the zig, the zag and a thunderous noise.

Digitalisation is creating a giant snowball effect of insecurity and many companies are vulnerable, sitting in the path of a tumbling, all-consuming avalanche. Leaders are struggling to set a digital strategy, and many employees fear losing their jobs. It's at this point the keynote would reach for the buzzwords "be agile"! I would say, learn to ski, and fast. 

Like avoiding a fir tree or a lounging bear when skiing, thethree dimensions we all need right now are; hyperawareness, informed decision-making and fast execution. Hyperawareness is related to the ability to detect and monitor changes that digitalisation entails - changing consumer tastes, for example, changes in technology, changes in employee preferences and other external and internal trends.

Employees who are hyperaware possess certain skills. They are open-minded, passionate to learn new things, not easily satisfied, they are also good listeners and have a high empathy. Perhaps one could say they are good in ‘reverse thinking’ and ‘thinking out of the box’. In any case, they are highly aware that they are ‘in a box’, and are prepared to question their own assumptions and prejudices. Informed decision-making is a company’s ability to take the information that was obtained by being hyper-aware, in order to make fact based decisions. This is where the majority of organisations struggle the most. Act quickly, because the main reason a business wouldn’t, is fear; the fear that holds back a decision from being made costs time and money and sometimes the learnings from the value of a bad decision can outweigh the material costs. 

The traditional path of execution is often made on the basis of experience or intuition. But these can both be deceiving. Thus, a hyper-aware organisation needs to check whether ‘that’s how we’ve always done things’ is still relevant to apply, and whether a decision makers ‘gut feeling’ is correct. Decisions that shape the company’s future should be taken with data analytics and information with greater insights to action. Sometimes, this means the strategy of a company has to be redefined, while giving voice to the overturn of daily routine. In other words; datadriven decisions can affect both long-term ‘marathons’ as well as short-term ‘sprints’. To be as sure as possible the decisions are well informed, the data should be analysed critically. Data does not speak for itself, the people analysing  the data have to ask the right questions, excelling in data analysis on the basis of smart insights. Good data analysts should understand the customer, have general business acumen and be able to interpret data into valuable actions for the business. Fast execution is a company’s ability to implement plans quickly and effectively.

The capability to execute quickly requires a willingness to experiment within an organisation and a willingness to let go of the past. Also, a tolerance for ambiguity is important and failures should be accepted - if and only if all the data needed to make a well-informed decision is not always available. At the same time, this requires employees to see a broader overview of the organisation’s mission, vision, goals and strategic plans. Finally, action reviews are important not to forget; to be sure actions are aligned with the overarching strategy of an organisation.

Analysis on the basis of smart insights

Good data analysts should understand the customer, have general business acumen and be able to interpret data into valuable actions for the business. Fast execution is a company’s ability to implement plans quickly and effectively. The capability to execute quickly requires a willingness to experiment within an organisation and a willingness to let go of the past. Also, a tolerance for ambiguity is important and failures should be accepted - if and only if all the data needed to make a well-informed decision is not always available. At the same time, this requires employees to see a broader overview of the organisation’s mission, vision, goals and strategic plans. Finally, action reviews are important not to forget; to be sure actions are aligned with the overarching strategy of an organisation. 

Industry-convergence is driving the need for cultural transformation. Whether organisations are big or small, silos are the enemy of a strong culture. The paradox of a strong culture is that it allows for competing commitments, which cause valued employees to behave in ways that seem inexplicable and irremediable, and this is enormously frustrating to managers. If managed well, it will lead to an even stronger culture. There are three main categories an organisation needs to win ‘best-in-show’ in order to drive cultural transformation: Intensity. Intensity matters: the opposite is a process that works but without any push. Alignment, this is needed to keep things moving on the right track, in the right direction during the transformation. Paradoxically, alignment and fit versus diversity of opinion are both necessary for sound decision making. Persistence. Without it, commitment to change will not push through the necessary steps. As industry boundaries are becoming blurred, strategic clarity is more dynamic than ever before. The quote: "plans are nothing, planning is everything” is so true in this ever-changing world.

This article first appeared HR Director Magazine #161, March 2018
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