Three steps to transform into a future-ready business
To thrive in an age of disruption, organizations need a future-ready business model and culture. Here are three steps for getting it right.
It’s one thing for companies to recognize they need to redefine the way they do business to succeed in an age of disruption. It’s another thing entirely to understand how to achieve that. How do companies get started on their transformation journeys? How must they change their ways of working? How can they become more digitally mature and, ultimately, more future-ready?
Experience has shown us that organizations need two integral components to be successful:
- A future-ready business model capable of nimbly addressing the business’s evolving needs (from increasing the bottom line to differentiating its products/services)
- And, equally important, an organizational culture that fosters employees to be capable of working, innovating, continuous learning, and leading under any and all market conditions.
Today’s razor-thin margins for error and rapid pace have changed the rules of the game. To enhance productivity and profitability, organizations must adopt more agile ways of working, give team members greater decision-making authority, and sincerely embrace the mindset that perfect is the enemy of good. This requires leaders who think more strategically, executive teams that are willing to accept failure as the price of success, and a culture conducive to constant experimentation, testing, and reiteration.
Transforming into this type of future-ready organization won’t be easy, especially since it’s best to address both business model and cultural change simultaneously. The key is to approach the transition as an ongoing journey where you can implement the right best practices for your organization and make tweaks along the way.
Before you embark on any journey, you need to know where you’re heading. That’s why the first step toward becoming future-ready involves clearly defining your ambitions, scanning the market to uncover areas of potentially untapped value, and crafting a vision statement that reflects what you’d like your organization to become.
The goals you set don’t need to be realistic. In fact, they should be as audacious as possible. The purpose of this exercise is to get your organization thinking bigger than it has in the past. What will it take to become a disruptor and leader in your industry and market? What are the pie-in-the-sky employee and customer experiences you’d like to create? What mindsets, traits, and behaviours would you like to amplify to engage your people better and to generate industry-leading results?
User journeys, customer stories, moment maps, and immersive labs can bring these new ideas to life and help you link your aspirations to in-flight initiatives and offerings used in the market. This lets you do more than imagine the transformation path ahead, it also allows you to set the organizational bar high and encourage everyone to reach new heights.
Once you have an idea of the type of organization you’d like to become, it’s time to transform by doing. This means that rather than holding seminars to teach your employees how to become innovative, collaborative thinkers, you’re going to throw them in the deep end by immersing them in a mini-journey. This can be a single project or initiative in one specific department, one that’s big enough to make an impact and encourage a new way of working, leading, and behaving, but not so big it gets buried in bureaucracy and requests for approvals.
For instance, if you’re a financial services company whose overarching goal is to become more in tune with your customers, your first step could be to enhance your digital experience. You would create a cross-functional team—comprising architects, designers, developers, business stakeholders, and legal, finance, and regulatory representatives—and encourage the team members to identify existing issues and work together to find solutions.
To help shape this effort, consider encouraging your team to conduct customer and employee ethnographic research and to adopt a consistent approach to distilling ideas into marketable products and services.
This immersive approach has many benefits. Not only does it prompt your employees to rewire their thinking and learn to problem-solve in a whole new way, but it also creates best practices for future journeys and a blueprint on which to base them. In this example, it positions you to revamp your decision-making, operational, and leadership processes as well as enhance your digital experience so that you emerge with both a modern banking platform and a new way of engaging across the organization.
It’s important to keep the momentum going to prevent sliding back into the familiar. Establish common standards for scalability and support across all dimensions of your transformation effort. This means getting proper agile training from the outset—before launching a journey, team members should know and understand the role of the scrum master, the relevant daily and weekly rituals, and the expectations of working in a cross-functional team. There should be a strong, well-informed organization transformation leader at the helm, who’s responsible for identifying new transformational journeys and ensuring teams are using common terminology.
Those initial journeys should also be quick wins—projects that generate results quickly, and get the entire organization talking—and help you identify your agile rock stars, or the influencers that will share best practices and inspire the rest of the organization to move forward.
At the same time, traditional change management practices should be in place. You need to consider the multiple personas that make up your organization, consider how they each respond to change; and strive to establish buy-in and consensus from all of them. While a lot of your workforce may be excited by your organization’s journey toward the future, others may feel disenfranchised by it—so it’s important to take steps to manage that.
Your best face forward
Given the pace at which business is changing, perfect is the enemy of good when it comes to creating a lasting legacy of transformation. It’s much better to simply get started on your modernization journey rather than waste time striving to get it right.
By following these three steps: thinking big, starting small and scaling sustainably, this new way of thinking should swiftly become second nature. Within a year, your business should be well on its way to becoming future-ready.
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