Our approach: Future-driven leadership & technology

Most organizations experience the environment as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. They see radical changes, but changes are only radical if you start too late.

You’ve probably heard of ChatGPT by now. Maybe you’re already using it. According to an article in the New York Times, the arrival of this AI application hit Google like a bombshell. But how far does your understanding and experience in the field of AI extend? Artificial intelligence, the internet of things, blockchain, and smart contracts will probably also change your world considerably. You better be prepared for that. We know everything about the production and consumption of cars, food, services, and money. But what about the production and consumption of data? Is this question too abstract, or do you really want to become data savvy? Don’t be surprised like Google and attend our free webinar Data Wisdom or visit our experience lab so that you are ready for a future that will be durable, data-driven, and decentralized.

We produce at least 15MB of data per person per minute worldwide. Only 5-10% is structured and trusted. But what if we could trust the data we rely on? What if ChatGPT uses rich data? What if a digital assembly line in offices has the same consequences as a physical assembly line in factories?

With digital transformation strategies, many organizations wonder how to apply the latest technology within an existing operating model or use big data or artificial intelligence to develop new business models. That is a transformation in a narrow sense. In those cases: ‘business optimization’ would be a better word. Some organizations wonder how they can sell more with big data or how they can monetize available data. The more data you have, the more you can achieve with digital transformation, which is still the dominant idea in many organizations. They are unable to deviate from their linear thinking. They think the future is an extrapolation of the past. The strategic compass is wrong, and the chosen path is a dead end. Most of the data that organizations think they own is not theirs. A new era with new societal challenges needs a new strategy and operating model for data-driven organizing. We will help you with that.

Real transformation in our vision is a transition into a durable, data-driven and decentral future. That is a future without redundant work, digital waste, siloed IT systems, and central governance. The future of work means less work. An effective strategy is to build new organizations on the edge and make existing ‘old school’ organizations obsolete. That is okay because, during your transformation, you discover new values and business models. As a caterpillar, you can eat a lot. As a butterfly, you value the ability to fly and reproduce yourself. To become a butterfly, the caterpillar has to ‘choose’ for a transformation and let go of the old. Fundamental transformation is not only a different technology but, above all, new DNA and a different way of thinking in which you give up some autonomy, let go of your organization as the center of doing business and work smartly together in ecosystems.

Our experience is that many organizations wonder how, with a tight talent market, increasing regulations, and customer demands, for example, they can free up the time to be fundamentally and consistently engaged in a transformation program. How paradoxical it may be, transformation is more about a gradual process than a quantum leap. The quantum leap is the result. The transition and many small steps (in the right direction) is the process. Transformation is not about turning your entire organization upside down. It is about design, discontinuity, re-engineering, starting over again, building a new organization on the edge, and transferring existing effective tasks and processes into a ‘new building.’ Transition is the road to transformation.

To understand the difference between transition and transformation, you need to see the difference between improve, change and renew. In short: Improve is to maintain, change is to widen, and renew is to construct a road:

  • Improving is optimizing the current situation, for example, digitization, but still using the existing business- and operating model.
  • Change is the adaptation of new processes and customer relationships (digitalization = digitization + new business model).
  • Renew is to break down and start over (re-engineering, reducing digital waste, erasing redundant work, etc.)

The future will be durable, data-driven, and decentral. That is a big vision. But The biggest problem with having a big vision is that getting excited about the trivial, small stuff that needs to happen on the way there is tough. However, execute those little steps well, and you’ll go places well beyond what you envisioned.

To understand the way we look at transformation, I usually recommend the metaphor of the pioneer traveling: leave your safe haven behind, use your telescope and compass, choose a path, and bring a backpack:

  1. Safe haven (here and now): spend enough time and attention to let go of routines (dominant logic, dogmas, paradigms, and pillars of the old system). You need a Copernican revolution. Christoffel Columbus on this: “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
  2. Telescope (there and later): be aware of the context you are in (soon). Look with different perspectives and find out what you believe, what the patterns are, and which organizational principles there are
  3. The compass (destination, ideal situation for men & society, long term, 5-10 years): devote sufficient time and attention to awareness. Above all, think about the direction and let yourself guide by principles, patterns, different perspectives, and a moral and common sense “compass.” You should not lose this compass on the way or put it in your backpack. The direction must always remain visible to organization stakeholders in terms of purpose, vision, mission, and ambition. You may not subordinate the compass to the road (medium long) and backpack (short term). A compass is not a route planner. A compass has to do with compassion: tell your story and what you belief with a passion to others, and they will follow (eventually). Albert Einstein on this: “You can’t use an old map to explore a new world.’”The road (budgets, capabilities, medium-long term, 1-5 years): choose a strategy; choose a road along which you want to realize your ambition based on your compass. Make sure there is sufficient support from your stakeholders. And the content of your backpack should be based and prioritized on the route you choose.
  4. The backpack (short term, next year): choose your instruments for structure, culture change, governance, economics, and development. Start with small manageable projects, with one or a few smaller projects contributing to the new vision and ambition. Provide new skills if necessary. During the projects, you take stakeholders along in the new thinking and doing. But remember: everything you choose and do is in the right direction!

You see this metaphor in some of our important methods: The Community Model Canvas, backcasting, solution development journey, and double-track development.

Community Model Canvas
The Community Model Canvas helps to develop connections for data-driven ecosystems:

Idealize design & backcasting
Start with an Idealized Design, with the end insight, go back to today and develop step by step in the right direction:

Solution development journey
Furthermore, we never start with a business case but with a learning-working case. We follow the next steps by using (data)technology to solve social problems and offer benefits for (office) organizations:

Double-track concpet
It is impossible to transform from the existing situation into a decentralized autonomous organization in one go. The solution for this is a double-track: on the one hand, you choose to upgrade, maintain and phase out legacy systems in the short term and make processes suitable for transitioning to a new operating model, ecosystem, and the digital assembly line. On the other hand, you are already starting to innovate greenfield for the long term. It is essential that you consciously phase out existing systems.

tags: approach