By Doyle Buehler
We are at the base of Mount Everest, looking upwards, and have little idea how we really got here, or what we need to do next. There is an insidious realization that we are, in fact, at the edge of a new expedition. And, we’re not really sure if we should be angry, frustrated, or excited about what might come next.
If we’ve learned anything from the past, it’s that not all expeditions end in success. Yet, there is no safety, no sanctity in the same old “normal.” It’s not the road less travelled, it’s not “just” another story anymore; it’s now an economic expedition that you must go on, up the mountain of value that you’re sitting on.
Yet, we are incredibly inadequately prepared for the next steps. We wouldn’t survive the night, if this was a real-world expedition. Digital has always been somewhat “flippant” about how most businesses were using it.
While the instinct right now is to grab a life raft to get us across this raging river, or a ladder to get us out of the chasm that we are currently in, those who are the most prepared and the most far-sighted and strategic will be at an advantage when we come through the current situation.
We do, in essence, have three simple choices in front of us:
“Do nothing” - which will see the demise of business quicker, yet we can be frozen in fear of the unknown.
“Do something” - which may keep us ‘alive’ for a bit longer or “business as usual”, but offers no foundation to sustain us against this shift in business.
“Do strategic” - which creates the foundation for business growth; a flight plan forward that helps navigate the steps ahead. Strategy eats chaos for breakfast.
We are now in the liminal space - the transition between “what was” and “what will be”; between the existing, previous “transactional” space of “business as usual” business, and now forward toward the “transformational” space of delivery, experience and value creation. This is “Doing Strategic”.
The transition that businesses need to take to maximise what they are doing online amidst the global changes we're seeing is multifold:
leveraging their digital platforms for remote working for staff and management,
maintaining and growing real-time leadership,
implementing and delivering online training,
moving training and networking events online,
understanding and creating a real-time roadmap that maintains continuity of the business, and
developing a digital workflow that keeps their business moving forward.
There really is no difference between the basement broadcast studio and the multinational corporate employee working from home today; we all look the same on Zoom, and we can be anywhere, at any time.
From great problems come amazing possibilities.
The businesses that are moving to dominate value delivery in their niche, develop digital experiences worth remembering and defining value creation that surprises and delights are the ones who will create the next future.
Yet, it still doesn’t make it any easier. Businesses must strengthen their digital foundation. There is no other alternative. Most businesses are running “shallow”—about 40% of what they do is online or digital—from leads-to-learning moments and selling actual products and services. To fully leverage the digital economy, this needs to increase significantly.
This is where the shift starts, and the Digital Expedition begins.
Not every business can make this shift. We need to change how we think about business, and create real-time, connected and adaptive digital challenger brands.
We need to power business out of the digital darkness. Harness the real power of digital. We need to elevate digital challenger brands and adaptive businesses to become aligned and shifting UPwards in this disruptive digital economy. And, we need to engineer digital assets for challenger brands to thrive in this disruptive digital economy, in creating a digital ecosystem that is second to none.
We need the new CEO of the 2020’s to become The Chief Expedition Officer. One who can strategize, plan, organise and implement. One who can recognise the liminal space and make a clear “flight plan” forward, for the next approach at the next destination. One who can equip his team with everything that is needed for this digital expedition - the steps, the strategies, the basecamps, the learnings. And, more importantly, one who can lead the digital expedition through what is certain to be a difficult mission, to the point of certainty and beyond.
It is one of the most challenging times in history. Not just for people, but also for business. We need to become Digital Challengers and Digital Leaders - not just digital followers anymore.
The new Digital Challengers, the new Expedition Leaders and the Chief Expedition Officers need to provide new and structured direction - we are in a new “expedition of experience, delivery and value creation the world over”, and this is where the journey starts.