For those among us who grew up listening to and reading a varied assortment of literature – what really lit up the imagination were some of the tales from Hindu epics and mythology. My earliest memory is this intriguing sub-plot from The Bhagvata Purana - the story of the churning of the ocean or the Amrit Manthan – which, in retrospect, represents the perfect case of strategy by the Devas in their conflict with the demons, the Asuras - right from getting the Amrit, the nectar of immortality, to emerging victorious through sheer presence of mind.
If one were to transplant these scenarios into the world today, the larger lesson is not in drawing from the argument that they are but mere pieces of adroit fiction, that they not relevant anymore, but in delving deeper into what they did right.
A couple of thoughts stand out in these parables from a mythical, bygone past that digital leaders can chew off, while contemplating their digital legacy.
Stay real (Accept and Anticipate)
This can be achieved only when a digital leader keeps his eyes and ears open - is in touch with what is happening around him – internally and externally.
The ground reality of the SWOT - of business needs outside, people and the IT infrastructure within the organization and what really exists, and where peers are moving as far as technology and business innovation are concerned – is the first learning one can have.
If one isolate himself from immediate stakeholders, the chances of being misled or fed a reality that is driven for an illusionary outcome or engagement - are much higher. The greatest of digital –business leaders, including Steve Ballmer, have fallen victim to isolation and stagnation in their tenure as leaders. Call for data, seek the help of analytics while presenting a business case or while making an investment decision. Keeping one’s digital roadmap nimble, scalable and future-proof is critical, else it will be the case of barking up the wrong tree – dead weight, and cost heavy with no return in sight.
Stay relevant (Evolve and Innovate)
An established leader who redefines his role at frequent intervals is the one who can fight ennui and can evolve and create innovative opportunities for his team as well. If there is no change of role in sight, then it is best to make a wish-list for oneself of:
- Fresh opportunities in the role
- Upgradeable skillsets or domain exploration
It is also important to ask oneself if one has:
- leveraged every opportunity till date
- harnessed every connection in one’s professional network
- the drive to build a sustainable digital legacy
Lastly, never underestimate the power of conversations with peers. These will help assess opportunities objectively, and also your role, prospects of evolution and also understand what your peers have been doing to further their roles, digital agenda etc.
While there is never one panacea to immortality, “The Churning of the Ocean” is a constant journey to attaining the elixir of life – through different nuggets of change. So, it is prudent to ask: is the legacy of digital infrastructure of my organization ever ready to transform?