Anat Lechner, PHD, Stern School of Business, New York University. Part 1 of 4: The Agile Organisation and the Future of Work

Business Chicks’ New York Study Tour

Our time with Anat Lechner was largely focused on the future reality of doing business and the challenges and opportunities for businesses and their teams if they are brave enough to address it head on. 

The four global forces that are breaking all the trends;

– The age of urbanisation
– Accelerating technological change 
– Challenges of an aging world
– Greater global connections 

McKinsey Global Institute

Without pulling any punches, but with a great degree of smarts and wit; Anat delivered more than a couple of home truths on day one of the NYC Knowledge and Study Tour.

So, what was the future truth in the eyes of Anat? And, what does it mean for the rest of us who want to design a future, both in terms of a business and a career, that has relevance and can stand up to disruption and uncertainty?

Key insights and takeaways
  • Curiosity is key in designing a business to hold future value.
  • Uncertainty is a given in business and career.
  • The old world order is antiquated.
  • We need to be bold in how we take our talents and expertise to the world.
  • In business we must be making a conscious commitment to creating white space in which ourselves and our employees can explore the future – even if we may not like the answers uncovered during this process.
  • AI will play a large role in the future. It’s imperative you are able to translate the information and data which will dictate how you evolve and innovate, this will be an essential skill for our teams.
  • Increased and mass personalisation will need to be an essential consideration for business into the future. (note: we all agreed on the day that big is not always better; please proceed with caution if you are working with people and not making sausages!)

Increased precision and improved choice must be key considerations for any business that is serious about redesigning how it interacts with its clients and community.

While data and information drives AI and ultimately digitises our businesses, a key question remains “what is the right level of technology we need to include in our future design?”

Leaders and key decision-makers that shape how business is delivered must be asking themselves these questions;

  1. Which parts of the end to end client experience needs to be digitalised without bringing about an adverse effect?
  2. What is the right amount of digitalisation for your brand and, more importantly, your clients and team? 
  3. What would ‘great’ look like into the future, and how will you know if you have moved in the right direction?
  4. What does future personalisation look like for your client and what are the back end operational considerations?
  5. How will you fulfil the skills and talents within your team, and do you need to change how you employ and engage talent?

Timing will be a great determinate in terms of a business’s ability to respond to change and uncertainty but so will other factors such as:

  1. How many innovators already exist within my sector?
  2. Have I measured consumer readiness to embrace your new learnings and offerings?
  3. What is the amount of money available to invest in what you are offering?
  4. What are the existing levels of technology?

These four factors are a four force convergence in re-shaping all industries.  

Success will also ultimately be determined by mindset, perception and a willingness for business and its people to DISRUPT ITSELF.

This means even if things are good, or great, just because what we are doing now is meeting expectations does not mean it will in the future. In fact, it is a given that it will not; more on this later. 

We must be bold and brave enough to reflect on our current success and pull apart even the ideas that have been beneficial up until this point. Success protects ideas, as Luke Williams indicated on day two at New York University. Make a conscious commitment to ask “What if?”.

The six D’S of disruption 
  1. Digitisation
  2. Deception – growth is stealth, and you won’t’ see it coming
  3. Disruption
  4. Dematerialise 
  5. Demonetisation
  6. Democratisation

A vital question before planning the process of digitisation is to ask “How can digital add value to the client relationship?” including your team in terms of wellbeing and performance.

Continue to Part 2