Being unreasonable


If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.
~ Peter Drucker

David Edelman suggests being unreasonable - not traditionally taken as a compliment - is critical for successful digital transformation.

It's part of how to transform your enterprise to become authentically digital.

An unreasonable aspiration is like a key that unlocks new ways of thinking about things. It jumpstarts new conversations, often between people who haven’t spoken before. When nurtured and supported by active leadership, it catalyzes action. And before long, aspirations that at first seemed unreasonable are actually quite doable.

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper described humans as "allergic to change" - naturally neophobic

The most dangerous phrase is "we've always done it this way".

Innovations often fail to find a welcome home in large organisations because the existing management cadre either don't recognise the inherent potential value or can't face changing to embrace it.

Complacency is always a great threat, but in apparently successful incumbents the peril is often not immediately obvious to the decision makers. ("The chasm of doom" as I describe it.)

When faced with a new idea to successfully evolve their existing business, executives can too easily dismiss it with a shrug of their shoulders and return to the relative safety of what they've always done.

If tolerance for this type of complacency comes from board level, it defines the enterprise mindset.

Your board works 240-300 days/year. How many of those do they spend with customers. How many do they spend on digital?

— Conor M Ogle (@cmogle) July 29, 2014

Even in those organisations that genuinely want to adapt, is there sufficient confidence in their existing teams to deliver such transformation?

Many incumbents believe they already operate at full capacity with their existing remediation and transformation programmes. They have found the relentless waves of regulatory compliance exhausting and have lost many of their most effective change agents.

The very people needed to design and execute successful digital change have quit the bank for organisations with entirely different cultures, or have set up on their own. Tired of the apparent refusal of 'Management' to move meaningfully forward with 'Digital', they are attracted by more fertile and less fettered pastures.

To effect real digital transformation, companies should quickly move far beyond experimentation. The digital mindset and capabilities must be hard-wired into the entire business. New skills must be acquired, new partnerships forged. Courage must be found to make the tough, painful decisions today.

As long as the CEO considers 'Digital' an experiment - a mere bolt-on to the existing business - the digital transformation will fail.

When the enterprise embraces the digital agenda as a core way of doing business, the transformation can succeed.

Unlock value by becoming authentically digital - enabling client outcomes to form sustainable partnerships.

That's far from unreasonable.