As companies continue to embark on the journey of digital transformation, a key question stands before their leaders – Do they embrace a leadership style of “Change Catalyst” or “Guardian of Tradition?” Most organizations have recognized the value of Lean Principles and have adopted organizational initiatives to increase this school of thought. Further, the terms “Muda” – removal of obvious and hidden wastes, and “Kaizen” – continuous improvement by removing bottlenecks, are increasingly heard in the SAP ecosystem.
If you have been in the SAP space for more than a decade, you would recollect that SAP software is designed with a certain level of robustness in terms of business process and system architecture. Further, the very thought of integrating SAP with 3rd party systems/non-SAP systems was a challenging endeavor. SAP has reduced this barrier in recent years by moving into a Cloud-first architecture and increasing its ability to seamlessly integrate with other non-SAP systems.
As SAP makes this shift in its technology approach it needs to be augmented by a change in leadership approach in the organizations implementing SAP. However, quite often you find two opposite spectrum types of technology leaders in these companies. The first category is the “Guardian of Tradition”, these are seasoned leaders who have been in the SAP space for many years and have led successful implementations, and large-scale process change projects. Further, these leaders cultivate a culture of leveraging existing established practices. They believe in the predictable evolution of technology or products. The debatable aspect is “Does this approach adapt at the pace of changing business demands”.
This question leads to the second category of Leaders, “Change Catalysts”. These leaders create opportunities by fashioning the future through strategic choices. Further, they are champions of Lean and promote Agile methodologies in their work. They constantly find themselves challenging the status quo within the team and in the broader context of the organization. They operate in Mode 2 of Bi-Modal IT architecture to scale the responsiveness of innovation. With intense passion and the ability to foresee a future state for the organization, these leaders often tend to inspire other talents within the organization. Additionally, these leaders adopt the lean product development methodology even in the context of traditional SAP implementation projects by defining MVP and proving a capability before embarking on a major project.
What’s your leadership style? Do you find one relevant over the other?
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