I Know I Need to Change – Now What?

Do any of the following look familiar? Lack of leadership, hesitation from leadership, lack of skills, lack of alignment, culture challenges, unclear metrics for success, difficulty attracting talent, lack of employee buy-in, fear of failure, ambiguity surrounding accountability, lack of customer centricity, digital as a bolt-on, lack of empowerment.

That’s not an exhaustive list, but if you recognize any of this, you’re not alone. These are all common challenges companies face as they try to wrestle with the inevitability of change in every industry. We call it the Vortex of Change here at Intel. What do you do to avoid becoming the next Blockbuster or Kodak, knowing that your movie ends badly if you do nothing at all?

This is business reinvention in a digital age. What does that look like? How do I do it? This is uncharted territory for many since the rules have changed and the legacy of what made you successful in the past might, in fact, be what holds you back in the future. In this series of four blog posts, we’ll take a look at the key steps you can take to reimagine or redefine what your business is.

It’s Time to Reinvent Your Business for a Digital World

Transformation starts with acknowledging change is needed. If you don’t have that, then it might be a good time to look around and ask if you have the right leadership. This isn’t business as usual. This kind of disruption is unprecedented and puts everyone in a VUCA state (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous). Ultimately, if you can navigate your way through this, you end up on the other side of VUCA: a state of vision, understanding, clarity, and agility.

So, on the assumption there’s real desire to change, what now?

Change Starts at the Top with a Digital Business Vision

This is where you start; a singular view of what the business looks like in the future. I don’t mean by 2020. That might resemble an evolution of the current state. Unshackle yourself from time frames. Your business will be different in the future. It’s up to senior leadership to agree on what that is.

There are three things to keep in mind as you do that:

  • Make Digital a Mindset
  • Be Unified and Evergreen
  • Remember: Failure Is Part of Success

Make Digital a Mindset

Digital has to be in your DNA. This comes from having the right level of digital literacy in the leadership team. If you don’t have this across the board, your vision for the future might resemble a cost cutting exercise, and you can’t simply save your way to transformation. It doesn’t work like that unless you want to end up as the next chapter in someone’s book because you were either too big to fail or couldn’t change fast enough.

It’s also a very smart step to explore ideas and opinions from across the workforce, tapping into your human sensor network which may have a pulse on the market you hadn’t considered or seen. This also engages many parts of the company in shaping the future. This is important because believers become advocates, and employees who feel their ideas are of value will feel more invested in the process.

Be Unified and Evergreen  

You need one vision for the future instead of multiple incarnations, which happens more than you might think. This doesn’t mean you can’t create business strategies to support the vision that takes different forms. However, remember that vision and strategy, while related, aren’t the same thing. A unified vision is key to ensuring the organization understands where you’re headed and can buy in and provide support. Multiple versions of your vision simply create fragmentation, slow you down, and do not help you get people to embrace it and believe in it.

Your vision also needs to be evergreen. That means it needs to be fungible because the market will change and it’ll change in time frames that require adjustment. Don’t set it in concrete.

Remember: Failure Is Part of Success

Perfection is overrated in today’s business environment. The pace of the market means you have to operate at the speed of the customer. So, you need to evolve to a philosophy of “good enough.” If you wait for everything to be perfect, you’ll wait a long time. By the time you think you’ve reached perfection, the market will have shifted, and you’re back to emulating instead of innovating.

If you’re truly operating at the speed of the customer, inherent in that is the fact that sometimes things won’t work exactly the way you expected. That’s totally okay — so long as you listen, learn, and iterate so the next version is better. You also need to reward failure. Often, I see fear of retribution if something is lost or doesn’t work out. That mentality needs to change. I’ll discuss enabling the workforce more in a blog post later in this series.

Once You Have a Vision, It’s Time to Start Planning

By now, it should be pretty clear that the place to start your digital transformation is with company leadership. Your leadership team needs a clear, unified vision that fits into the constantly evolving digital world. Once you have that, you can get to work on a digital strategy to deploy your new vision.

In the next three posts in this series, I’ll cover the development of a digital strategy, how to adjust your workplace culture and enable your workforce, and finally, how the right digital business platform can make change possible for the whole organization. In the meantime, you can keep up with business leadership at Intel at our blog or sign up for the IT Center newsletter.