How can you survive and thrive in the post-digital world?

Last week, Simply Get Results exhibited at the Disruption Summit 2019, an event designed to help business flourish in the digital and post-digital eras. There were numerous speakers and sessions designed to provoke thinking and challenge the status quo. From the talks, break-out sessions and conversations, We have distilled our findings into 3 priorities to help your organisation in today’s world:

  1. Societal changes just as much as technological advancement have changed the environment in which businesses exist. Understand the forces affecting your market and consumers.
  2. Success requires bolder and braver innovation. Businesses that foster and facilitate this increase their ability to transition into the post digital world.
  3. Considering the impact on employees and society as well as financial performance is an obligation, not a choice.

We have consolidated our insights starting with: 4 forces impacting businesses and people’s lives

  1. Respect for social impact and impetus for social change.

    Government instability, climate crisis, and the questioning of whether capitalism is the strongest motivator for growth has meant power has shifted towards the individual and away from the institution. Customers and consumers are fickle, and this can be destabilising. Increasingly, people are looking for ‘purpose’ in the businesses they endorse and it becomes an increasingly important driver of business growth.

  2.  Transparency and trust.

    Younger generations have a different view on how identity is protected – we are relearning what identity, security and privacy mean. There is less trust in the hyperconnected world. The old axis of trust was based on size, age and credibility – e.g. we trusted banks because they were big and long-standing. This is changing- trust in institutions is eroding and our judgement on who to trust has changed. More access to data has made it harder to split information from disinformation.

  3. Difference vs conformity.

    The predominant economic model of last 150 stated that conformity drives growth. I.e. the more repeatable a business can be, the more sustained growth it will enjoy. Despite all our technological advances, robotics and AI still work on a similar mechanistic model, built on finding patterns. However, the challenges we face need new thinking, so repeatability will not necessarily work. Creating a true difference is essential to power innovation.

  4. Technology is increasing the pace of change.

    The speed of change makes it impossible for leaders to make decision on what technology to implement. Often, by the time it is embedded, it is outdated. Traditional organisational design makes it harder to respond to advances in a meaningful timeframe. In these situations, the traditional command and control structures will not lead to swift reinvention.The new leadership agenda is not ‘modest change’. This represents a radical and much needed shift in the mindset. When understood and exploited, these factors can create vast opportunity.

Building a positive human future

A recurring theme was the need for businesses to think about how they make positive impact on their employees and society. A new style of leadership is required for different types of organisations to emerge. The focus on purpose becomes an obligation, not a choice.

Traditionally, large organisations have relied on their size and capability which has steered toward conformity. Leaders have focused too heavily on the balance sheet – making them risk adverse, slow, and less able to take advantage of opportunities. Curious minds are often dampened in the large organisations, blinded by fear and defending their position in the market rather than focus on the scale of the opportunities presenting themselves. Our children have become less creative with the increase in passive consumption of digital media.

New style leaders need to think less about resources and more about ‘resourcefulness’, embracing creativity and curiosity. Finding and drawing out the innate characteristics of inspired and creative people unlocks the potential within organisations. Celebrate individual differences, challenge the status quo and inspire people at all levels to do the same.

“How can you as an individual and as a business be a force for good?”

How to unlock ingenuity in people and transform thinking?

  1. Nurture human optimism.

    Be on the lookout optimists, people with a growth mindset. These individuals see relevant connections in their work and fewer barriers.

  2. Empower teams to innovate by exploiting dissonance.

    Empower innovation and encourage difference of thought. Creative tension is healthy. Work with people who don’t think like you, harness the potential of having a workforce with differing experiences and approaches.

  3. Build evolving organisations on sand.

    Be adaptive and make decisions quickly. Think of organisations as organisms not mechanisms. Intuition is now critical to success. Allow people closest to the impact to make the decision. A meritocracy based on ideas helps leaders as they can’t know enough about everything. It also eliminates the risk of a single point of failure.

  4. Seek inspiration in surprising places.

    Look beyond your own sector and market for inspiration. Where can you exploit ideas from other businesses and cross purpose them? It’s likely the solution to your biggest challenge has probably already been found elsewhere.

Intrapreneurship

Companies can be disruptive and inspire radical innovation through Intrapreneurship. In a world where radical change is expected, how do you become a disruptor? The future of large organisations success depends on our ability to explore and experiment without jeopardising their existing business.

Big business technically has everything it needs to succeed but can end up defending their position to start-ups because they stop experimenting. There is a higher fear of failure which can inhibit growth.

Intrapreneurship requires curiosity and an ability to be ambidextrous with innovation and exploiting the existing opportunities. ‘Start small and think big’. Win empathy from your customers and Pretotype [sic] your ideas before they would even usually get to an actual prototype. For innovation hubs, encourage ‘radical exploration’ and ensure they have truly agile and different ways of working, sitting peripherally to core business functions. Innovation labs are the ideal hierarchy-free, organic organisms.

“Become a diplomatic rebel.” 

David Gram, Lego

Traits of disruptive companies

The Disruption50 Index: https://disruption50.com/ announced ‘the UK companies judged to be making the most of today’s opportunities’:

  • 20% were dedicated to making a positive impact in society showing that profitable business can be good for people and the planet too.
  • 12 of the top 50 companies were less than 3 years old and 14% were actively displacing their competition or making other solutions obsolete.
  • 10 companies had what was described as a ‘radically different business model’ showing innovation isn’t just focussed on technology.
  • Most were harnessing global markets and 9 operated in more than 50 countries.
  • 24% had at least one female founder.

Check out the list of top UK Disruptors here: Our highlights included hearing leaders from these two organisations:

“Considering the impact on employees and society as well as financial performance is an obligation, not a choice.” 

Frazer Bennett, PA Consulting

What Future Do We Want to Create?

With opportunity for change comes responsibility to think about what we are creating and how it impacts us and the world around us. The rate of technological change could lead us to be pessimistic about a dystopian future. This can inhibit our ability to see other possible alternative futures. When thinking about the future you want to create, be aware of the following:

  1. Platform power is key

    Think more about technology and less about geography – Technology has overcome geographical barriers and we are defined by “the cloud” rather than the land. Technology has enabled anything to go anywhere instantly. Leverage what is trackable, monitored, data driven, and decentralised to your best advantage.

  2. Data driven experiences are a reality

    It’s can be hard to differentiate what’s real and what’s not and this can make it harder to communicate. Be aware that the digital and analogue world are both ‘real’.

  1. Identity is increasingly complex

    The digital world allows people and businesses to portray themselves as they wish. You have the opportunity to decide how you come across and what future you want to create for yourself, your company and our society.