A good New Year's resolution

November 29, 2017

In 2018, I am going to make my business digitally fit

This is one of the most exciting times ever: We are currently somewhere between the analogue and the digital ages. The digital age does not only open up new opportunities but also entails entirely new challenges for organizations and leaders. Sabine Hoffmann, founder of ambuzzador, explains what is particularly important in this context, namely organizational agility so as to be able to create customer experiences in real time.

I have for many years worked intensively with renowned national and international companies, making it possible for me to gain deep insight into the different challenges of the digital age. My findings are at one and the same time sobering and pleasant: In most cases, businesses fail in their digitalization efforts not because they lack ideas but for organizational reasons. The first hurdle facing executives in dealing with the complexities of the digital transformation is that there are old organizational cultures and old organizational structures optimized towards the efficient production of products, complete with all the processes this involves. But the digital age is about creating (customer) experiences in real time.

The age of optimization is over

New digital paradigms call for new answers. What is incredibly helpful in this context is to always analyze an organization from a customer perspective in order to get into a self-learning mode through a process of iteration.

It is for this purpose that we have developed the Agile Learning Loop in collaboration with Agile Coach Angel Diaz Maroto. This four-phase process is designed to analyze a problem from a customer perspective, develop new approaches and put them to the test, making it possible to get from the problem to an initial solution in as little as 4 weeks.

picture Agile Learning Loop
4 phases from the problem to first solutions: with the Agile Learning Loop © ambuzzadorABC und Angel Diaz Maroto

Within 2 to 3 days, it will become clear what is and is not worth pursuing. As a result, development times can significantly be reduced and, most importantly, the risk of taking things in a wrong direction will decrease to a minimum. This is the basis for utmost agility. The final step is to make a “reality check”. The process is supported, sped up and intensified by means of targeted conversation design on social media, which is sometimes the beginning of yet another Agile Learning Loop.

Increasing agility and decision-making capabilities loop by loop

The outcome of the process is clear: The organization develops in a self-learning mode and in line with customer expectations, allowing it to maximize its decision-making capabilities with a view to boldly tackling the challenges of the future and solving them step by step—every day and with every action it takes.

It does not matter whether an organization is a huge, innovative business or a start-up with considerable financial resources—this is a topic of general concern: Organizations need to strike out in new directions and make the most of the opportunities of the digital age, increasing their agility levels loop by loop.

What it takes for digital innovation projects to succeed

You can initiate the first loop and get your team going by taking the following 5 steps:

  1. High priority: Choose a project that is of existential importance to your organization.

  2. Learning objective: The primary objective should be to try new things and learn something. Take novel and different approaches. You may fail early, but that is better than failing when it is too late. Ideally, define personal development targets for everyone involved. Encourage people not only to work on their digital fitness but also to make an investment in their future and that of the organization.

  3. Interdisciplinary team: Build a team that includes people from all departments concerned and that is experienced and resourceful enough to act on its own and take its own decisions. Without hierarchies or decision-making bodies.

  4. Dedicated resources: Give this powerful team its own room, time and financial resources. Every successful team has a strong coach, so ensure that there is an Agile Business Coach to support your team in following agile routines and bringing them to life.

  5. Courage to experiment: At this point, there is one more hurdle to overcome—you need to have the courage to break tasks and topics down into more manageable units. Never forget: The best way to eat salami is to slice it.

I would like to finish my article by wishing you creative, relaxing holidays and an agile start into digital 2018!

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