22 Ways to Digitally Transform, Innovate and Compete for the Future

28 September, 2017 / Articles
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With the abundance of digital transformation and corporate innovation success stories, the possibilities for change and progress are seemingly abundant.  Yet in my ongoing research on the subjects, I consistently find a majority of companies missing the “why” and overall purpose for digital transformation and innovation. But, without knowing why or without defining vision or purpose for change, digital transformation and innovation are limited in their impact, relevance and overall competitiveness.

Sure, decision-makers are paying attention to disruptive trends. Yes, they’re also increasing investments and efforts to survive digital Darwinism. I believe that executives want to do the right thing. Many see the need for change. The challenge is though, that many of today’s decisions concerning the future are all too often rooted in the past. At the same time, the most innovative companies are learning to unlearn, shifting from legacy mindsets to modern perspectives to see challenges and opportunities differently. Without doing so, the scope and impact of transformation and innovation is finite.

It’s All in Your Mind: You can’t open new doors with old ways

Digital transformation and innovation are limited or limitless in possibilities as defined by mindsets and perspectives. Numerous decision-makers aren’t personally disrupted (yet) by the same forces affecting markets. They don’t feel or appreciate it. It’s not their fault however. They’re going through life and work based on their experiences, what they believe is true and how their efforts are measured. But at the same time, disruptive technologies are influencing human behaviors, thinking, values, etc.

New generations of customers and employees are moving in alternative directions that are not instinctual to those working in legacy models. What they think is the right thing to do can be counterintuitive to the actual solution. Since they don’t live their business in similar ways to developing generations of connected customers and employees, it’s easy for psychology to get in the way.

There’s a quote by Leo Tolstoy that I often share, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” For example, it’s not uncommon, and quite human actually, to let cognitive bias or validation bias prevent or hinder seeing the impact and genuine rationale for outside changes. It’s difficult to see the world for what it is. Instead it’s easy to see it as “we are.”

Unfortunately, without seeing things differently, we cannot do things differently. Limited perspective leads to iteration at best—doing the same things better. Innovation, on the other hand, is doing new things that creates new value. Only a combination of the two can provoke disruption, which is doing new things that make the old things obsolete.

Modernizing Value-Propositions: What it means to be a business today

The disruption that many businesses face is part technological, but mostly human.

Take a minute to think what it means to be in business today. Sure, it’s about profit, creating shareholder/stakeholder value, building something great, etc. The models we use to construct, manage and grow were developed in a different genre where market and human dynamics were hierarchical and structured. Disruptive technology though, is doing just that…it’s disrupting…everything.

People are connected, informed, empowered, influential and becoming more demanding along the way. This sets the stage for a new era of business that’s more human, purposeful and adaptive.

The winds of change are blowing but decision-makers are insulated in aerodynamic boardrooms. If we cannot first disrupt ourselves, we cannot disrupt anyone or anything.

Opening Your Mind to a Disruptive Perspective: 22 ways to compete for the future  

This article was inspired by a recent conversation with Steve Sirich, VP of Marketing for Bing Ads, on “Disruptive Perspective.” In our discussion, we dissected and explored the state of business and what the most progressive companies of every size are doing differently to compete for the future. I unpacked the entire conversation and turned it into a series of action items. The goal is to help executives get the “why” and “how” and find purpose, new direction and relevance to strengthen digital transformation and innovation strategies.

Episode One: The State of Disruption

Intro: A brief history of why I study digital transformation, corporate innovation, culture 2.0 and experience design and why businesses need to embrace digital anthropology and social science.

  1. Get an outside-in view of the real world: The current state of disruption and innovation and what it means to executives today.
  2. Stop iterating and operating in the confines of business as usual: The need and purpose for business model innovation.
  3. See innovation as an investment and execute and measure as such: Innovation is not a cost-center, it’s an investment in future value. Unilever’s approach to managing shareholders/stakeholders.
  4. Assess where you are in the digital evolution ecosystem: What it means to operate in an era of digital Darwinism.

Episode Two: Meet Generation C (Connected Customers and Employees)

  1. Take a step back and get into the mind of Generation-C: How to engage with today’s consumer and employee and how are they different today.
  2. Realize you’re not customer-centric today and take the first step to become so: Why companies are shareholder/stakeholder-centric vs. customer-centric and why that needs to change to be human-centered.
  3. See technology beyond its capabilities and cool factor and explore impact on behavior: The need to understand technology’s impact on society, behavior, preferences, expectations and values.
  4. Refocus customer segmentation from demographics to psychographics: Why we need to stop talking about Millennials and other demographics and start learning about common interests, behaviors, preferences, values, etc.
  5. Rethink approach to markets to effectively connect with Generation-C: What brands and marketers need to do to reach Generation-C.
  6. Re-imagine value propositions for a new generation of customers: Why companies need to shift value-propositions from products to experiences.
  7. Look outside your industry to see customer shifts in value: What brands can learn from the music industry.
  8. Start from the inside to modernize how your work and why: Why updating strategies, policies and terms of service will modernize business relevance CX.
  9. Stop limiting competitive analysis to traditional competitors: A look at Sephora’s approach to digital transformation and innovation.

Episode 3: Transforming the Organization

  1. Identify missing expertise, roles and opportunities for collaboration: Rethinking and retooling the way companies work – business model innovation.
  2. Empower the workforce: Creating an operational culture that supports experimentation and innovation.
  3. Ctrl-Alt-Del (aka reboot) how you manage, train, and grow employees: The role of HR in digital transformation and innovation.
  4. Benchmark your progress against The Six Stages of Digital Transformation- Altimeter and Prophet
  5. Prioritize corporate culture to foster creativity and innovation: Ten reasons your culture is failing and new insights on how to fix it – GapingVoid
  6. Explore why your corporate culture is hindering change (because it is): Why business face a digital culture challenge – CapGemini
  7. Find your change agents to accelerate change: The need to empower change agents and the role of psychology in growth.
  8. Break down hierarchical processes to creativity and invention: The importance of democratizing ideas and collaboration (not just top down and highest paid person in the room)
  9. All stories of transformation and innovation start with personal change…learn and unlearn: Why now’s the time to learn and unlearn.

The science man and innovator, Fernando Fischmann, founder of Crystal Lagoons, recommends this article.

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