Digital transformations are in everybody's mind and talk - the topic of the decade, I would almost call it. And multiple studies are quoted that 70% of them have failed. Is it because we set the wrong targets? Do these initiatives fail because leaders are not committed? Can we achieve success while applying the same processes and methods of the past?
On my side, I like to think of transformations in a different way. Instead of leading people from a situation A to a situation B, I suggest to enable the teams to define and achieve their own change - perpetually as a continuous journey. The based principle in my experience to achieve sustainable and fast success for transformations is intrinsic motivation - with two core elements.
Frame - the first key element provides two things to the team members: a direction and boundaries. There are many names and input for this frame: vision, dream, values, strategy, beliefs... All of them are contributing to ensure that our people are putting their efforts on the right things, established in a collective and positive way.
Empowerment - the second key element allows the people to act fast within the defined frame. The main goal of empowerment is to remove barriers and facilitate speed in achieving the collective dream. This is achieved by providing our people with an autonomy of responsibility which means allowing people to experiment, fail and learn. As a result, we will strengthen creativity and agility - contributing value in a short period of time.
This frame and empowerment is a structure which is best achieved by starting with small steps. First, creating a safe environment to get used to this new way of operating. Team members and leaders alike need to experience the benefits, define how this works best for them and enjoy the journey. Then we can expand this new operating model to more, bigger and exciting challenges.
Where do you see success in digital transformation?
My fellow transformation practitioner, Kamales Lardi, published an article sharing her views on the challenges that occur when executing a digital transformation strategy - Digital Transformation: How to develop strategy under uncertainty. A great list for leaders to understand how we can contribute to successful initiatives. And it made me thought, can we even give it another spin, make leaders bolder?
#1 Create a Confident Leadership Team
#2 Thrive in Uncertainty
#3 Create a Frame for Fast Results
#4 Create a Human-centric Organisation
#5 Implement a Structure that Strengthens Creativity and Agility
Am I the bottleneck to our business success?
How do you translate your vision into action?
Do I appreciate the creativity and insights of all people in our organisation?
Beside reading a lot of Science-Fiction books (inspiration to think far far out of the box) and Wired UK (for the latest tech trends), I am also following McKinsey for their solid insights into the business world. And they have this series of Five-Fifty which are great in today's fast paced world; and this one is about change: Five Fifty: The changeable organization.
Yes, we need to change; and yes, we are afraid and resist change. Still I believe that in order to "manage" change, we need to enable our people and our organisation to define the change and then be excited about it. Here is what the research of McKinsey tells us about this.
How do you prepare for exciting digital transformations?
* Organizational health: A fast track to performance improvement
This week I coincidentally stumbled across this simple explanation of the foundation of agile. A reminder for myself - and for all of us - where does agile come from.
"A set of values and principles that guide the team’s decision making."
For example, the interaction with people is more important the processes and rules; or the collaboration with the customer is more valuable than the contract we negotiated. These will guide a team to make the right thing.
And as a leader? Give your teams a clear direction, remove barriers, motivate intrinsically, stay close with them and join the party as an equal.
What did I miss?
End of last year, we initiated a benchmark survey on how different companies experience their journey to accelerate innovation mindsets. How can we fully exploit our potential to deliver novel products, processes and experiences to our customers. We presented a number of activities and traits and asked two simple questions: are these important for innovation? and are they established in your organisation?
Here are the results of this APAC-focussed survey; they show clear indications on where to put energy and where to start:
Find here the complete survey results: The Current State of Innovation - Report.
Big Thank You to all that have participated in the survey!
The world is getting automated, more mundane processes are taken over by robots and all of us will be confronted to interact with smarter machines. This has an impact on the future-proof skills we require.
This McKinsey report highlights the key skills that we need to focus on for our employees:
Are you ready to solve problems with speed? Are you ready to pick-up the latest trends? How well are you collaborating beyond your silos? In my eyes, this underlies the need for new structures to create deeper understanding of the people we work with and to experiment and execute creative solutions.
Five Fifty - Soft Skills for a Hard World
In the recent months, I am very happy to support various teams in getting more agile. Last week, I had a call from one of the sites: "Tim, we have a huge problem! Some of our experiments have failed and some teams can't finish their projects" - "Hey, that's great! What we are focusing on is that we experiment and learn - getting faster along the way."
In a conversation earlier this week we reflected on this. Cultivating an agile mindset not only means applying the processes and methods for developing new solutions. In the example above, the teams struggle with significantly shorter project times and delivering experiments instead of fix deliverables - as usual, this is a journey.
Therefore, we need to experiment and use agility in applying the methods, concepts and processes of becoming agile. Experiment to experiment, be agile in becoming agile - if that makes any sense.
Implementing visionary solutions is like climbing a mountain. And so is to change a mindset of people. Why not using the same approach to take small steps to conquer the summit?
We at Hive17 Consulting are devoted to creating an environment for people to work with passion, engagement and fun via positive leadership and intrinsic motivation. We believe that it takes more than perfect processes, systems, organizational charts and value statements to make your company successful. Our people need to understand, shape and believe in the change journey. And for us, it is clear that this foundation will unleash people’s full potential.
Where is your heart: in Design Thinking? or in Agile? Both concepts are used a lot in the context of innovation and excellence. I heard a lot of arguments from both "camps" which is superior and that the one is a subset of the other - rich discussions.
What most can agree is that the underlying concepts are pretty similar - why not use both? In programs I have conducted - especially in order to become excellent - I have combined them to accelerate creativity and speed.
There is a huge overlap: both concepts are about empowerment, experimenting, minimal viable products, fundamental concepts of agility (arguably from Lean Manufacturing).
Where they distinguish are in two particular areas; and it is good to understand their strength apply where most valuable. Here is how I make the simple distinction.
> Create Ideas: human-centric Design Thinking helps to go deeper in your understanding of the customers and stakeholders.
> Execute Ideas: the strong focus on iterations in Agile, combined with the scientific approach of measuring assumptions are great to accelerate momentum when solutions are implemented.
How do you see the two concepts play with each other?
"The Value of Everything"
Everybody is talking about innovation and yes, it is a critical components for the sustainable success of companies - and entire societies.
This article (long read) shares the experience of successful innovation in a larger scale - how governments can push creativity and successful new solutions for cities, provinces, countries - large scale. And the result:
>> Innovation is driven by a mission <<
In detail this means:
* let's be bold and inspirational
* aim at high ambitions that are risky
* define clear timelines and results
* connect people across silos
* give research teams autonomy and allow them to experiment
How are you applying these points in your team / lab?
This economist has a plan to fix capitalism. It's time we all listened
Last week, the community of Design Thinking professionals met in Singapore. On Friday, we discussed how culture can be influenced and how Design Thinking might support transformation - very interesting question...
I have started to use Design Thinking in order to cultivate customer value focus, agility and cross-silo collaboration. With great success.
Another thought we developed is around intrinsic motivation. Design Thinking facilitates:
* a clear definition of challenges that supports purpose;
* autonomy due to the focus on empathy (button up thinking)
* the iterative prototyping allows mastery (getting closer and closer to the customer needs)
How do you see the connection between transformation and design thinking?
During the last two days, the regional Design Thinking community met in Singapore to exchange experiences, thoughts and questions. Here my key take-aways...
"Experience design is about *real people*, real life; let's focus on empathy and ethics."
"Idea creation is *messy and random*; don't kill it with KPIs."
"Use Design Thinking as a *pull* to a new way of working."
"Continuous improvement brings detractors to passives; experience design brings passives to promoters."
"Good design is about an integrated view of the entire business and brings alignment across all stakeholders; that is where the value comes from."
"Design thinking transforms to drive value creation, better collaboration, a culture of experimentation and a common purpose."
A big thanks to the organisers, speakers and participants! I enjoyed the event a lot.
This is where diversity meets innovation. Do you want to through the ball very far? Then you will get more crazy ideas when you connect with people that are different from you: different departments, different regions, and why not with your customers and suppliers?
Diversity for me means to absorb insights and opinions from any person you interact with; irrespective from their gender, race, education, hair colour, social status, etc. This is the start of deep learning.
Today, in our production facilities in Thailand we started to discuss how we can execute ideas to improve productivity in a different way: achieve results in a faster way while keeping the big picture in mind.
The excellent outcome of today's workshop was the definition of Focus Topics. We took the solution ideas we created during a Design Thinking workshop in August and modularised them into smaller chunks that can be implemented as minimal viable products. The teams have now selected the first Focus Topic which will be implemented in the next three months. The graphic below vitally supported the understanding of this concept - visualisation is such an important aspect in discovery.
The objective of this approach is not only to create tangible results fast; we also aiming to cultivate agility and a new mindset. Looking forward to see the results soon.
While supporting large corporate organisation, I often hear that we need more entrepreneurship. What makes entrepreneurs so special and different?
as start-up there is no other way than to deep-dive into the needs and insights from your customers; in the corporate world, there is a huge lack of this mindset; and it starts with identifying, who is my customer
2) taking risks
no risk, no reward; following the beaten path, the safe path is the quickest way to failure as an entrepreneur; most larger organisations stop to experiment and create a culture that builds on fail-safe results
people start their own, successful business based on a strong belief, a product or solution they are passionate about; corporate leaders often fail to create a purpose the people in the organisation care about
how will you cultivate entrepreneurship in your organisation?
When looking at the key drivers for innovation in general, we identified three main elements to focus on:
* Value creation: create a good understanding of the needs and insights of our customers and then focus on delivering value to the customers
* Taking risk: create an environment where people are encouraged to experiment and instil entrepreneurship
* Leadership: guide people with purpose and be mindful to be a role model in the journey to create an innovation culture
Other elements that have highly scored as well are setting the right targets, focus on speed, learn from diversity and facilitate collaboration across silos.
Where do you see the key drivers for innovation?
First we created a good understanding of the needs and insights, which helped to explore a wide range of ideas. Then the teams crafted prototypes and presented their pitches.
All these activities will greatly impact manufacturing excellence; and we can already see the positive impact we made on the people; triggering mindset shifts and better work relationships:
"We were able to bring issues on the table with a smile and positive energy; this was never possible before."
"Imagine your phone is in your ear. And you can make the screen fold open in front of your eyes and then we call each other, see each other. And I can share photos with you as well..."
What a brilliant idea! Who's intelligent mind is behind that? My six-and-a-half year old daughter.
This is a great reminder that creativity is where we don't expect it and hidden in all of us. We need to focus on letting it come out.
That's the mindset we will need for the upcoming Innovation Hack Days in Bangkok this week.
IMD Alumni invited us to a speech by Diana Wu David sharing her experiences and thoughts about how we can make ourselves Future Proof! Globalisation, Automation, Longevity all creating the need to look differently at the 'world of work'.
The future will bring lifelong learning, demands flexibility and soft skills, and requires us to be enabled by technology.
How can we get there? And her thoughts really resonate with my experiences and believes:
These behaviours and routines will lead to creating a more satisfying life for us as leaders and family members.
The still open question is: how do we convert our top leaders to stop looking at the past (lagging indicators) and start embracing the future. Any thoughts from your side?
Quick share on communication... who are the key messengers to get the purpose and mission across?
A) the CxO level to create excitement for the strategic messages
B) the direct supervisor to build deeper understanding what the strategy means for our daily operations
Let's focus on these two messengers and it is a great start to get closer to our employees.
Day 1 - Great networking and discussions today with peers in operational excellence. My first impressions:
- Focus automation on areas with minimal viable products; and don't forget to clean-up your waste first
- Operational excellence is bottom-up and top-down at the same time
- Start your transformation journey with the 'why'; and then experiment in high speed to create tangible results
- Yes, you can have a global IT organisation with only three hierarchical levels - implementing self-organising teams
- Who owns the customer journey in the company? Ideally the Operational Excellence unit; it is a cross-functional topic
Day 2 - Excited about the feedback I have received for my presentation about People Excellence; people are not machines and we thrive with freedom and passion.
Though the day continued to be exciting with many insights; here is what I got out of it:
- Operational Excellence is not a nice to have - it is about surviving in the market
- Rule-based activities can be automated with a bot; a great opportunity to up-skill people and engage them in more meaningful activities
- Employee Experience is a broad journey with social, physical and technical aspects; and requires a wide set of methods
- Drive agility by moving the focus (30%) from big ticket improvements to small Kaisen improvements
- Create an environment that allows and pushes experimentation; this is one of the foundation for transformation initiatives
- Ownership and curiosity easily compensates for the lack of expertise
Here are a few pointers, I see as important to make change journeys successful:
1. Visionary - we create purpose and meaning to strive for the best
2. Connected - we have our feet on the ground within our organisation and in the extended market place; and beyond
3. Delegate autonomy - we enable or teams to act autonomously and move ahead nimble and insightful
4. Fast + accurate decision-making - we create an environment in which we reduce bias and hurdles in making decisions
5. Coaching / mentoring - we develop our teams by giving them guidance and encouragement, instead of telling them what to do
6. Result driven - let's visualize performance data to understand where we are and where we are heading to; with a focus on qualitative information
Which qualities do you think are essential for leaders in today's world?
Passion & Purpose
A new 'thing' is heading towards us and our managers explain the journey with financials of the past and lofty EBITA contributions. Is this exciting? Is this relevant?
When we lead people through change, let's do this with passion. We can tap into our values and create a purpose with meaning; an exciting ambition that goes way beyond our normal achievements. This is what drives people! And, instead of numbers, let's get these stories out - make that north star tangible, stretched and real.
Each Business Plan is a Change Plan
And while we are talking about a meaningful purpose, we will also ensure that people are heading down the same path, with the same story and the same goal in mind. This alignment is important to utilise resources efficiently and to reach our ambitions together.
"These are the new processes and here is how we are going to ensure that you are following them!" Command and control as a leadership style is usually not ideal to create commitment and engagement.
We want speed, flexibility and innovation. This means we need to delegate decision making to where things are happening. Autonomy is also supported by creating communities, allowing peers to connect directly in their own language.
Let's get out of the parenting mode
By the way, purpose and autonomy are two of the three key ingredients for intrinsic motivation; in my eyes, a vital platform to drive people forward through the changes within and outside of organisations.
One Tribe at a Time
Typical change intervention target a large audience with classic communication and training activities; even change agents and KPIs are held on a broad level. These generic themes are simply not touching people's heart and don't highlight the relevance to each individual.
Experiences of military activities in the Middle East have shown that we can achieve a lot more with up-close, personal interventions. Take one group and engage them, guide them to the new place, listen to their situation, etc with deep connection. And, make the change real and exciting for them. Then move to the next group; step-by-step conquer the entire organisation.
Continuous Innovation & Improvement
Classic change approaches assume one change intervention at a time, followed by a stabilising phase. Reality today is that we are exposed to multiple interference and never have the luxury to breathe after a change project. Change is the new norm.
This is because the markets and environments in which organisations are embedded are evolving with a faster pace. We need to be ahead of the curve - all the time. So, instead of guiding people through one change project, we need to provide them with structures, capabilities and mindsets that provoke and strengthen continuous innovation and continuous improvements - for themselves and within their teams.
What trends do you see? How can we apply these trends and drive excellence in our organisations? Share your thoughts and experiences!
Tim is a change practitioner in the area of innovation and excellence. He is working with teams to accelerate innovation, collaboration and agility.