As economic times worsen, many executives will seek sweeping cuts. While the dominant mantra will be "Slash to survive," those who can see beyond the current situation will be chanting "Flex to thrive."
A "slash" strategy—while sometimes unavoidable—is a negative response resulting in significantly reduced capacity to grow and prosper in the future. A more considered "flex" strategy will seek new ways of operating to generate increased capacity and opportunity.
Large enterprises must seek opportunities to further leverage global talent to develop new sources of competitive advantage. Evolving digital information and communication technologies are making possible the creation of virtual workspaces (what I call WorkWebs or WoWs) in which global talent can collaborate. In a knowledge-driven economy, developing competitive advantage is dependent on collaborative work in which people mix their knowledge, skills, and experiences to create new value. As training and development professionals, we increasingly will be called upon to help create hot zones of innovation and productivity at the talent-technology interface.
Companies are continuing to invest in Web 2.0 and other collaborative technologies, and these tools are having an impact on internal management/leadership practices and structures. A key question for us is what do these changes mean for leaders in our companies?
Demonstrating digital global leadership means to practice virtual environmentalism—being someone who helps develop and maintain the environmental conditions enabling effective global collaboration in virtual space. Choice of technologies goes some way toward shaping the environmental conditions for collaboration. Some technologies, for example, allow for significant contextual information to be communicated, e.g., tone of voice, facial expressions, and eye movements. Others are relatively context poor, e.g., e-mail. Along with facilitating appropriate technological use, digital leaders also must focus awareness on what I call "The Six Cs of Global Collaboration"—essential qualities or principles conducive to virtual global collaboration. By focusing attention on each essential quality, digital leadership promotes collaborative mind-sets and behaviors to develop competitive advantage. What is the Six C framework, and what questions should a digital leader ask?