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The Pitfall of Results: How to know when the journey itself outweighs the outcomes.

leadership operations Jun 11, 2021

The desire for results is deeply ingrained in well-established strategic planning methodologies. What gets measured gets done; set your rocks; review quarterly goals and outcomes. The pitfall of this hyper-focus on results is that the process of doing and learning as the outcome can get lost.

Many industries and organizations face an urgent need to rethink how they create and deliver value in a digital economy. Articulating any major strategy shift is the first big hurdle. Still, anyone involved in bringing that strategy to life knows the biggest challenge by far is the process of continual implementation. So, what happens when your organization requires not only a significant shift in its strategy but also a significant shift in the way it executes that strategy?

In other words, the organization can be adept at identifying where it can “win” but will often fail at understanding the organizational barriers that will need to be broken to make that strategy a reality.

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Five to Thrive: Five things to keep in mind when considering a major transformation

 

 

At Differly, we work with many organizations that are facing an urgent need to rethink, how they create and deliver value to customers in a digital economy. Some will call this a transformation (if there are many initiatives to manage at the same time to make the shift) and others will call it a continual process of innovation.  Either way, it's really not about technology but rather a business strategy. 

If you're a leader thinking about or embarking on a major shift, here are five guiding principles to focus your efforts

1. Always put the customer at the heart of the transformation

Customer behavior is arguably the biggest shift of the digital revolution. How can you design and deliver a better end-to-end experience leveraging both on and offline channels seamlessly? Can you leverage digital technology to remove any barrier, friction, and continually deliver additional value? 

2. Align on vision

Before determining the pain points,...

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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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The Benefits of Knowing the Gaps

For close to 9 years now, I've made a practice of regularly assessing my goals, both personal and business. After about 10 years into my career, I was finding myself getting caught up in a frenetic pace of daily/weekly to-do lists.  To counter this, I started to get up much earlier in the morning at 5 a.m  to journal, center myself and plan the day ahead. Once the kids arrived - we now have three under 9 - it also provided critical alone time.  But more importantly, this is when I started taking stock of my broader life goals. It may sound intense but it doesn't have to be if done regularly.

I focus on the lifestyle that I want to achieve and general outcomes I'm aiming for. For example some of my desired outcomes are freedom to travel, diversity of work and clients, constant learning and growth, total mind and body fitness.  I then look at my current day to day activities and see if they are aligned to those outcomes. Am I losing my way? If so, is it temporary?...

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Defining Digital

Five short years ago, if you were to ask organizational leaders to define their digital strategy, the answer would either pertain to their digital marketing efforts or be synonymous with IT. Today, “digital” refers to a more all-encompassing approach,  impacting technology choices, customer experience, organizational culture, leadership styles and of course business models. It’s no wonder organizations are struggling to define their digital strategy.

The latest PwC Digital IQ report suggests that in order to keep up with Canada’s growing commitment to innovation, Canadian executives must gain a better understanding of what it means “to be digital”. While 47% of Canadian leaders see “digital” as a holistic strategy, covering technology and innovation related activities as well as cultural and mindset shifts, 30% of them see it mainly as a customer facing activity.

Therein lies the shift. Organizations are still grappling on how to...

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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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Organizations don’t disrupt, People do. Technology helps.

A successful - and sometimes transformative - business model represents a better way. When we think about an industry in “transformation” such as traditional print, media or retail, we often think about the adoption of a new technology as the better way. However, new tech is not transformative in and of itself.  Rather, what creates disruption is the ability to envision how we will leverage emerging tech in order to address an anticipated market need.

There are a number of commonalities in digital business models that make them transformative.  The IMD Center for Digital Business Transformation wrote one of the most informative white papers on the topics of Digital Business Models. Their research into the business models of over 100 disruptors revealed three main themes based on creating value: 1) Cost Value 2) Experience Value 3) Platform Value. Successful models will often use a combination of more than one of these.

Delivering Value Based on Cost

Here the...

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