“Who do you think you are?” is a popular genealogy documentary series that has aired on BBC since 2004 and is now also made in more than 10 international countries. In each programme a celebrity traces their family history and usually identifies at least one very interesting character from their family tree. Each programme throws up insights for the participant as to how they have ended up where they are and quite often who they are as a person.
It would be very interesting to do this as an organisation. Obviously, some organisations are very new, some are short lived but others have gone through at least one metamorphosis and can be completely changed from the organisation that started out. Such a look back is informative when you are looking towards your organisation’s future. As we fully enter the digital age it is vitally important that as organisations we constantly review where we are and where we are going.
The biggest challenge facing leaders as they tackle these very questions is how to define, visualise or give meaning to where they exist in the digital space. In the analogue world, things are more widely understood. As organisations, we are defined by geography, industry, sector and size. In the digital space the parameters have changed. Customers rule the digital world, and it is they who dictate the winners and losers.
Organisations who provide products and services to customers in the most effective, affordable and convenient way are growing and attracting more customers. Others are finding their profits being nibbled at by new competitors entering their space. Companies who reinvent products and services that fundamentally change the marketplace are disruptors and are getting lots of kudos.
In the digital world, our concept of self must be formed from an outside-in perspective, not inside-out. We must understand how our customers perceive us, how they respond to our value proposition and why they might choose our products or services over our competitors’.
If leaders are tasked with creating a vision of the future, how do they go about it?
Leaders need to understand the principles underlying changes and moves in the digital marketplace to be able to spot opportunities for growth.
Leaders need to understand the rules of the game to avoid disruption.
Leaders need to be able to articulate where we are now, where we can go and how to get there to be able to give direction to the teams that will make it happen.
Leaders need to be able to ask the right questions to stimulate innovation and creativity in their people.
Leaders need to be able to leverage existing assets, new technologies and digital communications to create new competitive advantage.
Leaders don’t need the technical know-how, they just need the tools, mindset and methods to be able to frame discussions, direct effective action and bring teams along that journey.
For leaders who are ready to make this leap, we have created a tool: our digital transformation framework. It gives leaders the means to create digital business strategies, simulate outcomes of new business models and quantify opportunities for growth. It unifies leadership, technology and marketing. It gives everyone a shared language and common vision for where they’re going and how to get there. It uses evidence to underpin all decision making. It’s a practical, data-driven tool for change.
In the digital world (just as the analogue world) the only constant is change.
It’s the accelerated pace of change that is making this change in leadership mindset both urgent and important. Perhaps the question of who you think you are should be followed up with who do you want to be? A truly digital leader or a relic of the past?