Studying the impact of innovation on business and society

The Brave New World of Digital, Business, and Leadership Transformation and the Part You Play in It All

I was moved by an inspiring piece about finding hope in a time of disruption and uncertainty. It was written by my friend Andrew Penn, CEO of Telstra. Though it was published this time last year, I found it relevant now.

Penn observed that in these times of a great reset, it’s only human to lose hope. It’s true seemingly everywhere. Just looking at Twitter right now, it feels like the special place I once described as a human seismograph has devolved into a digital octagon, a free-for-all where people fight for their truth, ignore logic and empathy, with too many obfuscating the only definitions of truth and reality. It’s a stark and real-time reminder of just how easy it is to lose hope.

Whether it’s a pandemic, politics, news, world events, social media, we are surrounded by, no, pummeled by, division, fear, self-righteousness, hate, and outrage, and added-up, it’s all taking its toll on our optimism, imagination, creativity, and most importantly, our individual and collective potential.

This anxiety, uncertainty, and even frustration we feel now is shared all around the globe. But we can’t give up.

Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

Mindset Transformation

As Penn so rightly pointed out, these experiences, for better and worse, will shape us for the rest of our lives. We have to remember that while we can’t control what happens to us, we can control how we respond today, tomorrow, and every day. It is our choice in how these events affect us and how we learn, unlearn, and grow moving forward.

This is a time for a shift in our mindset.

This is a time for new leaders and new leadership. And leaders can come from anywhere and honestly, are needed everywhere.

If you’re waiting for someone to save the day, take a look in the mirror.

This is exactly the time to see through all that’s wrong, to see what’s right, to find opportunities and solve problems, and discover where you can play a role in driving meaningful change.

In your reflection lies hope and possibility and change. A better future can be manifested…by you…and me…and all of us together. We just need to believe we each play a role in leading change, even if it’s not in our title.

Photo by Bekah Russom on Unsplash

Digital Transformation

When it comes to our work, it’s important to remember, to feel, who our customers and employees are and what it is they value. We’re all human, not numbers or algorithms. And most of all, customers and employees carry all the same emotions we do, and maybe those we don’t yet realize.

They too are worried, frustrated, stressed out. They want things to be better. And those sentiments extend directly to the businesses they support and the companies they work for.

In each engagement and throughout their journey, what they feel then and what they feel when they walk away, every moment added-up, defines the customer and employee experience, and ultimately our relationship with them. Those experiences, impressions, and expressions, form our brand.

This is why experience design and innovation, beyond tactical customer experience (CX) or employee experience (EX) strategies, represent a timely opportunity to build stronger, lasting, and fruitful relationships with…people. We get to design these moments to give people reason and affirmation to engage us, to deliver meaningful experiences that they savor, share, and seek again and again.

In a world of lingering chaos, angst, and doubt, be the light, someone has to…

Photo by Nathan Jennings on Unsplash

Customers and employees need to know that we understand not only their goals and desired outcomes, but also who they are, their history, and aspirations They want to be known. They want to be valued. They want to be remembered.

Any chance to add reprieve in their day, bring a smile to your customer’s or employee’s face, or make someone feel special or help someone do something great, in any given moment, matters a lot these days.

Perhaps this is anti-climactic, but this is the moment where I bring up digital transformation. But that’s where leadership and possibility come together to do something different moving forward. This isn’t as much about digitization or the renovation of legacy processes and models. Iteration and continuous improvement is just that, it’s constant. This time is truly about revolution and innovation…that’s what transformation is all about after all. To transform is to change our future. Start by changing your organization’s mindset as my friend Simon Mulcahy says.

Digital transformation isn’t just about digital, it’s about people and how we use technology to understand them, bring them together, to enhance experiences, and cultivate relationships. That’s what makes it is so special. Digital transformation is about using innovative tech, like AI, mobile, real-time and predictive analytics, automation, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, decentralization, robotics, metaverse/3D, and more, to be …human. With intent and purpose, we can use technology to be more empathetic, to be more integrated, intuitive, and useful in the products, services, and experiences we offer customers and employees.

And we are the ones responsible for inventing those new experiences, new products and new services, for creating new value, new channels and new ways of communicating with our customers and employees. That’s the real power of digital transformation. That’s the real opportunity facing you as tomorrow’s leaders, right now.

Photo by note thanun on Unsplash

We can upgrade our ideas and plans around digital transformation to reimagine our organizations for an entirely different world, because that’s what it is. 2020 created a significant fissure in our trajectory. Some will batten down the hatches, minimize risk, and cut their way forward. Others will seize this moment and the shift in our trajectory to invent, innovate, and transform. The good news is that history is on the side of the latter.

It isn’t just digital transformation, either. The time is now for operational transformation, mindset transformation, and leadership transformation. It’s a complete CTRL-ALT-DEL moment for ourselves and our companies.

We must bring together disparate operational and data silos to work toward the greater outcome of better serving our customers by better engaging employees. This is our moment to deliver enchantment over conversions, optimization and modernization over digitization, balance and wellness and morale over productivity and output, and empathy and personalization and relationships over transactions.

We really can change how we work. We can nurture more gainful and useful behaviors. We can use technology to be better, do good, and make our dent in the universe.

if you think about it, that’s exactly what we haven’t done for the past 50-to-60 years. It could be argued that companies used technology to get further away from customers, not closer, to automate, scale, gain efficiencies, increase margins, go faster, and the list goes on. But now, the opposite can also be true and possible, for those who care, to use technology to do all of the things that matter for business success while investing in employee and customer connections.

Put people and relationships at the center of all we do. Technology makes it possible.

Shift customer experience and employee experience to the “customer’s” and the “employee’s” experience. That’s where our purpose and our potential will matter most. Adding that apostrophe changes the whole game. It forces us to see the world through their eyes, to feel it the way that they would feel it. Remember, every touch in each touch point, shapes their experience, so let’s make it the most personal and meaningful experience possible. Give technology a true sense of purpose beyond functionality, automation, and productivity.

These are novel times creating a Novel Economy.

There’s always going to be something new.

We will continue to evolve.

There is always disruption on the horizon.

If we keep people at the center of all of this, we’re in the right place. We’re centered. We’re connected.

Change How You See the World

Photo by Katrina Wright on Unsplash

Tune out what’s wrong in this world and see it for its possibilities. You aren’t alone in this effort. I’m here. My entire network of close colleagues and friends are here with you, too.

There’s a silver lining in all of this.

We get to change things moving forward if we really want to.

This is exactly the time to see through all that’s wrong in the world, to see what’s possible and better for everyone, where there is opportunity, and where you can play a role in leading transformation.


This isn’t just a moment to get to the next normal, it’s a moment to further build out our new trajectory and bring to life the ideas and wishes we’ve always hoped were possible.

The future isn’t what it used to be, it’s just not. And I think that’s the silver lining for all of us. We now have a say in what happens next. Take it.

You are the architect of a future that didn’t exist before a few years ago. I believe you can lead the way. I believe others will follow because they believe in your vision for a better future. Honestly, I’m excited to see what you do next.

Thank you.

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