We Dare Not Fail Ourselves

Waiheke Winter Light

We live in a world surrounded by terror and unrest. The immediate agony of disease, displacement and starvation pervades. Technological advancements bring economic uncertainty to many disengaged workers.

70 years ago Sir John Gorton, who went on to be Prime Minister of Australia, spoke of a similar world. Surrounded by so much intolerance I believe his advice echoes across the ages. May he inspire all of us to be fiercer with ourselves, with our relationships and the world around us. May we never be complacent. May we be brave and not accept injustice, wherever and however we find it.

Hear his words and be watchful: –

“We cannot expect to make a new and better world as a result of the exercise of brute military force. We can only expect to achieve the kind of world we want by the use of brains and effort during peace.”

“We must raise the spiritual standard of living so that we may get a spirit of service to the community and so that we may live together without hate, even though we may differ on the best road to reach our objectives.”

Tomorrow we must carry on again. And the tasks which lie in front of us are immense and urgent as never before.”

“What can we do? Individually, it may not be much. But we can at least all think on the problems which are in front of us and be ready to act on our thoughts if the opportunity arises. We can try to reason out how we may best provide a full and satisfactory life for all our citizens. We can practise tolerance and understanding. And we can be ready always to defend against attacks, either from within or without, the political freedom, the measure of freed which we already have.”

 “It will be hard. It will mean a constant effort from all of us. Build a world in which meanness and poverty, tyranny and hate, have no existence.”

– Sir John Gorton, Mystic Park Hall, April 3rd 1946.

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We dare not fail ourselves. We dare not see the chance to improve our world wasted.

Every single one of you reading this has the power to affect change. In fact, many of you have already demonstrated, in your unique ways, the power to lead massive change.

I implore you to step up, to break free from your daily busyness. Accept my challenge to make a commitment within 24 hours of reading this and join me on this quest.

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This post was initially shared through the EXOscalr Be Fierce newsletter. You can subscribe at: http://eepurl.com/bxGzD1

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Formulating a Quick Digital Transformation Ratio Test

The quick ratio measures the ability of a company to pay its current liabilities when they become due only from quick assets, which for the purposes of this liquidity test are defined as assets that can quickly be converted into cash within 90 days. [Hey, I do remember something from time as a trainee accountant in 1983!]

In today’s climate of almost pervasive digital transformation initiatives I questioned in a recent post whether such activities were working. Could they be measured yet?

The argument against is that innovation and change takes time to percolate. Perhaps, but that is a cop out. There is the equivalent of the quick ratio that can be used to test if a transformation activity is on track. A digital transformation can have many moving parts, and depending on the size and scope of such an undertaking it can be difficult to pin down exactly what is its end game.

This is where the quick ratio comes in. Can you quickly, within the first 90 days of its commencement, poll senior executives in a company and come up with a common view, lingua franca and cohesive support front for a digital transformation initiative? If not, then the initial dissidence and inertial dampeners that emerge as a result of not singing from the same transformation hymn sheet will grow exponentially  during the course of the ensuing months. The resultant friction may well prevent such an initiative from achieving its desired result.

One of the sharpest analysts I’ve had the pleasure to work with, Gartner’s Mary Mesaglio, has posited a step by step Quick and Dirty Transformation Test for Executives.

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EXOscalr Announces Support For Early Stage Entrepreneurs

At EXOscalr we want to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and are offering a limited number of slots for early stage entrepreneurs to work with us.

As part of our support, we will significantly reduce our rates for one on one coaching with entrepreneurs and will also work with peer groups made up of a maximum of 3 synergistic entrepreneurs.

To qualify your current business must be pre-Series A funding. You could be anywhere on the spectrum between exiting your current role to do a start up through to being close to raising your Series A venture capital round. Our logic is that Series A is enough of an inflection point for us to have a full business conversation that doesn’t necessarily require EXOscalr subsidising you by reducing our fees.

EXOscalr is a strategy, growth and wisdom coaching company. We help CEOs and their teams deal with the internal entrepreneurship rollercoaster, supporting the growth they need to exponentially improve their performance and their life.

Ping rand@exoscalr.com to find out more about the opportunity to work with us.

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Digital Transformation and Innovation: Is It Working?

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When I was at Gartner my colleagues and I advised many companies to focus on innovation and digital transformation as a core mechanism for achieving growth. It is fantastic to see so many companies in so many industry sectors seizing on this.

So why are business leaders still up at night?

What is your number one fear?

“Will it work?”

How do you know that all this change, this innovation and digital transformation activity, will deliver on your greatest business need  – growth. Without this change and growth, you fear your company will be in grave jeopardy.

Overcoming the Fear Panoply by Crossing the Threshold

This overarching fear keeping you up at night is an existential one, the fear of becoming obsolete.

One moment you are.

The next you are gone.

Perhaps remembered for doing some great things, but more likely forgotten as quickly as a shoreline sandcastle washed away on a relentless tide.

Perhaps an even worse fate awaits, that of being remembered for not having reacted to an obvious, changing situation. Forever known as the company that got blindsided before it could change.

This is the fear that is being exploited to drive you to take up the change mantle.

“Innovate or die”

Given that your company does not operate in isolation your fear of becoming obsolete is exacerbated by two competitively-driven, change-related fears. The overarching one is the fear of not growing. This is a foundational fear. Growth is seen as the marker for continued relevance, for being able to stave off obsolescence.

This logic drives the second of these fears, that of missing out. This fear is predicated upon the thinking that if your company continuously misses out on opportunities for growth it will accelerate the early onset of obsolescence.

The fear of not growing and of missing out have become key drivers for companies initiating digital transformation and innovation programs. But to do so they require sufficient change impetus in order to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

No company wants to waste its valuable resources or suffer the loss of face that results from failure. Failure, particularly continued or massive failure, can also lead to obsolescence.

The tension between tackling change and the fear of making mistakes has been reduced somewhat by the startup-inspired hypothesis that failure is not in and of itself so bad as it provides fuel for learning.

Be that as it may, in order for your company to successfully undertake digital transformation and innovation it must sufficiently cross the obsolescence threshold.

This threshold is crossed when your company’s fear of becoming obsolete is driven more by the fear of not growing and missing out than the opposing fear of making mistakes.

This is an important distinction as the nature of your company’s digital transformation and innovation initiatives is predicated on the velocity at which your organization crosses the obsolescence threshold.

Ultimately, the success of such initiatives will be determined by what type of digital transformation and innovation your company undertakes. Depending on the groundswell of industry change within which your company is encapsulated, these initiatives need to have more or less impetus to succeed.

Too little activity that matures too slowly produces lacklustre results. This is a level one transformation failure.

Too much activity that matures too fast leads to burn out. This is a level two transformation failure.

Both levels of failure can be fatal for your company and it is crucial to find the right transformation cadence.

Currently there is sufficient impetus in the fear of becoming obsolete and enough of a herd mentality in most industry sectors for many companies to be initiating a digital transformation and innovation program.

And this leads to the pivotal question. How do they know these programs will work?

Is there a commodifying effect at work? If everyone is innovating and has a lab in Silicon Valley what does this mean? Does it reduce the effect of such activities to a common baseline? Do you then need to be even more disruptive or more of a digital business? What do you change, what should stay the same?

Are there warning signals such a program is working or not working? What are the leading and lagging indicators? How can you spot these and course correct before it is too late?

How can we help?

The EXOscalr team brings 30 years of digital transformation and innovation wisdom to give you peace of mind.

We ruthlessly analyse your capabilities, we benchmark your activities against our success modelling and we give you discrete, honest advice on what is working and what isn’t.

We then double down and guide you to be fiercer with yourself, your people and in your activities so that you can eradicate this panoply of fears.