Some holiday reading to get you ready for 2017

In my view, the buzzwords for 2017 will be Transformation, Data Analytics and Keeping hold of your talent.

You cannot transform without talented people. As McKinsey mentions in Transformation with a Capital T, the three components missing from companies that want to transform is that they rarely have the combination of skills, mind-sets, and ongoing commitment needed to pull it off.


Keeping hold of talent is the new black.

So before we get into transformation, lets look at talent. In all of my work for and alongside consulting companies I have asked management the same question. “What makes your company different from your competitors?” Their answers seem to always be the same same; “Our people”. This begs a follow up question. If your people makes the difference, then why do you compete on price?

Hiring the right people takes more than just saying you have them. The right people transform companies in ways that seem impossible. One company that is often quoted as getting this right is Netflix. In the Huffington Post, the reasons for Netflix’s success are highlighted in the title; They treat their employees like grown ups.

Netflix has taken this employee or talent discussion very seriously, right from the very start. Harvard Business Review (HBR) highlighted them in 2014, in an article called “How Netflix has reinvented HR“. Their slide presentation has been viewed more than five million times.

McKinsey mentions that mind-set is also a vital component required for transformation. Hiring the right talent means getting hold of people that understand transformation, because that means they don’t mind change. Doing the same things we did yesterday, is looking backwards. I believe the time has come for companies to lift their gaze more and more with each passing day, so that they can see what is coming on the horizon and get ready.

If you’re not looking at the horizon, how will you spot something that is just beyond? That something might just be heading in your direction

If you’re ready to tackle this employee talent question, then an article from McKinsey on “Rethinking work in the Digital Age might be a good start.

What about automation?

Sometimes, however, you might not have to find talented people, especially for jobs that can be automated. It does require an understanding about what has happened in the world of digital, before going out and looking for talented people, for jobs that don’t need to exist anymore.

Previous MGI research found that  45 percent of work activities could be automated using current technologies; some 80 percent of that is attributable to existing machine-learning capabilities.

Transformation is often connected to only digital transformation, but digital is only a small part of the transformation equation. It is an often misunderstood word. The same goes for the word, online.


Transformation with a Capital T

McKinsey’s article with the same name was a challenging read for a consultant such as myself. Working with global brands as I do, one can always see the need for change. A real need for transformation. The challenge always is finding the person willing to take the first step. No one likes to be first. That’s why it’s so important to be able to show the real reasons why they to transform alongside the consequences if they don’t.

GE. A company on the cutting edge of transformation.

One company I follow closely at the moment is General Electric (GE). In a recent video interview with IESE Insight, GE CEO Mark Hutchinson answered questions on how they were leading this new Industrial Revolution. Three things stood out for me in the interview.

  1. Firstly it was about how important it is to have direct contact with your customers. If you produce the product, then surely you now the most about the product, then surely you’d be the best at discussing this product with your customers?
  2. Secondly it was important to realize what it is that you actually do. According to Mark, GE is a software company. Yes they sell products, but at the core it was important for them to understand what it is they do.
  3. Thirdly I enjoyed his answer to the personal question as to why he took the journey he has with regards to his career? Working in 8 different countries and five different positions within GE. He doesn’t see a career path as a series of steps, but as a jigsaw puzzle. The more you challenge yourself, the more you learn. It goes back to the talent discussion earlier on. How many companies are interested in employing people that aren’t perfect but are willing to learn?


Data Analytics.

As part of the discussion on transformation, digital and online, companies are starting to become aware of the great quantity of data they produce, and finding a way to read into it.

“Leading companies are using their capabilities not only to improve their core operations but also to launch entirely new business models. The network effects of digital platforms are creating a winner-take-most situation in some markets. The leading firms have remarkably deep analytical talent taking on various problems—and they are actively looking for ways to enter other industries. These companies can take advantage of their scale and data insights to add new business lines, and those expansions are increasingly  blurring traditional sector boundaries .” – McKinsey

Does your data have purpose?

In Making Data Analytics work for you, instead of the other way around, McKinsey asks a very valid question, “Does your data have purpose?”. In the article they show how to understand the data, make sense of it, and use it. The sentiment is echoed by HBR, that most industries are nowhere close to realising the potential of analytics.

All of this is not new. McKinsey kicked the proverbial hornets nest in 2011 when they released a report on the transformational potential of big data. Back then they predicted that it will be the next frontier of innovation, competition and productivity. Yet so many industries still seem to lag behind.

If you do know how to use your data, then McKinsey asks “How will you compete in a data driven world?

This brings us back to the start. In order to transform, we need the correct skills, the correct mind-sets and the will, to pull it off. It’s not all easy sailing, it takes guts.


And finally

I want to end off with a book recommendation from Shane Snow, founder of Contently. His book Smartcuts is about the power of lateral thinking. It shows how geniuses and presidents strip meaningless choices from their day, so they can simplify their lives and think.

Cutting through the chaos, and noise is what we need to do in order to be able to see clearly what we need to do. This book is a great starting point, with endless examples of how Hackers, Innovators and Icons accelerated success.

In a world that has changed as much as it has in such a short time, it’s important to understand that we cannot do things the way as yesterday. If you include how fast technology changes, then you’ll realise how vital it is to keep up, or be left behind.

My Philosophy

The world has changed. Technology has changed. We’re living in a new normal.

I believe that if you want to succeed in this changed world, you need to take online seriously. To succeed online, you need to take your content seriously. I help businesses adapt their marketing and communications strategies to succeed in this new normal.