Reason 2 – Cognitive Dissonance is a real thing.
For the psychology majors among us (and yes you know who you are!), they will know the term cognitive dissonance.
”Cognitive Dissonance” is a clinical term used in psychology which basically describes the discomfort people feel when attempting to hold on, and foster, values & beliefs that are contradictory to each other.
For example, if you made a fortune out of business model “A” over the past 50 years, could you at the same time, really believe that business model “B” is the right way forward from here?
Leon Festinger, (who was the psychologist that founded the Theory of Cognitive Dissonance) would probably disagree. But lucky we’re not all psychologists, right?
Gerry, and many other CEOs and Senior Executives, of companies big and small, have all built up a considerable amount of knowledge and experience on the business that they operate in.
But all of that experience rests upon a foundation of business logic that is beginning to waver.
Quite often when you pursue a resolution to this conflict, it leads you down a road that ultimately makes you choose one of three possible choices;
- Recognise the situation for what it is, and seek to fight the good fight. Begin work on the very hard, and expensive exercise of transformation, which usually ends up toying with a notion like “how can we actively disrupt ourselves?” but ultimately if you can make it through, you’ll become your own version of Marvel Films, or the highly successful Lego.
- Pretend everything is ok. Brick and Mortar franchises still work. Print advertising is just having a bad day. Etc. Hold your breathe and hope for the best, and you’ll probably become Nokia.
- Recognise the situation for what it is, and buckle up. Look for some glory (like Bruce on the asteroid), and ride it all the way home in style. (a.k.a. …make a buck on the way down).
For those that choose option #1, bravo. Hand something down to your kids that isn’t like climate change. Make no mistake, it won’t be easy, just because you made the choice in the first place doesn’t automatically guarantee success. Know that many with the right intentions may still fail.
But, (and its a big but) if you do choose to transform, whatever your business, you’ll probably need some help.
Reason 3 – You Need Help
Even the great G.E. chose to get some outside help with their transformation, hiring Eric Ries the author of The Lean Startup to create “G.E. Fastworks” a program informed by Lean Startup principles, which was designed to take the flexible and transparent characteristics of a startup and combine them with GE’s size and resources to provide a pathway internally within G.E. through which idea’s could develop and innovation could be fostered.
Unfortunately, not all businesses are as well funded, or as insightful as G.E. but any company that has decided to change and embrace digital is going to need all the help they can get, because as we said at the beginning, change isn’t easy, it’s tough. It’s especially difficult for publicly listed companies (or other company structures where you have to answer to shareholders on regular basis) that can make it a real struggle.
It’s a tough order for any team to not only deliver the forecast return for your shareholders today & pay them a decent dividend, but simultaneously build the business of the future, without dropping a cent on the way through.
Privately owned businesses are, generally speaking, a little more free to make whatever decisions they please.
By getting outside help you get a fresh perspective on your business, and can create a program similar to that of GE where there is a ‘go fast’ mentality, and it can be immune from other internal forces that may seek to stifle its growth.
Reason 4 – You Need to Know Where to Look
There are some areas where you can look to see if you’re organisation is engaged in digital transformation, and these area’s aren’t just relevant for big corporations, they’re relevant to SME’s as well.
So whether you’re an owner of a business, or an employee in a business here are some areas where you can focus your attention;
- Take a look at the pipeline of future products and services that your company is creating.
- Firstly, is there one?
- If not, create one!
- Culturally, do they value innovation? Is it included in their mission statement?
- Think Silicon Valley’s “innovate or die”
- Or is that word synonymous with risk, danger and a quick exit?
- Are you including data as a central pillar in your strategic planning?
- Do you have the tools to do this?
- Do they have a list of digital transformation strategies that exist for the “why” over the long term, rather than specific “outcomes” related to a P&L boost in the short term?
- Is there a vein in the company that fosters digital disruption, digital innovation, and provides a pathway for idea development?
Unless you’re working as part of a platform based business model today, (like Uber or AirBnB), it’s highly unlikely that you’re aligned to a central digital business strategy, and are working everyday with the right action plans and digital tools to be competitive in the future.
That doesn’t mean you need to give up, and quit, or sell your business. What is does mean is that you need to embrace digital as a core part of your strategic planning process, even if it means going back to business school and throwing out some of that foundational business logic you’ve held so dear for so long (scary i know).
But I also know, that if you don’t challenge that fundamental business logic you learnt 20 years ago, then any digital transformation initiative that you come up with will be fundamentally flawed.
You can’t just buy some technology off the shelf, plug it in, and away you go. Although there are many, many snake oil salesmen out there with the latest shiny new toy who will make you believe that.
Recognise that the external environment has changed. What you thought were your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats even 5 years ago, are likely to be very different today.
Today’s SWOT analysis needs to cover things like data collection, and business innovation, platforms and customer networks.
You need to change your thinking. Your underlying business logic. And that is tough.
But if you’re lucky enough to be part of a business that does want to tackle digital transformation. Then go for it. Grab arms with your teammates and work hard, …for the future (long term) is bright.
MD & Founder of Remap Online
Building brands and transforming business’, through Creative, Content & Commerce.
If you’re a business that is looking to embrace the digital future, and you’re looking for some help. Please, reach out. We’re here, and we have a lot of experience in helping the brands of today transform into the business of tomorrow. Contact Us today!