Houston, we have a problem!

You don’t have to look too far to realise that the world of work has become more complex in the last 10 years than it has ever been. The last 5 years has been a bumpy ride, as we all struggle to keep up with the effects of digital disruption and a globally connected workspace.

Our timelines are shorter and the expectations placed upon our organisations/customers, are greater than we ever imagined. The pace of every aspect of business and organisational life has reached fever pitch and it’s becoming all too obvious that we are struggling.

Many might argue that we are not struggling, and that the general perception is that we are doing okay, however the data doesn’t lie. We are not doing as well as we think we are and more importantly, we could be! It’stime we admitted this to ourselves and our organisations at large. 

Though my vocation as a facilitator and leadership coach I see the same patterns and themes repeated over and over again. Organisations continuing to try and solve the complex adaptive problems of today with yesterday’s outdated technical approaches.

 Arguably, in order to be highly effective in today’s work environment it’s imperative that you are digitally literate, simply because in order to make effective decisions at the senior levels, you need to understand the emerging landscape. The problem is that most of us don’t.

I am reminded by one small quite on twitter recently from a friend and futurist Adam Jorlen that really captures the heart of the matter.

“Technology is not an industry, it’s every industry.”

Disruption is everywhere, but very few people ask how it is impacting our organisation? It’s too easy to point the finger and blame other things, such as emerging technologies (which is true), but that’s not where the real problem lies.

The real issue is people capability, and the resilience and strength to realise the problems (and answers) are staring back at us in the mirror. People capability is the real reason we are experiencing the challenges we have in organisations and business. The lack of capacity to adapt to the emerging digital landscape has created a direct link to disruption. And once you are behind, it’s hard to get back in front.

I’ve lost count of how many of my senior executive coaching sessions are centred around ineffective critical businesses decisions that have costed their organisations hundreds of thousands of dollars, precisely because they don’t have a basic relationship with modern technology. Not having this relationship is like completing an MBA and missing the leadership subjects.

If we look at recent research into decision making (the graph below), it’s very clear that we are ignoring a considerable problem. The gap between our current capability and the requirements and task demands of our roles is quite astounding. We are well and truly in over our heads.

One such example is centred around social media. Clients often argue that they don’t have time to access Twitter, customise Flipboard or check LinkedIn, my response is always that it’s not about the actual outcome or engagement with technology. It’s about learning the new rules of business for the modern era.

It’s fundamentally about upgrading your own internal operating system to meet the demands of the 21st Century. By not having this relationship to technology, you’re not only crippling your own decision making capacity but the overall performance of your organisation.

Technology combined with the right knowledge can actually cut down the complexity in our environment rather than increase it when we make wise, well-informed choices.

The secret to building more effective organisational and leadership capacity is through developing our relationship to complexity and technology. By understanding the digital landscape, it provides us the capacity to cut through the complexity we experience from day to day and increase our productivity and effectiveness.