Random thoughts about a changing business world


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A small list of musings or if you want, “beliefs” about the inner workings of today’s businesses.

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Random thoughts about a changing business world

  1. 1. random thoughts about a changing business world Marc Buyens marc.buyens@xpragma.com www.xpragma.comNotes accompany this presentation. Please select Notes Page view.These materials can be reproduced only with Gartner’s official approval.Such approvals may be requested via e-mail — quote.requests@gartner.com.
  2. 2. About this presentationThis is a small list of musings or if you want, “beliefs” that we have about the innerworkings of today’s businesses. They are just a random selection. There isnt arelation between the different items, no system behind, no specific ranking.In this world of accelerating change, few frameworks or methodologies are availablethat can help us making sense of emerging opportunities and challenges. So, havingthese “beliefs” helps us making sense. They give direction, they provide context,they are some kind of rules of thumb that help us understanding the real potential orthe likely failure of new approaches and technologies.None of these thoughts must be viewed as an absolute truth. As with most things inlife, things are rarely completely black or white. There are always shades of grey.None of these thoughts are very detailed either. There is much more that can be saidabout each of them. However, when being faced with growing complexity, simplerules often work best..
  3. 3. Evolution isn’t an interconnected network that allows you to choose pathsas you wish; evolution is a tree and you climb the branches
  4. 4. Evolution isn’t an interconnected network that allows you to choose paths as youwish; evolution is a tree and you climb the branchesWhile making decisions, we always have this expectation that, when things don’t turnout as expected, we will be able to recover, to retreat, to return to our startingposition.This, unfortunately, is an illusion.Whatever small step we take, it has consequences. It leaves traces. It cannot beundone.Of course, this should not be an excuse for not making decisions.However, before doing so, it might be worthwhile considering whether we reallywant to face the consequences.
  5. 5. Employees are individuals
  6. 6. Employees are individualsAll employees, even when having identical jobs, are different individuals. The onlything they have in common is a job description.Therefore, when looking at a functional group within an organisation, we must lookat it as being a network of individuals having complex interactions, instead of viewingit as a row of silent dots.Especially in these times of the deployment of social networking tools within theenterprise, we must be well aware of the fact that the “social enterprise” should notbe about connecting anyone to anyone, but about connecting someone to someone.
  7. 7. Resistance to change does not exist
  8. 8. Resistance to change does not existWhile implementing change programs. resistance to change is often viewed as amajor roadblock. That is weird, because it does not exist.Just have a look at our own private life. We grow up, get married, get a job, buy ahouse, get kids: a continuous sequence of fundamental changes. Yet, do weexperience this as "change"? So, why do we do in a business context?Well, the main difference is our perception of the level of control that we have overthe situation.In our private life we have, in reality, little control over all these things, but we feelconfident that we will manage. Consequently, we view change as an opportunity.In a company context and especially as a regular employee, we know that our level ofcontrol is limited and therefore, we view change as a risk. And then, we need Kotters8-step change model. Step one: Create a sense of urgency....
  9. 9. The problem is that there is a solution
  10. 10. The problem is that there is a solutionWhen envisioning the future, we humans have this fundamental handicap that ourthinking is severely conditioned by what we already know, by the things that weknow are possible, by the solutions that we know are available.As such, there’s nothing wrong with that. It makes absolutely sense. However, thisbehaviour has the inherent risk of scanning our world for problems and matchingthem with the solutions that we know, without really asking whether we areaddressing a root cause problem or just the symptoms of a much deeper problem.
  11. 11. Humans are not social
  12. 12. Humans are not socialWell, this one is certainly a bit controversial, especially for the social business punditswho claim that “business has to be social because people are social”.They are right, of course. We humans are indeed social. It is somewhere in our genes.In the past, working together was a bare necessity for the survival of the human race.However today, little of this “bare necessity” still remains. In addition, various formsof formal company constructs, such as hierarchies, departments and job descriptions,disturb the mechanisms of normal human interactions.The outcome is a variety of behaviours whereby people try to do less than their fairpart of the work or try to get more than their fair part of the gains.So, “social” might be a characteristic of the average behaviour of individuals, butdon’t count on it too much..
  13. 13. Youngsters are adults
  14. 14. Youngsters are adultsWell, this isn’t really a scientifically correct statement, but what we mean by this isthat we largely overestimate our ability to “change” individuals. Countless amountsof time and money are spent on training programs that will not deliver any result.Reality is that, once grown up, there is very little that will ever change to our“personality”, even when having to face extreme challenges. This does not meanthat we can no longer learn. If you are an introvert, very likely you might not likespeaking in public. However, this is something you can learn; you can become askilled presenter; you might even like doing it. Still, you remain an introvert and it willshow in a myriad of situations in your day-to-day activities.Far too many training programs try to address aspects of our personality that cannotbe changed. You can bring individuals in situations that are unfamiliar, making themto react in a “different” way. However, once these artificial conditions disappear,everything returns to normal.You cannot transform a mule into a race horse. You simply have to make sure thatyou hire the right individuals for your business.
  15. 15. When being faced with new challenges, failure is rarelycaused by not understanding the new paradigms, but ratherby our belief of understanding the old ones
  16. 16. When being faced with new challenges, failure is rarely caused by notunderstanding the new paradigms, but rather by our belief of understanding the oldonesEach time a new technology emerges, sales people and consultants will rush intoyour office, explaining you how this great new technology will “transform” yourbusiness.Granted, many of these new technologies can really add value. However, in mostcases, they are only “transformational” to the extent that you did not understand,implement and use the previous generation of solutions.So, try understanding why this new solution can claim to be really transformational inyour specific business context and fix before you buy...
  17. 17. Quantum entanglement is OK, even for engineers
  18. 18. Quantum entanglement is OK, even for engineersQuantum entanglement is one of these weird phenomena in quantum physicswhereby it has been found that, in specific situations, two particles are still able to“influence” each other while, according to today’s theories, this should be impossible(e.g. because they move away from each other at light speed).It is one of these things that make life interesting: to know that there are still thingsto discover.But also in business, there is still much to learn and to discover. In today’s increasinglycomplex world, little of the traditional management wisdom still holds. In this newcomplex business world, companies will no longer be able to control and to planevery aspect of their business environment. The complexity just gets too great.Instead, they must organise for better adaptability, resilience and recoverability,which are all competences that call for less hierarchical control and more self-controlat all levels of the organisation...
  19. 19. The solution is never the reason for the success
  20. 20. The solution is never the reason for the successIn management literature there is this very popular thing, called the “business case”.The concept is simple. Solution ‘X’ is a current hype, so you look how successfulcompany ‘Y’ is using it, a so-called “best practice”. Or you examine a number ofsuccessful companies and you look for what they have in common, a so-called “driverfor success”.The problem with approaches like this is that they look at the relationship betweenbusiness success and a single dimension of the business activity. That can beinteresting. However, such approach also suggests that there is a causal link betweenthat single dimension and the business success.Unfortunately, reality is that successful companies never are successful just becausethey are excellent in just this single aspect of their business. They are successfulbecause they are excellent in every aspect of their business.So, the only thing the business case really tells us is that, even when using this “greatnew solution”, you can still be successful...
  21. 21. Colour
  22. 22. ColourSitting on the train in front of two Muslim girlsBoth very traditionally dressed wearing white kerchiefsVividly talking about their planned visit to the hairdresserTo have their hair colouredSometimes, everything seems perfectly normal in this crazy worldIn far too many aspects of our business activities, we think to know and tounderstand and we take decisions, based upon this understanding. Yet, in mostcases, this understanding is incorrect, based on perceptions or, at least, veryincomplete.There are no miracle remedies for this, no tools that we can buy. We just have toexperience it the hard way..
  23. 23. annex
  24. 24. Creative Commons Roger Blackwell Vatsek kevindooleyShazronArmy Medicine istolethetv pugetsoundphotowalks korobokkuru ShellVacationsHospitality flguardian2 markhillary
  25. 25. Creative Commons Kevindooley http:// www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/ Shazron http://www.flickr.com/photos/shazron/ Vatsek http://www.flickr.com/photos/25951201@N07/ Roger Blackwell http://www.flickr.com/photos/rogerblackwell/ Army Medicine http://www.flickr.com/photos/armymedicine/ Istolethetv http://www.flickr.com/photos/istolethetv/ Pugetsoundphotowalks http://www.flickr.com/photos/25636851@N03/ Korobokkuru http://www.flickr.com/photos/97172203@N00/ Markhillary http://www.flickr.com/photos/markhillary/ ShellVacationsHospitality http://www.flickr.com/photos/28685147@N04/ Flguardian2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/flguardian2/flguardian2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/flguardian2/flguardian2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/flguardian2/