Interdependency and Change

By guest writer Barry Kermisch.

Some say we are experiencing the fourth industrial revolution, but have barely touched the tip of the iceberg. Others predict that by 2025, machine learning will surpass the human mind. It’s often hard to think about change in terms other than technology.

Like all things, technology and culture are interdependent. How will ethics and the law be effected as a result of artificial intelligence, data privacy, biomedicine or space travel? How do we protect future jobs or even human existence? Social media is influencing how we choose our partner and friends? Algorithms effect elections and the people who govern our lives? Blockchain technologies will change how you bank, buy your next house and manage your investments? The internet of things will change the quality of living in cities?

Businesses are struggling with adapting to the digital world. Not to just new technology, but to changing culture.

Customer expectations and behaviours are changing. Businesses can no longer compete just on price. Customers are better informed and have more choice and control. As a result, the quality of the customer experience across a variety of new devices and channels is increasingly important, leading to more design thinking and user-centred-design solutions.

Customer engagement tactics are also changing. Mass market advertising and broadcasting are no longer as effective. Personalised offers, viral content and peer-to-peer recommendations are often more impactful. People want real value in exchange for their attention, not just slogans and taglines. In today’s world, brand value as well as employee engagement can be more reliant on an organisation’s purpose, culture, sustainability and ethical values.

About ten years ago we saw a business shift to new agile project management methodologies which engage, empower and activate a more diverse group of people from across the organisation. With improved communications, collaboration and planning, businesses are now able to quickly deliver smarter, flexible and better tested solutions. Its proven success has quickly progressed to agile product design and development, then to agile business models and most recently, to agile business operations and service design.

Sustainable business change requires new thinking, new ways of doing things, new skills and capabilities and new ways to govern. Replacing the old top-down command and control styles of management with improved collaboration and innovation and a focus on delivering the company purpose; not just profits at any cost. Employees will share an agreed vision, have more flexible roles, have an equal voice and be more fully engaged and empowered.

We’re starting to see business leaders promise some of these ideas, mostly as talking points for the benefit of the board, general public or investors. Phrases like customer-focused, digital first, sustainability, innovation and agility have become the new slogans and taglines.

Not quite a reality, leaders are able to satisfy stakeholders by hiring a new Head of Digital, implementing a new email or CRM platform or redesigning a website as proof of progress and change.

Business culture change is lagging technologic change and still mostly top-down driven by those in power trying to stay in power; ticking boxes instead of delivering measurable value.

Interestingly, there seems to be a correlation in government. Leaders are more concerned with winning elections by managing public perception with soundbites, fake news and post truth than delivering real change. Using new technologies like big data, AI and social media, they target select audiences with personalised messages, delivering surprising outcomes.

When culture catches up with technology and like the recent progression in agile project management, we will start to see new ways of government and new kinds of leaders with innovative agendas and new solutions. Concurrently with the new technology, we will live in an open, inclusive, transparent, dynamic and collaborative society driven by a shared vision and a relevant purpose; moving away from today’s closed inflexible systems serving only the few.

About the author

Barry Kermisch is a digital strategist — helping organisations of all sizes and industries adopt new digital strategies, expand capabilities whilst ensuring this digital transformation occurs in a sustainable way. Connect with him at kermischb[at]protonmail.com and LinkedIn.

(Source: article reposted from www.barrykermisch.com with permissions)