Overwhelmed, underwhelmed at the Web Summit, Lisbon

I am taking the opportunity to review the Web Summit, held in Lisbon last week of 5th (evening) to 8th November 2018. The Web Summit, originally Dublin Web Summit, is a technology conference held annually since 2009. The company was founded by Paddy Cosgrave, David Kelly, and Daire Hickey. The topic of the conference is centered on internet technology and I went looking for multiple innovation angles and left actually disappointed.

I do have to admit I did head to the Web Summit a little biased. Everything “smacked” of commercialization on a big scale. I never really got past this judgment. I had been invited so should I be so cynical or ungrateful, perhaps not but it is hard not to get past this “sheer” commercialization and randomness. I’ll explain randomness later.

When you are told “Forbes has said we run “the best technology conference on the planet”;  or The Atlantic that Web Summit is “where the future goes to be born”;  The New York Times that we assemble “a grand conclave of the tech industry’s high priests.”

These overhyped claims roll on “Bloomberg calls it “Davos for geeks”, Politico “the Olympics of tech”, and the Guardian “Glastonbury for geeks”. My eyes are rolling on these. Overhype is an understatement.

The publicity blurb adds “At a time of great uncertainty for industry upon industry and the world itself, we gather the founders and CEOs of technology companies, fast-growing startups, policymakers and heads of state to ask a simple question: where to next?”

This year over 70,000 people were heading to Lisbon for this Web Summit. Continue reading

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Why Are We Making Innovation So Complex?

It always amazes me how we limit growth by not investing fully in innovation. While most large companies want to become more agile and innovative, many of them fail to turn this wish into a reality.

There is this consistent need or pressure to grow, yet that specific needle stays stubbornly stuck in low growth numbers, even with all this innovation talk and desire. Why is that? We know you simply grow a business by choosing a mix of investing in innovation, merger, and acquisitions or releasing your resources into more profitable activities. Innovation as a dedicated activity still sits uncomfortably within many organizations.

To try and catalyze growth, companies undergo perennial reorganizations, often to revitalize themselves. According to a Deloitte report, 50 percent of companies are undergoing an organizational transformation, yet only 11 percent think they will succeed. What’s worse, 70 percent of transformation programs do fail. In these failures, we only seem to continue to layer on complexity as a further stop-gap measure.

It is no wonder we’re growing increasingly pessimistic about making a positive change to a different transforming model within organizations. Without innovation taking a more leading transforming role, most of our established companies will continue to struggle to break out of their existing approach to business. Far too many are mired in a past business mindset. Continue reading

How do we measure success in our digital transformation? A journey of discovery

How do we find answers to knowing what measures give us for success in any digital transformation? Are today’s measures relevant to tomorrow, are they still based on our legacy system of measurement, when a business was operating in a stable, predictable environment?

Today, I think we certainly have a beginning point but all of us lack a clarity of the end point of where digital transformation will take us. Why, well I think this nicely puts it, we have to move or be moved. Nicely put Mirko

Yes, we can measure success in our progress but these are in both multiple and equally personal ways.

Each organization is unique. Never has this become crystal clear that when you face your own transformation journey. You can learn from others, you can adapt but you need to clearly understand where you are in your own evolution and capacity to undertake change as it is simply your journey. This has not been as well recognized as it is today when we attempt to make any transition, from the old ways of doing business to the new one; that is highly connected, collaborative and based on our growing reliance on technology and ‘everything’ digital. It can become life-changing. Continue reading

The enemy is already within. The flood gates are open. Can GE recover?

Managing cash, balancing this out with your liabilities and obligations, knowing your market dynamics, and equally, having a good understanding of where the future growth lies, are all essential for managing any healthy business.

It is then by utilizing robust research and development projects, combined with an acquisition strategy that augments growth, management creates sustainable and evolving business model.

These are the hallmarks of effective leadership. through managing your future development, mostly through research and development, that when combined with a sound acquisition strategy, that you believe will augment your present internal growth, so as to look to sustain the business, longer-term, becomes your contribution as a leader.  These are the bedrock of good corporate management. It seems within GE, all of these have been forgotten or collapsed. Why, I mean how can that have happened?

For a company reputed to have a good management discipline and focus, yet this year, 2017, for GE, it seems all of these are lying in tatters, or some parts will lose out as a consequence, into the future. What has gone wrong at GE?

The last few months have been some of the most shocking ones in GE’s history. GE has been around since 1892 and was one of the corporate titans of the 20th Century. Since the crisis of 2008, GE has been struggling to fully regain its position but all its actions were regarded very highly as “making good progress” as it maintained a relentless momentum of shedding and acquiring operations, as well as pursuing a buying back of its shares, and paying out the beloved GE dividend. This certainly provided a highly dynamic environment for managing the business. There has been a consistent muttering that this was not fast enough or clear enough. Well, GE faces a very different set of realities today.

Today, GE is in a very dark place at this moment. It is managing a full-blown set of crisis, that has investors highly spooked and demanding answers. Its share price is hovering around $17 per share, whereas, in February of this year, it was ranging in the $31- 32 price. Its market valuation, once over $400bn, is now closer to $150bn.

This is a long read, as the story itself is only just emerging and is a complex one. I simply have to step outside my own innovation comfort box to try to get to grips with the breaking GE story. It has shaken me.  I assume you already have some awareness of what is happening in a company that has been held up over so many years, as a model of good management. Continue reading

Swimming along a road in a flood of digital transformation

swimming-along-the-transformational-roadI am so caught up in transformation, no, actually I am swimming in it. No gentle backstroke for me lapping in the digital transformations that are being written about, this is a hard swim, one I’m not sure I can stay afloat and make headway, yet I must, well actually we all must. We all need to learn to swim along this new digital transformation road.

Recently I was asked to complete a review of digital transformation, to gauge where it presently is, to take a look at the leading emerging practices and ‘professional ‘wisdom’ and turn these insights into a report due out before the end of the year.

There are many innovation implications in this digital transformational journey that hold my increasing attention. For most of this last twelve months I have been increasingly tracking, researching and responding to supporting clients need  about digital transformation, so I was happy to take this on. Little did I realize how this digital transformation has become a flood, a torrent of wisdom, many offerings different, often varying views and advice. Continue reading

Digital transformation – the need to transform our innovation approaches

Digital TransformationBusiness digital transformation, it can certainly get your pulse racing as you start looking for the nearest exit. Digital transformation is being asked of everybody to get involved in but do we have a sufficient understanding of it?

Add in the magic ‘need’ so innovation can benefit from this business digital transformation and we begin to shift around in our chairs even more. What would it mean if we ‘went’ digital and transformed ourselves for innovation within our organisation?

I’ll be honest here, all the answers can’t be distilled here in this one post as digital is all evolving but I thought an opening set of thoughts on ‘digital transformation’ might trigger greater discussion and identification.

So what is a digital transformation?

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So Welcome to the Age of Digital Innovation

New age of innovationDigital technology is about to become the precursor for all the changes we have put off for years within our organizations.

We need to radically improve our abilities to engage, relate and discover new innovation opportunities at a completely different level of faster performance.

There are many issues both strategic and tactical to work through, to extract the rich potential from any digital transformation for new innovation growth outcomes

The final part of a seven part series –  a new dawn or your worst nightmare?’

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