Talk is cheap, accountability is key
Minimum viable change doesn’t mean just talking about change though. We worked with a large, global cement company whose leaders often trumpeted the value of “failing fast” when it came to the way its sales team interacted with customers, an innovation bromide that sounds easier than it is. We saw that though this willingness to adopt a new mindset in pursuit of a new business model was encouraged in the abstract, when people actually did it, they were discouraged immediately. This kind of “whack-a-mole” resistance to new ways of operating was entrenched. So, the company doubled down and initiated a practice where, at the start of every senior leadership meeting, someone shared a “productive failure”, for example, here’s how I failed in attempting to change the way I interact with customers, here’s what I learned from that failure, and how I will adapt going forward. With leaders holding themselves accountable in this way, the new mindset was able to take hold throughout the organization.
These may be “small” steps initially, but they are powerful ways for established companies to re-orient their processes and thinking to take advantage of new digital opportunities, like AI-based services plays. Our experience has been that they work more effectively than what we call “doing digital,” simply throwing money at expensive new tech or wholesale infrastructure changes in an attempt to force new results.