Four years later – still the very same (digital) challenges

Yes, I am resuming my blogging activities now. And yes, I am having a lot of conversations with lots of different people due to my new situation.

But what strikes me most: Immersing myself in my own thinking and perception of a couple of years ago, I am realizing that there hasn’t been so much progress since 2013/2014.

Back then, it was difficult to find top-level executives who would feel the urgency to create more value more systematically for their customers. Also, it would be hard to find product development organizations who have understood how agile, product discoveries etc. etc. work.

And today? Still not that different. Where are the disruptors who are winning market share because they have built superior ways of working based on an employee empowerment, trust & appreciation culture? How can it be that there aren’t more north stars showing us the way?

And don’t get me wrong: To me, this is just a question about when and not about if it will happen. IMHO I think there are four reasons for this:

  1. Lack of sense of urgency. Especially in industries where there is still no competitor up for it, there is no need for change. Only the opportunity is a missed one. As an example, I am thinking of XING & LinkedIn in the social networking space.
  2. Lip service. Many companies pretend they are all about customer value. But they have not yet understood how radical they will really need to change in order to really build customer value. There are many examples out there.
  3. Functional silos. It is still about Marketing vs. Product vs. Commercial etc. etc.
  4. Command and control ways of working. Many companies are still stuck in the early industrial age. Here it matters to control and the employees are more or less seen as “machines”. The reflex of the CEO in times of uncertainty is to exercise even more control over his/her company.

To understand the impact of what is coming up you simply need to listen to the more savvy employees. They are less and less willing to accept a tayloristic worldview. This manifests in increasing employee turnover. And this creates a sense of urgency.

But organizations behave like organisms under a virus attack. They defend the system and make sure the virus is eliminated before it can do too much harm. I have seen a couple of talented individuals being “spat out” like that without having had any major impact on their organizations.

What if the attack were a friendly one? If it were the opportunity to build a competitive advantage over those who have defended the attack? Think about it!