To make headway in a disruptive environment, many organizations need to embrace the constancy of change — “steady state” has left the building! Businesses also have to recognize the necessity of differentiation - retaining existing customers, winning new ones through a portfolio of differentiated, integrated, safe experiences is vital. This mindset doesn’t only apply to the commercial sector; the government will have to shift as well. This changing business landscape represents either a huge opportunity or a huge threat. In the end, it all depends on how you respond.
Challenges and Opportunities
The future of business is still a little unclear. Bob Johansen, a noted futurist, describes the challenges of the current moment with a handy acronym: VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity). We have volatile markets, not to mention an uncertain and complex future filled with choices that often seem ambiguous.
The VUCA world affects us all, challenging and changing the way organizations need to think about future strategies. It can’t be business as usual because the environment is very much business as unusual.
But there’s a silver lining: Tackled correctly, VUCA can evolve to “Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Agility.” Central to this is a quantum shift in culture, getting people on board and really believing in the future you’re trying to create — even if it’s still a bit amorphous. Those who are reading this and have started down this path will realize how hard this can be. The journey tests the metal of even the most driven and committed executives and the employees who work for them. It’s also important to underscore the importance of the employee’s role in all of this. They are what makes any company successful so it’s key to ensure that strategies written on whiteboards really do become integral parts of the operating DNA across the organization else you run the risk of creating a vacuum between strategy and execution. I’ve seen this a lot lately.
The Oncoming Wave of Automation
The Vortex of Change is a hurricane, a shifting maelstrom of technological, business, and cultural changes that are transforming and disrupting both the public and private sectors. Consumers and citizens are demanding more rapid, accessible service and abandoning models that were once completely functional and robust.
But one of the gifts of the Vortex of Change is a lesson. Change is a fixture of a healthy marketplace; viewing it as an asset and a companion rather than an enemy can be an effective strategy for building a sustainable transformation effort. Many of the stakeholders I spoke to in the Australian public and private sectors were completely on board with the rise of automation and the potential it holds to help transform their processes and their employees’ relationships to providing services.
Tens of millions of knowledge worker jobs worldwide will be altered or changed by automation. Thinking about how to best prepare for this eventuality is occupying the minds of many executives. This isn’t always easy given that many of the jobs people will occupy over the next couple of decades have yet to be invented. This realization often leads to paralysis, because the evolution of the business of government strategy is often based on the surety of what’s coming next. We live in a world where we don’t have that clarity. But the lack of clarity doesn’t mean you do nothing. Standing still sets you up for disruption. That’s not the side of the coin you want to be on as an organization.
Everyone agrees that disruption is coming or is already here, but many are struggling to shift their organizations toward a common vision or goal. In my experience, this is vital. The inability to align business interests and strategies results in more inefficiencies, silos, fragmentation, and slowed progress. It also doesn’t help the employees if they have many different versions of the business's “truth.”
Many of the conversations I had revolved around trying to get various stakeholders to agree on what transformation looks like and what we can expect moving forward. Many were surprised that Intel is much more interested in leading with this “transformation” approach rather than immediately pitching products or solutions.
At the end of the day, we’re navigating our way through this Vortex of Change as much as any of our customers and partners are. If we simply keep doing the same things the same way, we can’t expect to improve our relevance and its impact. This mentality of thoughtful change and aligned strategy is what we want to bring to our customers.