Fast Tempos and Digital Transformation

What matters most is the tempo of change.” ~ John Boyd

Few businesses would argue that data collection and analytics are not important to their current and future success.  Data can provide situational awareness, enhanced customer service, and more personalized user experiences.  It also supports vigilance and the ability to recognize both problems and opportunities early.  The problem, however, is not many enterprises can act on data fast enough to matter.

In most companies, organizational structures, decision-making processes, business models and business cultures aren’t nimble enough to change at a tempo fast enough to capture competitive opportunities and respond to challenges.  In today’s world of digital transformation and fast changing mobile and online consumer behaviors (see Cutting Through Chaos in the Age of Mobile Me), businesses must be as nimble as their customers, or they risk losing market share to a nimbler competitor.

The First Law of Thermodynamics states, "energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed.”  In a business context that means if energy is being used to resist change, then it is not available for making change.  Change is difficult.  The default mode for most organizations and people is to resist change.  In order to overcome this resistance, a new reality must be created. This reality consists of:

  • Leadership that supports innovation and agility
  • Code Halo, data driven business strategies and tactics
  • Organizational structures that support innovation and agility
  • Compensation structures that support innovation and creativity
  • Business models that support innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship
  • Defined processes for incubating and maturing new ideas 
  • Intimate relationships with customers and their changing needs
  • Culture that rewards data driven decision-making
  • IT platforms, systems and environments that support business agility and innovation

Companies need to transform in order to minimize resistance and reward behaviors and environments that support a fast tempo of change.  Companies that can support a fast tempo of change have a big competitive advantage, while those that can’t risk obsolescence.

The military strategist John Boyd found some fighter planes with poorer performance numbers on paper were actually better in competition because they could transition at a faster tempo.  The ability to change directions quickly trumped speed and performance.  There are lessons there for businesses.

Follow me on Twitter @krbenedict.