The digital age has brought about an accelerated pace of change, and it’s no secret many organisations are struggling to keep up. Technology is changing fast, market turbulence is the norm, and customer’s expectations are continuously rising.  The traditional concept of customer loyalty has shifted, with the onus on the company to constantly adapt and to cater their products, services and experiences to the customer.

So how do you achieve growth at a time of unprecedented disruption? By becoming a Living Business—one that continuously adapts to changing customer preferences and market conditions with speed and scale.
 

Creating a living business

 

Living Businesses are companies that show signs of vitality, that operate like digital natives, that innovate responsively, and that design with customers in mind. Most importantly, they recognise that to transform their business they must transform the people they lead.

To identify a clear path forward for today’s large organisations, Accenture undertook a major research initiative in 2018 to determine how leaders in sustainable growth are different than their peers. We found that these companies:

• Understand the changing digital needs of customers;
• Pivot growth strategies to profitable areas beyond the core;
• Fund new growth by optimising costs elsewhere.

Small digital pure-play organisations are hardwired to thrive in this environment. So, too, are giant digital natives such as Google, Amazon or indeed Salesforce. These organisations are constantly offering customers a more personalised and relevant customer experience. They’re also seamlessly moving from one growth opportunity to the next, even across industry boundaries. In fact, 78 percent of consumers surveyed would be willing to engage with digital natives for their banking and financial service needs.

But most large companies and industry mainstays face a tougher road. Asset-heavy infrastructures are limiting the ways in which they can serve existing customers and attract new ones. Outdated marketing, promotion and channel strategies, developed to exploit the ability to deliver volume at scale, are now barriers to overcome.

So, how can established organisations like these unlock growth with relevance?
 

 

Driving change through design

 

In Australia, organisations are aiming to turn their fortunes around with digital transformation. There’s no silver bullet when it comes to a successful digital transformation, but at Fjord we have recorded clear patterns of behaviour from large, global organisations that drive success. These patterns of behaviour have been categorised into ‘8 doors of transformation’. Each of the 8 doors leads to a proven idea that helps organisations, who are on the path to a customer-centric transformation, learn from those who didn’t only survive the process, but emerged from the process as a better, faster and more agile company.

It’s important to note that none of the doors depends solely on technology. The key lies in culture. Businesses that keep their people at the core and engage through a culture that thrives on change will have the agility to keep ahead. After all, change is constant and for most companies, it’s the most constant challenge in the business.

Here are 8 doors you can open to put the right people, in the right place, doing the right thing as you rewire your organisation:

1. Spark the Change – Businesses need to create an intervention that will ignite a mix of excitement and fear that can propel cross-business commitment to change. To get people to want to change, an intervention can mobilise disparate parts of your business around a single focus. In some cases, this can involve becoming obsessed with a really simple and specific metric such Net Promoter Score improvement or conversion increases. Other times it’s picking a challenging deadline or a key intervention to fuel change. Regardless of the catalyst, businesses need a real and tangible focus to activate change.

2. Split the Transformation – Digital change can be divided into two camps that sit along cultural lines. Businesses need to be aware of the two separate, distinct tracks of work required to transform their organisation:

Hygiene – This relates to the mandatory and predictable stuff all businesses need to do to stay competitive. It's likely not going to disrupt or differentiate a business in the market, but it is going to provide a fundamental foundation for the future.

Flair – This is where organisations take a portfolio approach to exploratory innovations that are riskier, but have the potential to allow businesses to make a step change in impact or invent entirely new experiences altogether. This is where businesses pivot growth strategies to new sources of revenue beyond the core.

The mindsets, ways of working, and KPIs of the two tracks are usually quite distinct.

3. Reflect from a People Perspective – People need to be placed at the heart of the organisation. Businesses need to ask: How do your customers, colleagues or partners experience your business? Are you really solving their problems? Examining the customer journey can provide answers. Where are there pain points? What are the metrics telling you? Businesses may find the results are not always pretty. No company wants to hear that customers aren’t getting past the first page of a new platform where millions of dollars were invested. But it is precisely this humility in understanding transformation from a people perspective that sets leaders apart.

4. Illustrate the Vision – The vision of transformation needs to be communicated with the wider business. Businesses need to make sure they’ve articulated the ‘why’ in a visual, memorable, repeatable form. A 250-page business case may be great, but it’s not inspirational for the people of the business. Try to limit the vision in a format that’s easy to digest and works at both the emotional and rational levels.

5. Sprint at a Digital Pace –  Organisations should create a space that operates with new ways of working, to deliver on the transformation vision at pace. Transformation requires businesses to respond to ideas or changing conditions at speed. A space is needed and can be anything from full-blown incubator to a small, 100-day project team, where a blend of internal and external talent can rapidly rethink the way an organisation can work. In this space, the task is to quickly prove or disprove new ideas and, more importantly, communicate to the rest of the business that the new ideas can actually be achieved!

6. Partner with Open Arms – Depending on the type of digital transformation, extra support can be instrumental to achieving success. Many transformation projects use a variety of supporting partners who can bring in new technologies and capabilities to accelerate change. Businesses may need a dedicated team to scout out potential partners, have exploratory conversations and score them against some pre-agreed criteria.

7. Nurture an Engaged Culture – Design thinking and design doing is not enough, culture is a critical element of design that is native to innovation. The quality of the culture that surrounds a business transformation program is one of the largest signals of success. Cultivating a new and effective culture requires leadership to give permission for and encourage the breaking of organisational norms and dogmas.

8. Infect the Organisation – It’s the responsibility of any transformation initiative to instil its values and methods into surrounding areas of the business. Businesses won’t successfully transform on the outside unless they are transformed on the inside. Businesses can use incubator space to train and educate other parts of the business in the new ways of thinking and working. This ‘rewiring’ is essential to becoming a Living Business.

 

Which door does your business need to open?

 

Businesses cannot afford to stand still. The latest State of Connected report found more than half (56 percent) of customers – including 66 percent of business buyers – actively seek to buy from the most innovative companies. Transformation is therefore a key component to ensure success of an organisation from both a business and customer perspective.

The journey to transformation is rarely linear. Rather than a fixed, step-by-step process, we see these ‘doors’ that can be tried in any order and even combined to achieve success. Ultimately, if businesses put its people at the centre of their thinking, the result is a business where change is rewarding for everyone.