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Are you stalling?

I am a fan of frameworks, as a way to organize complex thoughts and providing a map to follow. I have created my fair share over the years.  It gives us a way to start and guidance. But it's just that, guidance. It's not absolute.  You might have another way to frame things that is just as good. It's  your vision of the world or your way of approaching this problem. Great, let’s compare and contrast and choose one way to approach things. 

There is no absolute certainty in a framework and looking for it only delays the hard work that needs to be done. The world we seek to create doesn’t exist yet. The technology we’ll be living with in 15 years, hasn’t come to fruition and its full impact is yet unknown. 

The uncertainty of it is the point. The important thing is to start. The risk of doing nothing almost certainly outweighs the risk of doing something. 

Steeping in your own expertise for too long can keep you stuck in...

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Five fundamentals to reimagine the workplace and why "worklife balance" is a setup for failure.

For every survey I’ve read stating that over 70% of people are looking forward to getting back to the office, I’ve read another stating 70% would be willing to continue working from home.

These results should come as no surprise, as it is not - and has never been -  a black and white issue. Shopify’s recent news, along with many notable tech firms, to be digital first and 100% remote will create much needed discussion but it does not have to be an “all or nothing” proposition.

This shift in the nature of work (e.g. teleworking, remote work, gig economy, virtual work, flexible work programs) was occurring way before the pandemic. Many organizations – granted mostly in high tech -   such as Buffer, GitLab and Zapier – which were already 100% virtual, are proving that the model does work and some of their practices can translate to more traditional industries and corporate cultures.

However, what we are seeing now is a crisis-induced...

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How Trust will Shape the Future of Work

I was speaking to a friend last week who works for a large software company that, in pre-pandemic reality, had no remote work options. In the last staff update, the CEO admitted that with 100% of the staff working remotely, there has been no significant drop in productivity (other than the first two weeks of the “adaptation” period).  

There is a pervasive belief or perception that if you can’t physically see someone sitting at their desk doing work, you just don’t know if they are getting anything done.  Seth Godin said it simply in one of his last blogs: there is only three ways to tell if people are hard at work:

  1. The boss can watch them go to meetings and they can watch each other in meetings
  2. The boss can watch them sit at desks in an office or
  3. We can make promises to each other and keep them.
  4. I will add an insidious fourth way, inspired by a recent New York Times article stating that demand has surged for employee monitoring software...
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How to harness your big ideas, especially in a time of crisis

Which type of leader are you: a visionary or an operator?  Every business needs both as one cannot succeed without the other. Very few leaders are able to see the big picture and manage the details.  

 Visionaries are those that see “what could be” and come up with new ideas regularly.  As an entrepreneur and CEO, I put myself squarely in the visionary bucket as I’m constantly jotting down new product or service ideas, new ways of creating value for my own business and for others. I journal every morning as a way to channel that energy and document my thoughts.

Generally, this passion has served me well. However in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this “idea engine” can go into hyper drive.   Why? Because visionaries tend to see challenges as opportunities. Opportunities to create solutions, adapt and pivot into new drivers of value.

The challenge is this:  If a visionary jumps on every new idea without...
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Three key questions to get your business back into gear and moving now.

In my conversation with other leaders and business owners who must adapt how they deliver products and services or must shift their business models entirely, there is one analogy that resonated with me the most: the hierarchy of needs. 

If you’re like us at Differly, most of our services tend to be at the mid-to-top of the pyramid of needs. Meaning if a company is doing fairly well in terms of stability and revenue, it now looks to scale and grow impact or reach. Perhaps they want to develop a loyalty program, accelerate operational efficiency, supercharge and modernize sales and marketing or develop a digital transformation road map. 

Cue COVID-19 and everyone is now operating at the bottom of the pyramid.  Meaning, if your product or services don't help to address the continuity of a business or address an urgent need, your pitch is likely falling on deaf ears. Even if you’re one of the lucky companies with rising revenues at the moment (we need you...

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Why we Need Leaders with a “Digital State of Mind”

Just as Billy Joel coined the term “New York State of Mind”, the Fourth Revolution might be associated with a “Digital State of Mind”.  The major drivers of disruption – social media, big data, mobility (anywhere, anytime computing), cloud and now AI and robotics – have radically changed how we work, the nature of competition and customer expectations. With technology changing so fast, it is easy to think that mastering these drivers is the main path to success.  However, an increasing amount of research is pointing to the fact that leaders are the true differentiators.

In an article published in the Harvard Business Review in 2014, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, authors Didier Bonnet and George Westerman concluded that a leader’s capabilities had a huge impact on the organization’s capacity to fulfill technology’s potential. They offer as examples: the ability to develop a cohesive...

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Five Attributes Required to Lead in the Digital Economy

What does it mean to lead in an age of rapid change and disruption? Although we’ve been leveraging technology for decades, organizations are still grappling with being digital. As we’ve seen with many technology projects gone awry, technology alone does not make an organization digitally adept.  More than ever, the cultural shift, the capabilities and in particular, the changes required in leadership styles are the true barriers.

If you think about the environment in which leaders operated less than a decade ago:

  1. Information was power. (Leaders typically had access to the most data.)
  2. Information was hierarchical. We expected leaders to have all the answers.
  3. Leaders had to appear in control. Being unsure was generally frowned upon.
  4. Generally speaking, leaders were not allowed to make mistakes (or they could not readily admit they made a mistake).

Fast forward to the last five or six years in particular, and the world is more than ever:

  1. Social (People based....
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Is content planning killing your vibe?

Content, content, content - Yes, it’s still king and should still be at the top of the marketing or digital strategy agenda. So where to start? How does it fit in the overall marketing or communications plan? How to consistently produce? After helping a dozen or so organizations tackle the challenge of content,  I’ve distilled it into four main phases and developed a content framework (at the end of the post) to help visualize the process with your team.

But first, what’s the difference? Content Marketing vs. Content Strategy.

Whereas content marketing is typically aimed at building an audience and meeting marketing or communications objectives, such as lead nurturing or engagement (it’s the ‘why’ of the content), the content strategy as a whole should also outline how the organization will create, gather and distribute the content. I like to simply refer to it as a content strategy as it combines both of these disciplines.

At its core, your...

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Technology as a Steward, not a Master. Five Steps to Enable Disruptive Tech.

Should we still use the term “digital”?  A colleague challenged me last week on whether we should strip it out of our vernacular and simply say Strategy instead of “Digital Strategy” or Business instead of “Digital Business” and just transformation instead of “Digital Transformation”.  I’ve always thought of digital transformation as a level of maturity, a gradual process that unfolds across the organization over time. In that context, disruptive technologies in my experience, are much further ahead than most organization’s ability to capitalize on them. This is not a slight, but rather the reality of exponential tech and the pace of change. Technology is simply progressing much faster than our operating models are able to adapt.

So in this context,  I think it's fair to still use “digital” as a qualifier...to almost everything. Yes, even if it seems outdated. Why? Because change is difficult. In...

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