraging developmental dialogue amongst people is instrumental to coaching-mentoring success. Coaching-mentoring readiness requires a very different set of values and behaviors, which shall then entrench into a coaching culture.

Coaching as an Organizational Capability

 To instill the right values and behaviors and foster such a culture, organizations must treat coaching-mentoring as a capability in itself. This means that coaching-mentoring must be treated as a core managerial skill so that managers and coaches truly relate to the coaching culture and take proactive efforts to become effective coaches and mentors. For example, coaching and mentoring demand significant manager-time and attention, and in the business of day-to-day work, coaching-mentoring may take a slip. Hence, it is important to educate managers on the “why” i.e. show them the purpose. When managers and leaders coach or mentor with a clear purpose, they may be able to better see the collateral benefits of coaching-mentoring. A top-down inspiration also works well i.e. creating “coaching-mentoring models” in the top leadership, and constantly communicating how they connect with employees can make people realize that coaching-mentoring is a core organizational capability. Last but not the least, L&D needs to empower managers and leaders by making powerful digital tools available and accessible. Applying emerging technologies such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to coaching-mentoring tools can provide managers with real-time performance data. This, in turn, may encourage them to stop monitoring and controlling employees, and following a more developmental and democratic people-management approach. To encourage actual adoption, HR must educate managers to use and navigate the modules on learning tools and platforms, ideally in a multi-device setup. A seamless user-experience is first and foremost in creating a ‘pull’ towards coaching-mentoring.

Above all, coaching-mentoring learning-actions must be well-integrated with other talent functions and systems such as performance management systems, learning systems, total rewards systems, HRMS, etc. so that it is treated as a core organizational capability.

Coaching and mentoring is not a one-time intervention, it is an ongoing commitment involving the time, effort, and investment of employees, managers, and leaders alike. To truly imbibe coaching-mentoring as a part of the leadership development strategy, L&D must gain the continued buy-in of the CXO suite. L&D needs to build a solid business case, such that the cause of leadership development is co-owned by business, L&D, HR and top leadership,  and not just by L&D folks.


Sources / References:


  1. LinkedIn-Leading-with-Learning-Insights-and-Advice-Report -

March 25, 2021 - No Comments!

Digital Transformation Champion – A truly-effective transformation leader in the era of Digital.

Did you know that investments in Digital Transformation are expected to cross over $7.5 Trillion USD between 2021 and 2024?

Did you also know that only one in three Digital Transformation initiatives usually succeed?

Do you know what’s happened to the companies who have failed to transform themselves into Digital in the last few years?

During a global pandemic and a time of rapid organizational disruption, it is becoming inevitable for leaders in any organization to drive change initiatives while navigating increasingly complex and changing organizational structures, markets, and stakeholders. In an age where yesterday’s science fiction is becoming tomorrow’s history, organizations need champions for their digital transformations to build:

  • Digital Strategy
  • Digital Culture
  • Digital Capabilities


To help organizations prepare for this transformation, KNOLSKAPE presents Digital Transformation Champion simulation, a unique simulation to help organizations create Transformation Champions who can enroll their ecosystems into a new, digital paradigm when needed.

This simulation helps in building awareness on the following attributes of a transformation champion:

  • Understand and learn the importance of strategy, capability, and culture in getting digital change outcomes.
  • Understand the importance of ecosystem adoption in bringing organization-wide change.
  • Understand the importance of outside-in awareness of the digital trends and the changes to unlock the art of the possible, sources of customer value, and changes in business models.
  • Understand the importance of influencing stakeholders even in scenarios where they may not have direct authority. They are open to crossing boundaries within and outside the organization to orchestrate ideas, people, and resources to get things done.
  • Understand how to communicate important concepts/ideas using data.

Digital Transformation Champion simulation is based on some of the widely used and relevant frameworks.


  • ADKAR:
    The Prosci ADKAR® Model is one of the most widely requested and sought-after models for change management. The model offers a structured approach to ensure that each individual experiencing change moves through the five phases necessary to make overall change successful.

© Prosci, Inc.

  • Digital strategy + Digital Capabilities + Digital Culture = Digital Outcomes.In order to bring in a digital transformation change, every leader in the organization needs to build on the strategic alignment towards the initiative, develop capabilities needed to adapt to the change, build and maintain a culture that sustains the change.
  • DIGITAL BLUR. In a digital transformation scenario, a company needs to focus on all three in the right proportion to ensure a successful outcome – which might mean better customer-centricity, more innovation, greater profitability, and faster growth. Digital BLUR is a unique framework created by KNOLSKAPE to help organizations and individuals navigate the disruption caused by the digital revolution. It is the core premise of the book, “Clearing the Digital BLUR,” by KNOLSKAPE’s CEO, Rajiv Jayaraman. The Digital BLUR framework defines how to leverage existing and emerging tools of the Digital era to convince people of the merits of the transformation one wishes to bring about.

BLUR is an acronym that stands for

  • Boundaryless organizations - where the organizational boundaries are blurring away.
  • Limitless digitization - where the line between physical, digital, and biological is blurring away
  • Unbounded innovation - where industry boundaries are blurring away 
  • Relentless iteration - were time boundaries around the now, new, and the next are blurring away


The Digital Transformation Champion simulation gives players the chance to drive digital in a true-to-life ecosystem, with digital-age actions, immersive environments, and realistic interactions. At the end of the simulation, each champion gets a detailed report on their performance that can help them improve their skills even more.

Nurture your mission-critical leadership with KNOLSKAPE's brand new simulation - DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CHAMPION to drive change initiatives in the digital era. 

March 23, 2021 - No Comments!

How-to Guide: Implementing Coaching & Mentoring in the workplace post COVID-19

implementing coaching and mentoring post covid-19

The year 2020 opened new realities as businesses had to adapt to the COVID-induced new normal. As entire nations went into lockdown and businesses shut down, virtually became the go-to way of working. While essential services continued the field, a huge segment of the employee population was forced to work remotely, almost overnight. Business priorities changed and new competencies emerged because employees had to rise up to the occasion and perform in earlier unheard-of ways. Moreover, organizations had to engage with these people differently, to keep them motivated in an impersonal virtual environment. Employee engagement, learning & development, and performance management took on a new avatar, as HR and business leaders strove to engage their people in the disruptive environment.

The L&D and Coaching-mentoring Outlook during COVID-19

66% of global L&D professionals agree that their function has become a much more strategic part of their organization. CXOs have reported a 3X increase in training efforts during the lockdown and have seen virtual learnings breaking down legacy barriers.

L&D took on a strategic role. The development focus increased, as upskilling and reskilling became a CXO agenda. As learning went virtual, eLearning solutions became mainstream. Organizations hustled to convert physical formats such as Instructor-Led Training (ILT) to virtual formats such as Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) and Self-paced learning. This was done across organizational levels, and especially for executive development, as leadership became a critical competency to ride over the crises. As managers we're expected to lead and coach their team members, L&D needed to design the learning experience while upholding the humane elements of mental health, happiness, and holistic well-being. Softer skills such as emotional resilience, mindfulness, and relearning emerged as critical future-skills. This demanded a coaching-mentoring developmental focus. During the pandemic, L&D professionals took to exploring the right learning experience platform to establish virtual coaching and virtual mentoring. This need remains in post-pandemic times too.

Step-by-step guide for implementing Coaching and Mentoring post COVID-19

Institutionalizing a virtual coaching and mentoring process should be a well thought through exercise:

  • Conceptualization: L&D must move away from the cookie-cutter approach and create a personalized and relatable learning experience for both learner and coach/mentor. The construct of coaching must be aligned with the business needs of the organization. Hence, L&D must work closely with the business and the C-suite at the concept stage to create business-relevant and engaging content.
  • Design: Coaching and mentoring modules must be ingrained in the virtual training platforms, by putting in place a proper process. L&D may choose to invest in existing coaching tools and mentoring tools, for which they should do a thorough assessment of digital learning solutions available in the market, to suit one’s talent outcomes. Many eLearning companies have coaching-mentoring modules as a part of their eLearning solutions, it is up to L&D leaders to don the business hat and identify what works for the business and what does not.
  • Initiation: Any learning intervention requires an extensive change management process for people to adopt and embrace it. Before directly implementing the coaching solution or mentoring solution, L&D must orient stakeholders to the new process through extensive education.
  • Implementation: An initial pilot test in any team or function can help gauge the readiness for pan-organization implementation. Technical implementation should be such that the tool provides a glitch-free and seamless user-experience because a great employee experience is essential to ensure the adoption of coaching-mentoring as a way of life. Above, all managers and leaders must take ownership and responsibility to coach their people, so HR must drive a formal process for coaching-mentoring.
  • Assessment: It is important to track learning progress through qualitative inputs and metrics. According to the Kirkpatrick model, L&D must try to achieve Level 3 (Behaviour) and Level 4 (Results) outcomes, but in the nascent stages, it is also important to track operational metrics such as completion rates. Seeking qualitative feedback also goes a long way in gaining useful behavioral insights and enabling continuous improvement in the process.


The Right Blend of High-Tech and High-Touch

The virtualization of coaching and mentoring is the way ahead. The efficiency and convenience of technological tools need to be balanced with the softer human-element. L&D needs to complement the tool-experience with timely and quality human interventions. L&D must build coaching as a core capability, by seeking the dedicated involvement of managers and leaders. Striking the right balance between high-tech and high-touch will help curate the best learning experience, and thereby encourage people to adopt a coaching ‘mindset’.

Fostering a Coaching Mindset

L&D and leaders’ roles do not end with implementing coaching and mentoring processes and tools. In fact, this is just the beginning. Coaching and mentoring success requires a ‘growth’ and ‘developmental’ mindset across employees, and this, in turn, demands an extensive change management exercise. For coaching to be entrenched as a core organizational capability, L&D must create a ‘pull’ by providing the best employee experience. Constant communication i.e. highlighting success stories, and portraying leaders as successful coaches and mentors, will make employees ‘aspire’ for the coaching or mentoring experience. Leaders may talk about their leadership journeys i.e. how coaching and mentoring helped them pave their careers the way they wanted while aligning with the business needs. Such communication must be backed up with the right educational resources to encourage people to adopt coaching and mentoring.

The impact of coaching and mentoring is not limited to mere leadership development training but extends to broader agendas such as employee engagement and wellbeing. Due to the decentralization of leadership, coaching-mentoring finds value across hierarchies and is a powerful tool for organization-wide people-transformation. Hence, L&D must constantly seek business buy-in to make it an integral part of the leadership development strategy.

Source and Reference

  1. LinkedIn-Leading-with-Learning-Insights-and-Advice-Report

March 17, 2021 - No Comments!

Transformation is Not Just Another Change

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'Transformation' has become the buzzword over the last decade. Not just that, it has replaced 'change' in the business vocabulary. But are the two words the same in meaning and essence?

Before I say a big No, I think it is essential to make a case for both change and transformation and draw out the similarities and differences.

For the sake of an informed argument, let us first look at how each is defined and then call out the parameters on which we can compare the two.

In the dictionary, 'change' is described as 'to substitute or replace something.' Whereas 'Transformation' is defined as 'a complete change, usually into something with an improved appearance or usefulness.' 

These descriptions bring two pictures to my mind; that of a snake and a caterpillar. When a snake sheds its skin, it changes, but when a caterpillar emerges from a pupa and turns into a butterfly, it transforms.

Still, sounds similar?

Understanding the difference today is far more crucial than ever before, especially when enterprises are faced with two of the biggest challenges ever. The first, most unprecedented challenge is that of surviving the pandemic. And the second is of meeting and seizing the opportunity of digital business acceleration.

The sheer magnitude and complexity of these challenges call for a complete shift in how we do things and how we approach them. What has worked so far will not work anymore. With entire industries being reshaped, organizations must rethink their strategy, rebuild their leadership capabilities, reinforce their talent pools, and revamp their culture. That does not sound like a mere change now, does it?

Change can be small and incremental or large and complex. It emanates from the desire to do things differently, to achieve faster, cheaper, and better results. It needs constant monitoring and maintenance. It is limited to changes at the level of process or procedures. These processes and procedures have dedicated owners who continuously measure them against set metrics that point to continuous improvements. It is a short-term response to the market forces and is based on assumptions. It is not significant in impact as it is limited to the internal mechanics of an organization's functions.

E.g., Security upgrades, ERP software migration, entering new verticals based on past success in similar spaces.

Transformation, however, is almost always significant in its magnitude of impact. It demands a complete shift from what you have been so far and aimed for so far as an organization. The goals are not merely incremental but completely new. Unlike change, which is based on past success stories, transformation is a quantum shift from what you did or were before. The point of reference is from this time on. It is future-looking.

To be able to do something completely different, anew, requires a fundamental evolution. Transformation requires modifying core beliefs and long-term behaviors, sometimes in profound ways, to achieve the desired results. You begin by questioning why you do what you do and the way you do it. It is an inward-facing exercise requiring a complete overhaul of an organization's makeup, strategy, capability, and culture. Since it alters the organization's carbon, it has a far-reaching impact on the entire organization and the ecosystem the organization thrives in.

In the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, companies quickly shifted to a work-from-home model. This was a momentary change in the way they operated. The idea was to go back to the way we worked before, as soon as we overcome the problem at hand. But Slack's announcement that they are permanently moving to a hybrid workforce model that eliminates the idea of 'headquarters' as the heart of its operations in June 2020 is a transformation.

Digital change and digital transformation each have a different focus. While moving to cloud-based project management will deliver efficiency is a change initiative, increasing data performance through migration to the cloud is a transformation. Entering new markets based on historic data is change, but big-data-driven marketing automation is transformation.

In simple terms, when you improve processes and procedures intending to be efficient by upgrading technology, you are undertaking change. But when you leverage technology in every aspect of your business and fundamentally rethink how you work with it and through it, it is a transformation.

It is the intent and magnitude of shift and impact that sets the two apart. And these examples clearly show that: change is a short-term enabler that helps an organization quickly adapt or respond to external factors like trends and shifting demands; transformation, however, redefines what success looks like and how you plan to get there.