I never intend to halt my public writing. It just happens. A client invites me to work on interesting problem, which can lead to another interesting problem or client, and before long only the crickets remain here. During this latest, much prolonged, cricket chorus I’ve been helping clients pursue digital agenda items. It is critical to […]
From the esteemed Jeanne W. Ross on studying customer obsessed, digitally ambitious Nordstrom: DON’T: Only a small percentage of companies will gain competitive advantage from [social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and internet of things] SMACIT technologies. Those that do will focus less on the individual technologies and more on how they rally all those technologies, in […]
I’ve often said the future belongs to the dot-connectors. Webber’s Rule of Thumb #7, the System is the Solution, describes it perfectly:
My point is that embedded in every company, in every organization, is a system. When you see the system and not just the individual pieces you increase your chances of winning.
Most people look at a company and see the organization chart. Or the pyramid of functions. Or the products and services the company offers as output.
Systems thinkers see the relationships, not the functions. They see the processes, not the stand-alone components or the final products. It’s the difference between looking at a fence and noticing the barbed wire running horizontally rather than the fence posts standing vertically.
Sometimes it helps to do something as simple as drawing a picture with arrows to show what would otherwise be invisible connections. A drawing of a three-legged stool isn’t a sophisticated operations chart, but it makes the point about how magazines need to operate as a system.
Systems thinking can also help when you’re trying to solve a perplexing problem. If you want to untangle the clues as to how something went wrong, think like a detective: figure out who all the players are and how they relate to each other. Usually it’s the system, not one person or department, that explains the real cause of the problem.
One thing is sure: the future belongs to systems thinkers.
For extra credit, see Rule #10 A Good Question Beats a Good Answer:
Why do questions matter more than answers? If you don’t ask the right question, it doesn’t matter what your answer is. And if you do ask the right question, no matter what your answer, you will learn something of value.
Questions are how we learn. Which means questions are how we create change…
Source: Webber, Alan M. (2009-04-10). Rules of Thumb (p. 32). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
Another perspective, similar findings:
“Companies in all industries and regions are experimenting with — and benefiting from — digital transformation. Whether it is in the way individuals work and collaborate, the way business processes are executed within and across organizational boundaries, or in the way a company understands and serves customers, digital technology provides a wealth of opportunity.”
MIT Center for Digital Business research surfaced 9 elements across three categories:
Transforming Customer Experience
- Customer Understanding
- Top-Line Growth
- Customer Touch Points
Transforming Operational Processes
- Process Digitization
- Worker Enablement
- Performance Management
Transforming Business Models
- Digitally Modified Businesses
- New Digital Businesses
- Digital Globalization
“The potential impact of digital technology varies widely by industry, but most enterprise leaders share an important challenge: how to get beyond the small share of the prize they are capturing today by looking for impact across the whole value chain.”
Source: Finding your Digital Sweet Spot, McKinsey
Related McKinsey Research: The Digital Enterprise