The fallacy of (digital) Transformation

As Carrie Bradshaw says
“the more words we invent, the harder it becomes to define things”.
She talked about relationships, I’m talking about strategy.

In this short post ( I needed to get it out of my system), I’d like to point you to 4 common mistakes and misconception that lead to poor thinking in organisations.

1. DIGITAL DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING

Digital doesn’t mean anything, because it means too many things to too many people. Latest executive research performed by INSEAD & this fluid world provides valuable insights.

“Digital” does not have a universal meaning: the research identifies 20 key categories of engagement in digital with multiple subcategories of varied levels of complexity”

I invite you to read the research here.

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2. DIGITAL IS CONFUSED WITH TECHNOLOGY OR DEVICES

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Common mistake being made between the artefact and the underlying process.

The term “digital transformation” is essentially preempted by IT firms in order
to sell their services (check for yourselves). Again, see recent INSEAD & this fluid world research or insights from 2014 Altimeter research (mentioned here)

Success is perceived as being rooted in leadership and management, yet a significant proportion of respondents feel this gets insufficient attention

 

3. DIGITAL IS CONFUSED WITH INNOVATION

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Digital is not just another app, or a connected device…
Just like electricity is not just a fridge or a TV set…

Although digital enables some components of innovation
(see 10 types of Innovation graphic below) – it must not be confused with innovation – innovation being “the creation of a new, viable business offering.”

The most important word in that phrase is viable: innovation must result in the creation of new economic value – for customers but also for companies.

10-types-of-innovation

 

4. INNOVATION IS CONFUSED WITH STRATEGY

Strategy is getting the job done –  that means winning competitively in a given situation.

There can’t be one strategy, but there needs to be a portfolio of strategies depending on:

  • the breadth and depth of a companies products and services and markets served
  • the predictability of the business environment
  • the shape-ability of the business environment
  • the favorability or unfavorability of conditions

 Innovation is the component of your strategy that allows a company to adapt
its capabilities, assets and processes to continue to create value for its customer.

Because strategy is about making choices, innovation is also about making choices.

Evidence-based research led by Larry Keeley for his book demonstrates the superiority of
strategy combining multiple innovation tactics across more business components than product performance alone.

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Finally, this means Strategy guarantees survival – and poor choices lead to death.

As Martin Reeves explains in his TEDTalk : “transformation is about survival”.
Not competitive advantage …but survival. If you need to transform… you probably made some poor choices, and you’re paying the price.

In a world that is more complex, strategy has changed and how you think about strategy
needs to change. strategy is not a luxury: it’s a requirement.
As french poet Nicolas Boileau explains:

Whatever we well understand we express clearly, and words flow with ease.
(Ce qui se conçoit bien s’énonce clairement – Et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisémement.)

I thought it was worth a post. So next time we talk about digital or transformation, let’s be specific.

sources & links:

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