Is Your Organization Prepared For a Digital Future?

[Posted on Behalf of Subbu Iyer, Founder and chief Designer Hreemm]

In 2015 and 2017, PETER WEILL AND STEPHANIE L. WOERNER surveyed several hundred enterprises, examining both the capabilities needed for transformation and the impacts on performance. Based on our analysis, companies in the future-ready quadrant performed much better than their industry peers. According to the authors whose article is published in the 2018 Winter Edition of the MIT Sloan Management Review, becoming future-ready requires changing the enterprise on two dimensions — customer experience and operational efficiency. They found that enterprises can take one of four different paths to go from the lower-left quadrant (Silos and Complexity) to the upper-right (Future-ready).

From the above illustration it is very clear that Future Readiness is based on the unstated requirements of Customers where Transformation will be needed not only within the enterprise but also on the Customers themselves. Because their responsiveness is critical for the success of innovation.
The digital future is a very abstract journey with a destination named "Excellence". Simply because Digital Technology is revolutionizing life itself much more rapidly than any of the previous three industrial revolutions. Therefore it is important to handle the term Excellence with care more than ever, as digital technology is still evolving and the best way to master it is "Learning in Action".

Excellence is a very precise 'State of Maturity' that can be scaled from 0 -5; ranging as Innocence (0), Awareness (1), Understanding (2), Definition (3), Competence (4) and Excellence (5)
The journey from Innocence to Excellence in Continuum is Innovation. When new Technology is discovered, it needs to find a realm in applications that has a limited shelf life. This is where Design comes in to play. Design Thinking is the art that relates to the Cycle of Invention to Innovation while Design is the science that relates to the cycle of Innovation to Improvisation. And clearly Thinking needs to precede action. And as the following illustration will demonstrate the organizational maturity in its journey of excellence is clearly linked to the process of innovation that is mutually inclusive of both Mind 2 Market and Time 2 Market.

There cannot be a disagreement that at the heart of any innovation is the Customer. And as it happens the Innovation in an enterprise has two phases to it. What divides them is the context or relevance. From a Design Thinking perspective the context is Life as depicted in the following illustration.

Connecting the dots between these network points of life is the essence of design thinking. The Point of Arrival (POA) therefore is a departure from the Present into the Future. It is important to understand the following definition not from a semantic perspective but rather from a design orientation if one prefers to see it as a precise science rather than a gooey abstract:

Need = Stated Requirements of a Customer that are highly desired as necessary.
Wants = Needs that have not been fulfilled over a period of time and have therefore become more urgent.
Expectations = Needs and Wants that have been fulfilled as stated or required by the Customer.
Aspirations = Unstated / Unexpressed Customer Requirements.
PS: Aspirations are not unstated needs. If the Customer knew about them, they would demand or state.

As the above illustration demonstrates, Aspirations need to be surface and their potential and possibilities explored. This is the essential art of Design Thinking; to Inquire, Explore and Discover the Potential and Possibilities of a Solution that could make the Quality of Life better for a Customer. Such Potential and Possibility may have multiple networks across life stations and those dots need to be connected to optimize a solution. The outcomes of Design Thinking are Models, Engines, Components and Connectors. These are unconstrained and adaptable to an Industrial Application.These then become the inputs for Design.

PS: There is a world of difference between a Solution and a Product. But unfortunately, in a linear thinking environment, often the multiplicity of a solution is lost on organizations due to a lack of disciplined maturity to Innovation.

At the heart of Design is a Product that has been Innovated upon which needs to find applicability and adaptability to a Customer with the right engagement and experience. Thus the ecosystem comes into play along with the granularity of a transaction. Thus we Design what works. In a global world this is dictated by multiple Versions and Releases to the market depending upon the Demographic, Psychography and Biography of a Customer (Experience) at the rate of use / on-demand that is Devise, Channel and Medium independent (Engagement / Operations).

As the above illustration demonstrates, design either meets and / or manages the expectations of the customer. In the process, a clear distinction is established between a Solution and a Product. In the modern context, the Customer would have the freedom to choose an enterprise's offering as a Platform, Product, Process and / or Project (Service). and therefore the ecosystem is very important in configuring the Logistics and Distribution as the operations spreads well beyond the conventional boundaries of an enterprise.

It cannot be stressed enough that the transformation of organizations is dictated by a Context (Relevance) and this has to be looked at from a macro and micro lens. The macro looks at the Potential and the micro draws a bridge from the Status Quo to the desired state that the Potential represents.

Mutual Inclusivity is the hallmark of a Journey in Excellence
As humanity, making tradeoffs and doing the expedient has been the tradition. This is what needs to be transformed. Everyone needs to understand the distinction between the past and the future. This is the moment to design think the future and design a pathway that departs from the present into the future. There are no Subject Matter Experts (SME) but only Learners in Action (LIA) who will be able to create a future for ourselves and for the generations to come.

Yes, we have to Create a Future because the present is getting to be redundant at a hectic rate. Never underestimate the value of preparing for a journey that looks arduous and ambitious at the same time. That process of preparation is in fact Transformation; the journey is one long quest for excellence.

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