Tap into your imagination, make decisions, create change and move at pace

By | AgileBusiness, Culture, Digital Disruption, Digital Economy, Disruptive Innovation, HR, Leadership, Organisational Structure, Strategy, Teams | No Comments

move at pace

Big change is hard and rarely works and trying to change a culture takes a very long time.

Breaking change down into smaller more achievable stages e.g. eating the elephant one bite at a time, feels like common sense and more achievable. Not unlike anything in life where you get better at something step by step.

Willpower will get you so far but often fear of the unknown and the unknown consequences of what you’re about to do get in the way.

Digital transformation started with organisations realising they needed to change and have digital ingrained in their DNA and so they traditionally set in motion a 5 year strategy and plan to do so.

Some of these transformation programmes have failed to gain any real traction because the timeline to see real change is too long and they looked and felt like the big tech projects of the 90’s where the tech was out of date by the time it was developed and launched and everyone lost interest and ability to maintain the required momentum.

It feels now like we’re moving from the big Digital Transformation 20/20 strategies into more ‘visions’ of what the organisation needs to look like underpinned by more agile ‘doing’ incremental approaches to change.

Agility and gaining agility in a business is the next step on from any Digital Transformation initiative in that you know why you need to change and what needs to change, the rest is about what (impact) and when (time).

However we often don’t know how to move fast, or better still at pace, in order to show change quickly so as to onboard or gain the buy in from others and maintain momentum.

A recent study published in the journal Psychological Science, Dissociable Contributions of Imagination and Willpower to the Malleability of Human Patience By Adrianna C. Jenkins and Ming Hsu, hints at the key to making better decisions may be to think of your life as a series of chain reactions, with each choice setting a new sequence in motion.

Just think about that for a second ‘a series of chain reactions, with each choice setting a new sequence in motion.’

Results suggest that sequence framing (classic framing manipulation) can increase the role of imagination in decision making without increasing the exertion of willpower.

The way a choice is framed affects the subjects’ brain activity. Those presented with a simple this-or-that choice showed more activity in areas associated with willpower, while those asked to consider a sequence of events had more activity in areas linked to imagination.

The latter option just might be a more effective way of getting you to consider the consequences of what you’re about to do or the change that’s about to take place.

As study co-author Adrianna Jenkins put it in a statement:

Willpower might enable people to override impatient impulses after they’re formed, whereas imagining future consequences might affect the formation of the impulses themselves.

So imagining future consequences could reduce the formation of negative impulses themselves and if these were smaller changes wouldn’t they also be more acceptable?

Now this got me thinking about the other key factor involved in change programmes, that of time, or our notion of speed, or even better and as we see it, the pace of transformation.

In any transformation journey, not everything changes at the same rate or pace.

In the book, Building the Agile Business, we talk about Pace layering a concept explained by Stewart Brand in his book The Clock of the Long Now.

Pace layering sets out six layers that function and evolve simultaneously at different speeds within society. From fastest to slowest: fashion; commerce; infrastructure; governance; culture; nature.

We’ve taken this concept of pace layering and applied it to Digital Transformation process with elements that develop and evolve at different timescales and speeds. Broadly, from fastest to slowest, from responding to rapidly shifting customer interaction on a continuous basis to cultural change which takes the longest time to transform.

There just might be a connection between moving at pace, or pace layering, breaking change down into smaller more achievable stages, and tapping into your imagination to enable you to engage more than just willpower.

Don’t forget to like (if you did), share (if it was useful) and comment (if it triggers something else)


You can read more about this and more in the book.

For MORE exclusive content related to our book on Building the Agile Business, you can sign up here.








Main Image source: Jay Mantri

Influencers you should be following for Digital Transformation and Agility

By | AgileBusiness, Culture, Customer Exprience, Digital Disruption, Digital Economy, Disruptive Innovation, HR, Leadership, Organisational Structure, Strategy, Teams | One Comment



In today’s content-saturated world with too many meetings and little time to catch up on the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of Digital Transformation and Agility I thought it was worth sharing some sites and people I follow to keep me in tune in the hope that it would help you too.

Who you choose to follow is massively important to your development in terms of understanding key hints insights, trends and developments from people who’ve lived through digital change already.

Here’s just some of the resources you should be reading (sign up for the newsletter) and following (Twitter/Linkedin) to better understand Digital Transformation and creating an Agile Business…

Harvard Business Review  @HarvardBiz – Posts are always great. I’ve searched ‘Digital Transformation’ here to save you the time.

CBInsights  @CBinsights – Disruption and start-up analysis with amusing yet highly insightful newsletter from CEO c0-founder.

TheDigitalTransformationPeople.com  @TheDigitalTP – The ‘sweet shop’ of Digital Transformation related posts and a host of other related topics. Worth signing up for the newsletter.

Rob Llewellyn  @robertllewellyn – Good newsletter and twitter stream.

AgileBusinessManifesto @neilperkin @peterjabraham – Ok so this is a plug for the book neil and me wrote, but also worth reading the blog we update regularly.

Brian Solis   @briansolis – Someone who’s been writing about change, social and digital for some time.

Dion Hinchcliffe @dhinchcliffe – Lots of depth to Dion’s thinking, always worth a read.

MCkinsey Quarterly @McKinsey – Always great observation and directives from McKinsey.

Daniel Newman @danielnewmanuv – Tweets a lot of relevant content!

Tim Creasey @timcreasey – Some great Linkedin posts on Change and Agile.

Stefan Wolpers @stefanw – Lots here from Stefan on Scrum, Agile and Product etc

John Cutler – His perspective on Product dev, Teams, Process etc

Simon Sinek @simonsinek – You should know this one already if not you should check out his TED and Youtube videos.

Ray Wang @rwang0 – Author, researcher…Tweets a lot of great content!

Medium – Lots here, i’ve searched ‘Digital Transformation’ here to save you the time.

Vala Afshar @ValaAfshar – Chief Evangelist at Salesforce…also Tweets a lot of great content!

Econsultancy.com @econsultancy – Digital Marketing and Ecommerce insights related to both Organisations and Digital Agencies


Please add any influencers you follow that are not listed here in the comments section below to help others find the best resources.


For exclusive content related to our book on Building the Agile Business, you can sign up here.








Main Image source: Ryan McGuire

Givers, Takers and Creating the Mindset for Change

By | AgileBusiness, Culture, Teams | No Comments

In Building the Agile Business we describe the importance of supporting the right organisational and individual mindset that can enable you to move fast. This is important since internal politics can act as a powerful brake on agility. The kind of culture that is not infused with the attributes that enable trust but instead is characterised by self-interest counter-acts the ability to empower staff and support the kind of autonomy that can enable you to move fast. One of my favourite analogies for this comes from Guy Kawasaki:

“There are two kinds of people and organizations in the world: eaters and bakers. Eaters want a bigger slice of an existing pie; bakers want to make a bigger pie. Eaters think that if they win, you lose, and if you win, they lose. Bakers think that everyone can win with a bigger pie.”

In Give and Take (which I’ve been re-reading recently) organisational psychologist Adam Grant demonstrates (based on extensive research) that there are three basic kinds of people in the workplace, ‘Givers’, ‘Takers’ and ‘Matchers’, and that the difference between these approaches can be fundamental to our success (or lack of success). Conventional wisdom, he says, has us believe that success is down to a combination of motivation, ability and opportunity, but there is a fourth (critical but often neglected) ingredient – how we choose to interact with other people:

‘Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?’

According to Grant’s research, ‘Takers’ are cautious, self-protective, see the world as a competitive place and so like to get more than they give. These are pie-eaters. ‘Givers’, on the other hand, are pie-bakers – generous, sharing, helping others without being as concerned about reward or personal cost:

‘They tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get. Whereas takers tend to be self-focused, evaluating what other people can offer them, givers are other-focused, paying more attention to what other people need from them.’

In the workplace many of us are not pure ‘Givers’ and ‘Takers’, but instead what Grant calls ‘Matchers’, who operate on a principle of fairness, and strive to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting. We may adopt different styles according to different situations but typically each of us will develop a dominate style for social interaction and behaviour.

When Grant looked at the degree of success that people with the different styles had achieved he found something interesting. ‘Givers’ tended to be at the bottom of the pile, but they were also right at the top of the ladder as the most successful people in the study. ‘Takers’ and ‘Matchers’ fell in the middle:

‘Givers dominate the bottom and the top of the success ladder. Across occupations, if you examine the link between reciprocity styles and success, the givers are more likely to become champs — not only chumps.’

So if ‘Givers’ were both the worst and the best performers, what made the difference? It turned out that successful ‘Givers’ were absolutely as ambitious as ‘Takers’ or ‘Matchers’, but they made smart choices in their interactions with others. Put simply, the ‘Givers’ who excel are those that are willing to ask for help when they need it.

Moreover, when ‘Givers’ do succeed, it has a cascading effect. When ‘Takers’ win, there may well be someone else who loses, but when ‘Givers’ win there is far more likely to be widespread support for them, creating a kind of ripple effect that enhances the success of people around them. People are envious of successful ‘Takers’. People root for successful ‘Givers’. Giver success, says Grant, creates value instead of just claiming it.

Organisational culture has a critical influence over the dominant patterns of behaviour within a business. Cultures that recognise and support ‘Givers’ create their own cascades of success that builds the foundation for exceptional performance. This is precisely why, in transforming business to become more agile, we ignore organisational culture and behavioural and communication norms at our peril.

For more like this, order your copy of Building the Agile Business Through Digital Transformation, or you can join our community to access exclusive content related to the book.

Image source

Why it’s important to be transparent about vision and strategy

By | AgileBusiness, Culture, Customer Exprience, Digital Disruption, Digital Economy, HR, Leadership, Organisational Structure, Strategy | No Comments

Transparency of vision and strategy


Now more than ever it’s important to be transparent about vision and strategy.

Elon Musk famously posted Tesla’s long term strategy in 2006. It’s last line said “don’t tell anyone.” and it’s led to other start-ups and entrepreneurs to follow suit and be transparent about why they exist and how they’ll go about becoming a ‘stay-up’ not just a start-up.

It’s not uncommon to come across a company where the vision is so depleted that no-one in the company can articulate what it is, or was.
Mostly this happens in large corporations but I have seen it in smaller companies too and start-ups which are past the initial investment stages, it’s almost as though leadership assume everyone knows where they’re headed and why.
The Mission, Vision might be exposed at a company meeting a few times but then ends up on the corporate website or intranet or worse in a drawer and isn’t driven home frequently enough.

The same goes for strategy. There might be one that starts as a strategy but then ends up as a number of tactics that different departments have taken the initiative with which they call strategies because they don’t really understand the difference between Vision, Strategy, Plan and Tactics, or worse there’s an assumption that what they are doing fits with the vision and over-arching strategy.
If you want to read more about digital strategy and agility you can read it here:

Some companies are great at physically putting the vision or strategy in parts of the building where they will be seen frequently and in ways that semi articulate the kind of culture they have, e.g. as wall art.

Maybe what’s most important about being transparent about vision and strategy is that it has so many benefits outside of declaring what the company is doing and why it exists.

I’m not going to write in great detail here about each one, but there’s probably a post in each, in the meantime i’ve provided a few links against each to previous posts that have some linkage.

Here’s a few of the benefits of being transparent with Vision and Strategy;

Culture – A culture eats strategy for breakfast…well not in all cases, but a companies culture is often driven by the founding members and then driven by subsequent hires. It changes very slowly, so the communication of Vision and Strategy are paramount to building or maintaining a culture (behaviour).
Read: Mapping organisational culture

Employee Advocacy – makes it easier for employees to write or promote with authority about who they work (obviously within a framework and utilising tools that allow them to do so).

Vision – Focus and Clarity – when things are transparent it’s easier for people to align their own sense of purpose, goals and achievements with the rest of the business.
Read: Digital Transformation and the big opportunity

Employee Engagement – Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose as Dan Pink describes it in his book Drive. These are far easier to align to a vision and strategy that’s known.

Strategy – It’s about Jobs to be done which can apply to a segment just as much as to every user
Read: Segments and Empathy

Resourcing – With the potential rise of the majority of the workforce being employed in an agile capacity, either as contractors, consultants, temporary or freelance, they’ll need to understand the Vision and Strategy of the organisation they’re temporarily working with.
Read: HR and Agile Organisation

Processes – It’s important not to operate by a one-size-fits-all decision-making process.
Read: High velocity decision making

Customers – Customers or Consumers have all the power now, they have ever increasing channels in which to engage, disrupt or complain about an organisation. Your customers need to know what you stand for too.


In the book we talk about all these things.

For exclusive content related to the upcoming book on Building the Agile Business, you can sign up here.








Image source: ale_ranica