We change mind-sets
Every now and then I have to write a blatantly promotional piece about the work we do. When I see a need repeated over and over again and it appears to be something that has an element of newness about it, I write a Daily Paradox on the subject. Especially if it happens to be a paradox. Today’s message comes with a question. Why are mind-sets becoming less flexible? Why now and so suddenly? Is it the ‘Analytica’ effect? Is it a wearying of Facebook? Is it the rise of so many other social media? Is it the increasing dominance of WhatsApp for quick and punchy messages?
It may, of course, be a combination of some of these. Or even a distraction like a looming trade war or more revelations about cross-border poison attacks. Whatever it is, there is no question that many business minds are hardening to resist digitisation – or even to understand what it means for a particular business. The pace of change is frightening. I accept that learning what is happening on digitisation, robotics and AI all at the same time is becoming very demanding.
What we see is full acceptance of all these changes by about half the MNCs we deal with but recognition of its importance by only perhaps 15% of SMEs. Strangely, the SMEs are going to be even more affected than the MNCs. Letting go staff is never pleasant but for big businesses it seems more impersonal. It never is, of course. SMEs seem to be digging in with a mind-set that either says ‘we’ll cope when we have to and not before’ or ‘a little bit of increased automation won’t affect us much’. Both attitudes are worrying and potentially dangerous.
Digitisation means that you will be able to use the vast quantities of data you have amassed to help you make better judgments than you have made in the past. This is not an indictment of your previous decisions. Experienced business people are good at making unsubstantiated forecasts and ‘having a nose’ for their industry. They wouldn’t survive if they didn’t.
So nobody is suggesting that they have been wantonly wrong. All digitisation will do is increase – in some cases only marginally – the rightness of decisions affecting capital and its timing, markets and the consumer behaviour change that is going to disrupt all selling for a long time to come. The trouble is that ‘marginal’ may be the edge that allows you to survive. In many industries the difference between success and failure is quite small.
To approach the treasure trove of data that you have you must first examine the questions you are asking about market, logistics and production. They may be the old questions, valid in their day but before the time of Amazon, drones, 3D and 4D printing, self-driving cars and social media. See how the advertising industry has been caught out by change – and it is an industry that is all about creating change. Talk about watching your own doorstep.
If you approach digitisation and big data as ‘faster computers’ you will miss the point. Use the analogy of the bees and the locusts. Locusts are mass media, mob attackers, swarm invaders. Effective in a bludgeoning way, rather like the big tanks of WWII. But they are being left behind and the pollen-gathering bees are taking over with their selective and precise process of pin-point accuracy. It is fair to say the one is destructive and the other, constructive.
That is what is happening to the world. And it is happening to every business, to every home, to every couple and to every individual. It demands knowledge but there are plenty of people who understand the technology. It is not your job to substitute for them. It is your job to revisit the whole basis on which you make, package, ship, distribute and market your product or service. Ask the questions a rookie might ask and incur the wrath of the experienced. It is a time of revolution like we have never witnessed before. But this time we are the actors not the audience.
We have always taken a fundamentalist view at Terrific Mentors International. It has so far paid off for our clients. On the issue of digitisation we are clear that our first job with anyone who wants to move forward is to get their mind-set straight. Where they have been whacking a market they must now be tickling it. And the questions we ask for a successful tickle are very different from those employed to thump.
As with all evolution, ask the right questions and you will be given the right answers. But the questions must come from you. If you need help in framing those questions, please drop us a line.
By doing so you will have asked the first correct question. The answer is ‘yes, we can help’
Now for the second question.