Adapting to and thriving in the age of speed and the customer
For the best part of this decade, we embraced the term the age of the customer. Companies that keep customers at the centre of everything they do outperform the rest. It still holds true and will always do. It strikes me how something this obvious was not a given in the past, but whatever the reasons, we know customer centricity is here to stay.
Best way to prove its relevance is to revisit Kerry Bodine and Harley Manning´s book Outside In and see how every chapter still lives up as an excellent reference of how to put your customers at the centre of everything you do.
The difference now is the speed of change and the impact this speed has on customers and organisations alike. Speed was significant back then, it is now much bigger and will only accelerate in the future. We live in the age of speed AND the customer.
We have more knowledge, yes, but this only accelerates change even further. The more knowledge we have, the faster the change and the more significant the uncertainty about what we need to do, or how to do it. Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but very true. We are building solutions for new problems and have little, or no experience dealing with it in the current business context.
Current models are being disrupted. Current roles are obsolete. Existing structures are old. This is the norm in the age of speed. The number one reason why we need to transform our organisations is that our company structures were not designed for the speed of change we experience today.
I specifically chose to use the word organisation instead of the word digital when referring to transformation. Of course, we need digital knowledge and tools to help us do the work, but we need a fundamental review of the organisation to ensure we can thrive and deliver value in today´s world. How do we do it?
Good news is we have great examples of companies adapting and learning from others. There are four things we can do to compete in this new age:
- Embrace the fact we need to and will need to transform all the time. When cars replaced horses, speed became faster. The most significant impact was not only on those breeding and selling horses but on those companies from any other sector that wanted to continue doing business at the same pace as before. It is time to build a culture that supports constant adaptation and shines in the age of speed.
- Empower teams by adapting your structure and help them transform their roles and the company. If you want your team to lead the change from within, it is imperative to train and guide your team on agile concepts, customer understanding, business model improvement, experimentation, data models and analysis, to name but a few key topics.
- Ignite your team to drive the change and use this opportunity to revitalise their career working in virtual teams and collaborating in multi-functional groups, or with external companies. We need their knowledge more than ever, and we need them fired up. Use the new knowledge to create a common language and understanding of where we are going and how to move there.
- Ensure momentum and progress. Life always gets on the way, and this will be no exception. Find help to drive these initiatives, reinforce knowledge and help the team prioritise execution to see results. Change starts from within, and there are multiple ways to support your team in this exciting period.
The age of speed is still about the customer and customers themselves need our help more than ever before.
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