This past year, business models have been reinvented. Supply chains have been restructured; promises of new scientific breakthroughs have been suddenly realized; and productivity has been proven to thrive virtually.
As the world recovers from a global pandemic, leaders face the challenge of identifying what works for a new and evolving today and what will be required to succeed tomorrow. Decisions made over the next 12 to 18 months could determine the difference between thriving and struggling over the next five years.
How do we capitalize on this momentum and seize the future? How do we accelerate the innovation we have tapped? How do we optimize for the new global reality? What you need is an emergent approach to digital transformation focused on the following three principles:
1. The Future of Business
Peter Drucker famously said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” There’s more to this quote than you might think at first glance.
In a world of constant change, we can’t draw on experience to plan developments no one has seen before. Even three-year plans get obsolete before they have time to gain traction. Yet the decisions we make today could have tremendous ramifications for decades.
So instead of focusing on the past for insights, start looking forward. In other words, to create the future, start from the future.
This “future-back strategy” will enable you to imagine new businesses and business models for the future that can be prototyped and tested today. Unlike conventional strategic planning, which extends the company’s current business into the future, the future-back process begins by defining the future state and then working backward to establish actionable milestones.
The only thing we know about our vision for the future, and the plans associated with it, is that it will be incomplete. There will be holes in our plans; it will be wrong in many ways because nobody has a crystal ball. So, it’s not about simply being future-oriented to predict the future better. Instead, it’s about laying out a hypothesis for a likely future that would be exciting, aspirational, and inspiring for you and your teams and then engaging in the process of iterative learning — defining hypotheses and testing them and adjusting them as you.
This strategy is about getting into the right mindset to envision your future, as this will lead to your teams developing the right skill sets and tool sets to give breakthrough innovation efforts a much higher probability of long-term success. As the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Future-back is a process aimed at overcoming this fundamental problem, and it’s been shown to work.
Learn more about this topic in Lital’s Keynote, “Future of Business: New World, New Rules”
2. Digital Leadership in a Hybrid World
Investment in employees goes beyond helping them to learn new skills. It also encompasses creating a working environment where employees feel appreciated and are encouraged to give critical feedback, be open, truthful, and, frankly, themselves. Employees are motivated to think creatively and innovate without dealing with bureaucratic underlying systems and processes that hinder their learning and experimentation.
Innovation and experimentation are the backbones of the future of any business. And despite the pandemic and the economic crisis, there is still so much hypocrisy in the workplace regarding fostering a culture of learning and innovation. We still witness work environments that set their employees up for failure by blocking them with bureaucracy. Bureaucracy kills creativity, breaks employee trust, and destroys any ounce of motivation.
As the behavioural economist Professor Dan Ariely states, investing in motivated employees makes companies more valuable and profitable. We now have concrete data showing a positive correlation between motivated employees and a company’s stock price.
Managers must be more intentional in establishing and developing relationships with their team members. That means knowing how to leverage digital tools in a hybrid world. If managers want their organization to digitally transform, they must also transform themselves too. They need to lead by digital example.
Learn more about this topic in Lital’s keynote: The Future of Work: DIGITAL Leadership in a Hybrid World.
3. Virtual Worlds
Innovative organizations are working on blending virtual and physical worlds, on building what is often referred to as the metaverse.
Businesses are racing toward a future that is very different from the one they were designed to operate in as technologies, such as extended reality, blockchain, digital twins, and edge computing, are converging to reshape human experiences.
The next generation of the internet, Web3, will drive a new wave of digital transformation far greater than what we’ve seen to date, transforming how we all live and work.
As the line between people’s physical and digital lives continues to blur, businesses have the opportunity and obligation to build a responsible metaverse — addressing issues such as trust, sustainability, personal safety, privacy, responsible access and use, diversity, and more. The actions and choices you’ll make today will set the stage for the future.
The future belongs to those who don’t wait to create it: those who don’t wonder and hope, but those who take action today.
Learn more about this topic in Lital’s keynote: Metaverse Who? The Dawn of a New Digital World.
Lital Marom is an in-demand thought leader on agile business processes, digital transformation, and the future of work. She helps organizations unlock the potential of their business by leveraging exponential thinking, emerging technologies, and new business models.
Contact us to learn more about Lital and our future of work experts.