Stumbling from the industrial era into the digital age

Stumbling from the industrial era into the digital age

A story of complacency, procrastination, extinction plus a few bright stars accelerating hard into the future.

Here’s the thing. I’m angry today. Angry at the sudden realization that it’s not businesses and old timers hanging onto power that’s holding back the digital revolution. It’s us, Homo Sapiens, and our failure to take ownership. Any of you familiar with Robert M. Pirsig’s epic will draw parallels to what I believe is the root cause of our stumbling world economy.

I call this a small matter of rapid transformation in the context of evolution. We, as Homo Sapiens have yet to adapt to the digital age. A Darwinian question? It most certainly is! Look around and you will catch glimpses of those who have taken the evolutionary steps, I call them ‘game changers’ and I am forever tracking them down to work with. They are Today’s X-Men, they see through the chaos of the collapsing industrial age and the shifting sands of the emerging digital reality. Masters , they are, of Kaizen and Kaikaku. Continuous Change pumps every breath and step they take. They entered the Matrix of the Digital Economy with eyes wide open and evolved faster than the rest of us. Build, Measure, Learn….

Sam Walton left us with ten rules for success, one above all others we must embrace: Swim upstream! Today’s X-Men stick two fingers up at industrial age karma, they take none of that by-gone era’s baggage, they evolve fast by stripping non-value out of the equation and they do it one baby step at a time, but many baby steps every day. Game changers operate calmly at the speed of light. Zen and the Art of Digital Age Mastery? Do they give a hoot about Annual budgets? Annual plans? Hefty Job Descriptions? Ivory Towers? Red Brick CVs? Job Titles? 5 year ROIs? 3 year ROIs? 1 year ROIs!!! NO THEY DO NOT! There’s no time for that BS, they are laser focused on failing fast, learning fast, evolving fast. They are forever creating customers through rapid prototyping, pivoting, rapid fluid skills development, adaptive modeling, rapid ROIs. Build, Measure, Learn…. Build, Measure, Learn…. Build, Measure, Learn….

'The Purpose of a Business is to Create a Customer' - Peter Drucker. But times are a changing, the life cycle of a customer is close to immeasurable. So what are we left with?

Build, Measure, Learn…. Business Modeling, Product and Services but also rapid prototyping of mind body and soul. Swim upstream, you never know where it will take you, will you evolve or die? Be assured of one thing.. Master the Build, Measure, Learn spirit of evolution and you’ll come out a better person.


For those of you that follow me you’ll understand this pivot. Take the rapid transformation in the context of evolution mentioned above. Apply this to most Senior Management Teams, it’s a problem I constantly help CEOs de-clutter. The conversation usually starts of with a "Why isn't my CIO helping me win? Isn't this new digital era fuelled by multiple technological revolutions? So why is my CIO so off-track?" OUCH! For crying out aloud Mr. CIO you need to be the CEO’s right hand man (or woman). A catalyst for change. Who else should be the custodian of intellectual debates on how to best evolve through the chaos of digital transformation? Yet many CIOs aren’t taking control of the new reality. Too much time is wasted on industrial age debates about ‘role definition’ and ‘organizational structures’ and other useless blah blah blah. Innovation depends upon taking calculated leap of faiths, so stop being rigid and embrace change, go with the flow. Who cares if the CMO has more IT budget than the CIO? Who cares if there’s a whole mountain of contrasting perceptions on Cloud IT Services versus Internal IT Services? A CIO who has stopped learning and focuses on politics, ego and is unable to speak the language of the modern era deserves to be fired, replaced with someone who has taken the evolutionary jump. But it ain’t just the CIO is it? It’s the whole Senior Management Team that’s standing still; a hundred years on and trench warfare is alive and well in countless boardrooms across the globe.

Rapidly growing your business is hard enough without muddling through the chaos of who owns what budget and why. If you need to swing your stick go find a golf course.

The CEO needs his (or her) tribe to be focused on achieving the remarkable, to owning their own transformation ,and supporting each other. this tribe needs to be continuously creating customers, new value propositions, new business models and continuous customer dialogues validating wave after wave of insights and hypothesis until BANG! WOW! CABADAZOOM exponential growth blasts you forth into the unknown. Build, Measure, Learn….

Dear Homo sapiens, evolve or die. Please stop your industrial age BS. Grab a slice of digital pie, and drive your own rapid transformation. The decision to become a Digital Native is yours and yours alone. Stumbling from the industrial age into the digital age is a mindset away, stumble fast, fall often, validate the learning and try and try again. If at first you don’t succeed…..

Stop procrastinating. Stop playing not to lose. Start playing to win. Nobody ever remembers a silver medalist. Get up and go change the world.

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