In today’s world where technological advancements and disruptive tech startups are changing how we live, work, and play at an unprecedented pace, leaders in all sectors must align their organizations simultaneously on two important fronts. Both fronts are competing for an organization’s behaviors, activities, and resources. One front requires meeting the performance requirements of the thriving existing business, while the other requires dramatic reimagination and reinvention. Organizations must simultaneously focus on running the existing business at its peak performance, while also continuously innovating for the future. To succeed on both fronts, the organizations should be equipped with a different mindset, skillset, and toolset.
Running current services/products offerings at peak performance
Running the organization at its performance is all about continuous optimizing the current business model with incremental changes, adapting to the new technologies like cloud, mobile, platform implementations, marketing automation, etc. Optimizing the current business model requires a comprehensive understanding of your current organization activities from the suppliers, vendors, employees, and all the way to customer feedback. It is important to keep scanning the ecosystem that your business model belongs to and is changing and how it could impact your customers, vendors, and other activities. What activities can the organization do so it can leverage these quickly and seek new opportunities and have a competitive advantage. Organizations should constantly make adjustments to their customer journey map based on the changes in the ecosystem, technologies, and customer behavior, etc.
Creating the future starting now
The challenge for every organization is about the future. We all hope that we have a magic wand to know the future, so we are better prepared, but unfortunately, we do not have that luxury. Ignoring the future because your existing business is running efficiently and profitably is the biggest mistake any organization can ever do. The future is never very clear, so we have prepared to get clarity of the future and that can happen by preparing for it starting today not tomorrow or another day or when your existing business is sinking. That will be too late. The future of the company is going to be shaped by what you are doing today. How do we prepare for the future? Here are a few ways you can be prepared for the future. First, be on the lookout for changes in the ecosystem like technology changes, the economy changes cultural changes, consumer behaviors and tastes, and demographic changes. They provide a great insight and are the key elements that you can take in account and build a hypothesis and develop an experiment to get clarity on how those changes can change your business model or create new opportunities. Second, create a culture where change is a status quo. This would happen if you build an intelligent company with growth mindset in every employee's mind. Few ways to do it is to create interdepartmental teams that share knowledge, create experiments, and constantly learn through experiments. There are several methodologies like design thinking, lean, agile, etc, that organizations can adopt that will provide a clear direction on how to innovate and change. Third, hire for people that have very deep skills in one area but have broader knowledge about other areas that will help them to understand the problem better, have empathy, curious, eager, and be more creative. They are now called “T” shaped people. Finally, the leadership is the key to change as a success for the future is not on what we have created but what we have learned as time progress through experimenting.
Unlearning to Learn
Another biggest challenge for most of the organizations are unlearning the past habits, processes, and skills. The startups' advantage is that they do not have to address this problem, so they are fast and agile in getting their products/services into the market. The incumbents face a challenge to unlearn especially the ones that are helping them to grown and are efficient today. Some of these skills, processes, and habits are very timely for existing growth but might be a hindrance for the future. But unlearning is the most important thing in order to be successful in the future to create something new that needs new habits, processes, skillsets, etc. Organizations have to constantly evaluate what skills, habits, processes that might impend for their future growth and start to unlearn them and pave the way to the future.
Borrow past strengths
As much as unlearning the past is important the strengths that organizations process from the past is very important too. The unlearning is about habits, processes, and skillsets while strengths that organizations have that startups can do not have is brand recognition, existing customer relationships, supply chain networks, infrastructure, and of course for many organizations they have the capital.
Organizations cannot focus on one of these areas, but the key to its success is keeping all these areas in balance. Keeping them in balance is a disciplined and cyclical process. A great benefit to this balance is that a growth mindset cultural is built in the organization. With a growth mindset, the organization is more agile than ever. A change will no longer be something to fear. When unexpected change comes, your organization will be able to act purposefully instead of impulsively reacting.
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