Do you have the social capital required for the disruption that disruptive digital innovation will require?

A key and recurring them at the CSC ASPIRE conference was the topic of the convergence of digital leadership and digital disruption. One of the memes that was carried throughout the conference was leveraged by a CSC Leading Edge Forum research report entitled “Leadership and Digital Leadership are Becoming One and the Same” authored by LEF Research Director David Moschella.

As Moschella points out, even the most seasoned global behemoths have been ill-prepared for the internal disruption that external disruption causes. So why do new companies win and old companies lose in driving digital disruption? The answer centers around legacy silos and the inability to affect the connectivity needed for inspired disruptive change.

What many ignore is that the first step is to clearly define “change.” My own work with senior IT and C-level executives tells me that this problem is exacerbated by the fact that most organizations are incapable of defining precisely what “digital” means in their organization or LOB. The result is that angst-ridden LOB managers throw safety blankets over anything that may be digital, in a world where virtually everything is digital. “I don’t know what digital is but I’ll fight to protect the turf where I think it might be in my organization!”

According to business relationship guru Keith Ferrazzi the key to success resides in the science of behavioral transformation as the most critical element of establishing a culture of disruptive innovation and change. Unfortunately his research shows that many of our relationship behaviors were embedded as early as the age of 3! His research also shows that despite the illusion of meaningful digital connections via social media, we have become decreasingly “relational” over the past 20 years.

Most managers simply don’t have the deep relational connections required to manage this level of disruptive transformation within an enterprise. This social capital skills gap becomes even more profound when building high-performance teams that require even more sophisticated and resilient connections with customers, partners and internal stakeholders. This is why many enterprises have separated innovation and high-performance teams from the traditional business units.

In regard to relationship-driven innovation, Ferrazzi asks: “Who are the five to 10 individuals most important in the execution of your disruption strategy? Rate them on a -1-to +5 scale for the social capital you have with them. Research shows the average is barely ‘2,’ where a 5 is required for the social capital needed for meaningful disruption. The next question then becomes “would those same people be willing to sacrifice some of their own agenda to help you grow and fulfill your digital innovation goals?”

How do the Moschella and Ferazzi scenarios compare with what you’ve experienced in your enterprise? How have you gone about building the social capital necessary for disruptive change?

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