The Monthly “Digital Maturity” Book Tuning: Understand “Art & Science” of Digital Management July 2020

Digital makes a significant impact on every aspect of the business from people, process to technology, both horizontally and vertically. The digitalization flattens the organizational hierarchy and blurs the functional, organizational and geographical borders in the business ecosystem. 

It is like a gigantic puzzle with many misplaced pieces, you have to put them all in the right places to discover the real meaning and unleash its full potential. You cannot make a true digital paradigm shift without an in-depth understanding of the digital interconnectivity and embracing the multitude of digital maturity.

     Understand the “Art & Science” of Digital Management 

Is Digital Management More Art or Science Management is about the coordination of the activities of a business in order to achieve defined objectives. Management is often included as a factor of production along with machines, materials, and money. According to the management guru Peter Drucker (1909-2005), the basic task of management includes both marketing and innovation. Management consists of the interlocking function of creating corporate policy and organizing, planning, controlling, and directing an organization’s resources in order to achieve the objectives of that policy. ( The business world has shifted from industrial age to information age, now in the digital era, the fundamental concept of management is still the same. However, with the speed of change and advance of technology, the digital business is always on and hyperconnected, has digital management become less mechanical and more organic? Is management more art or science nowadays

Closing the Gap of Traditional Management vs. Holistic Digital Management At the industrial age, the majority of organizations have been operated with classic management discipline, which is based on a tacit assumption that organizations can be compared to machines as a mechanical system. Traditional management is inside out process oriented and efficiency driven. Consequently, silo functions and divide-and-conquer methodologies are promoted both in organizational design as well as task responsibility or accountability distribution. Nowadays, businesses are steadily moving into the digital era with characteristics of hyper-connectivity and interdependence, how to close the gaps between classic management and digital management in order to enforce cross-functional collaboration and improve business effectiveness and maturity?

Digital Management Styles We are living in a “VUCA” complex world in which inventions, developments, and conflicts are continuously changing and that makes it impossible to have complete knowledge and understanding of many complex issues today. Traditional “command & control” management style loses the steam, the digital management approaches are adaptive and flexible, applying systems thinking to gain a holistic understanding of the organization, manage business relationships and resources effectively, take a comprehensive, anticipatory, and design approach to radically advance human well-being and build healthy business ecosystems smoothly.

The Hybrid Digital Management Disciplines The digital paradigm has many dimensions, it is like solving a jigsaw puzzle with thousands of pieces, easy to get lost when trying to capture the big picture. Digital transformation is the journey for solving problems caused by "conflict," "out of balance," and “lack of logic.” It has to expand into every dimension of the organization with a structural approach. Thus, digital management is a hybrid and holistic discipline with mixed management styles for managing everything that is necessary to get people to adopt new ways of working such as cross-functional communication and collaboration, organizational structure design, change management, talent development, digital business readiness, and stakeholder management, etc.

Apply Holistic Management to Drive Digital Transformation Over the last couple of decades, businesses have been faced with increasingly complex and pressing problem-situations, embedded in interconnected business ecosystems operating in dynamically changing environments. In addressing these problem situations and working with their relevant systems, business leaders and managers have learned to recognize the limitations of the perspectives, methodologies, and tools of the traditional scientific orientation and management discipline. Digital implies the always on and hyper-connected business nature with "VUCA" characteristics. Thus, management innovation becomes inevitable. Holistic management (a Greek word meaning all, whole, entire, total) is about applying Systems Thinking to manage resources, recognizing initiatives which take a comprehensive, anticipatory, and design approach to radically advance human well-being and the health of business ecosystems. But more specifically, how to apply holistic management for driving digital transformation?

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