HR and digital
Let’s assume that there is a ‘digital skills gap’. Do we know the difference between digital and non-digital skills, and are they radically different I’d argue not, the core behaviours and competencies to navigate, thrive and survive complex human systems remain profoundly similar, if not the same in key respects.
The frustration for many is a failure to understand that the challenge is not one of technology (e.g. getting in this or that system) rather it is about culture change, organisation design, organisational change/transformation and the leadership skills and competencies which to go with that.
As McKinseys noted recently, in a report on the role of Chief Digital Officers (my itallics):
“… it’s the ability to lead transformation across an organization that is the true indicator of likely success in the role, and that requires a combination of hard and soft skills…the managerial ability to lead and see programs through to fruition.
The importance of soft skills should not be understated: some CDOs estimate they spend 80 percent of their time building relationships. In our experience, successful CDOs have the patience to navigate the complex organizational structures of large businesses; additionally, they collaborate to get buy-in across functions and are able to diplomatically challenge the status quo and solidify relationships with a broad group of people.”
Transformer in chief: The new chief digital officer. McKinsey & Co, September 2015
And that applies to all senior leaders, not just those in digital roles. Does that require senior leaders to become something they would not otherwise aspire to? No. It sharpens the need for them to improve themselves in ways they already should be, and for HR to get more supportive and challenging in terms of both highlighting what has changed, and crucially, not letting those they serve off the hook when it comes to addressing what really matters.