Workforce Disruption – Part 2 – Why most established large businesses are not fit-for-purpose, and what to do about it

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In the previous article I talked about how organisations were built for a world that no longer exists. Now we will look at how disruptors think differently and how organisations can look below the façade to survive and thrive in the digital era.

One of the biggest challenges organisations now face is that they have to be different from what they were. What they were before, worked for before, but it is not going to work as well for now, or next (if it works at all).
What worked before was based on predictability. Market structures changed slowly. Access to customers was limited. Demand could be controlled by suppliers and to bring a new product or service to market involved overcoming considerable barriers, and cost a great deal. Advertising and promotion was expensive. Success cost, and resource ruled.

Now is different.Digital has brought down barriers to entry. Anyone from anywhere can sell anything to anyone at any time. Digital is the final nail in the coffin of the supply driven demand chain. And when anyone can get to customers, customers have the power. They control demand, they filter the noise, they switch, they influence. Disruptors have embraced this and disruptors exhibit a set of behaviours. Firstly, almost all are engaging with their customers in new ways (that’s the social and mobile bit of SMAC). But it’s more than this. They have a laser focus on the customers. Everything they do is about customer outcomes. To support that, they are working in new ways. They don’t add complexity, they add value. Disrupting means doing new things. To do new things you need work in new ways. Ways which are 100% built around outcomes. Disruptors don’t work the way you work.

So the first step for any organisation is to understand customer outcomes

To express the interaction, the engagement, the touches, the transactions and everything else in customer terms. They also need to line up value chains. Many products and services require the use of long chains of activity to ultimately deliver value to customers.

Organisations also need to look at the value model specifically. Where is the value exchange? What is the customer looking for, and what are we looking for out of this? How can we build a model that meets the needs of both? If we cannot support the customer’s value needs now, what needs to change?

The next step is to look at the work itself

New ways of working are one of the core pillars of digital transformation. They are the product of your disruptive new mind set. What is the best way to achieve the customer outcome? Who needs to be involved. What skills and capability do they need? What support do they need? Where, when and how could they do it? And then how can we simplify it? How can we reduce the waste to spend more and more time on driving customer value, and do so more easily?

A word of caution at this point. None of this is a ‘one and done’ activity. Change is the new normal – the new business as usual. The pace of change is such that 12 months is now 12 weeks, 12 weeks now 12 days. We have advertising campaigns of seconds. So keep it light, empower bright people, and repeat, repeat, repeat.

The third step is how we now organise

For many organisations it’s time to start to rip up the org chart. The old structures are designed for command and control. New models enable and liberate. Teams and business units need to be more organic in nature. They need to adapt and evolve. Team members need to be utility players, whom are flexible in their approach and the role they play. Ideally they will help confirm the outcomes and then self-organise, self-manage, self-motivate and self-measure.

And finally, we get to the technology

First and foremost, we start with people oriented technology. The technology exists to help the business do what it needs to do. It must support the work – not with features and functions but with capability. This is not the time to go on a customisation and bespoke development blitz. We need a standardised, commoditised, rationalised environment that is adaptive. It needs to always flex at business speed. That means where possible using off the shelf or cloud SaaS. If that doesn’t seem possible, what can you change to make it possible? And having remodelled the business, now you can address automation. Automation is amazing, when you automate something effectively.

New ways of thinking can lead to new ways of working. New ways of working can deliver new forms of business that are sustainable. The world has changed and continues to change. Whether this is a threat or an opportunity depends on you.

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