Perception Is Reality

Digital thinking, to me, is the ability to take what is complex and make it simple.

Once we simplify things, it’s easier to find pathways to get us the outcomes we desire.

But digital thinking isn’t without its challenges.

It isn’t enough to plan for, purchase and deploy smart tech and call it digital transformation.  That’s the easy part.  What we need and, sadly, what so many places lack are smart people who understand what it means to ‘think digitally’.

There’s nothing easy about simplifying complexity.

A choice is pretty much made if there’s only one route that can get us to where we say we want to be.

Usually, though, they’re multiple routes to achieving any vision, each with its unique set of obstacles, setbacks, detours, distractions, experiences, advantages and limitations.  So while several pathways might eventually get us to where we say we want to be, not all are created equal.  Choosing the right route from the start often determines where and how we end up.  Barbadians have a wonderful saying, “You can’t start wrong and end right.”

Furthermore, in this age of “electric speed”, to borrow from Marshall McLuhan, simplifying torrents of information and prioritising competing demands for our loyalty almost requires us to rewire our brains to quickly recognise patterns, motives and potential value, make decisions in our best interests, and plan for any number of possible results.

What We See

However, our perception or level of awareness affects what we see and how we process what we see.  The ability – or inability – to spot what lies beneath the surface shapes decisions and affects outcomes.  In that sense, perception becomes reality.  Ultimately, we pay a steep price if we let incorrect assumptions or false narratives determine our choices.

To make matters even more challenging, our perception is shaped by what we don’t know as much as it is shaped by what we do know.

Yet, it’s impossible to know what we don’t know.

That’s why forming healthy partnerships to strengthen our weak spots is invaluable.  That and learning how to take in and process streams of information, making connections other people might miss, are required skills for success in today’s world.

Connecting the Dots

Still, knowledge alone doesn’t do much.  The intelligent application of knowledge is the real currency.  It matters less what we know than what we do with what we know.  Being able to connect the dots and map the optimal course to a desired outcome is the difference between success and failure.

Digital thinking also demands we tear down the artificial silos that define the analogue constructs of the past so we can see the world for what it is … a set of inter-related inter-dependent systems.

If we can think of people as digital collaborators rather than zero-sum competitors in a game somebody has to lose, so much the better.  No one should have to dim his or her light in order for ours to shine brighter.

Valuing Different Perspectives

Choosing the best pathway to achieve a vision; listening to and valuing opposing perspectives, allowing those that have merit to expand our thinking; forming mutually beneficial strategic alliances; building and thriving in cross-functional teams; designing governance frameworks that unleash people’s creativity rather than stifle it; genuinely caring that others succeed and trusting them to do the right thing: these are all characteristics of digital thinkers.

Ultimately, it isn’t enough to plan for, purchase and deploy digital technologies, systems and smart infrastructure and call it digital transformation.  Believe it or not, that’s the easy part.

What we need and, sadly, what so many places lack are smart people who understand what it means to think in digital terms.

Absorbing, distilling and simplifying the complexities of the modern age together create the platform for wise and strategic action.  Adding ethics and empathy to the mix reminds us of what it means to be human as the emerging 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) threatens to upend traditional perceptions and completely reshape our present reality.

More to explore

Learning How to Learn

They say it’s not what you know but who you know that counts. Neither idea could be further from the truth …

Why Values Matter

What we do is important but how we do it matters more. A start-up once engaged me to get its form, functions

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