It’s the slopes that you need to focus on

As every person who has trekked, run, cycled, climbed, or journeyed through foothills, ridges, and mountain ranges, it is the slopes that really test your training, planning, and resilience, plus also may mean you have to change course. This is the same in business transformation, so provides a good analogy for the 5–7 year for organisations of all size.

Some thoughts on the models used within organisations for future planning, strategic transformation and the challenges for incumbents to set a path into a future, which embraces experimentation, continuous improvement and builds ‘muscle’ to be adaptable, resilient and able to respond quickly to disruption.

The 3 horizon model, which came from the book “The Alchemy of Growth” by Stephen Coley, Mehrdad Baghai, David White, and was focused on how to develop new revenue over time, is still the basis for the future planning model across a large number of organisations, but this model does not help on the ‘how to play’ and it is skewed to the ‘where to play’ for the current organisation, within the current business models.

Also, 2 of the 3 horizons are primarily focused on ‘incremental’ innovation or ‘sweat the assets’ of the current products, experiences, processes and technologies.

Thinking on the challenges that organisations encounter whilst transforming into their #futureready state, this model, on it’s own, does not help to set a path for the whole business or build an operating model which has adaptability, fluidity and agility at it’s core, it is very linear, less circular.

Nature provides a number of metaphors for business transformation, but using the horizon has always thought to me to be constraining, as it focuses on the ‘end’ of the journey really, and not the pathway for this journey and the stages all this path, plus the goals, challenges and operating models to travel towards these ‘horizons’.

Using nature as the basis, I think maybe a better way to approach this is by looking at the steps between each strategic goal. This means that organisations need to think holistically about the stages on the journey from now, through next, to their future.

So, what about using the topography of the land as areas of strategic focus for transformation and also to focus on areas of growth (customer or revenue) and also introducing a link between the ways of working, experimentation, new business models and ‘incremental’ and ‘disruptive’ innovation,

Also, when trekking, riding or running from A to B, it is not the activity as a whole that gets you. It is the lack of warm up, the lack of planning, the lack of tracking activity and responding to it and ultimately the slopes that get you, not the peaks or plateaus.

Jeremy Zero:

So, perhaps a way to reimagine the horizons, is to look at it as:

Foothills: The journey from now to next, which builds the organisational muscle, new operating models, capability and architectural maps, metrics that matter for the journey ahead and the journeys themselves (customer & employee) which are to be taken along multiple paths are developed, trained and committed to. This is where the Peak goals and the 3 stage outcomes (evolution, reimagination and seeds for the future) are also outlined and set the business alignment for the next 5-7 years

Ridges: These are the slopes where the muscles developed in the foothills get tested and also there may be a need to change course or add a new approach (business model, risk profile or operating model) to scale a rock face challenge, but these all need to be connected to the other pathways and peak outcomes. This is where the ‘how’ is scaled and the ability to adapt to change, disruption, set-backs and ‘explosions’ is developed and trained. Also, there may be a need to take a new path, so where ‘breakthrough’ innovation approaches and new business models, operating models are tested.

Ranges: the multiple peaks which make up the platform business set up for the future. From the peaks it is possible to see the next foothills, so therefore the organisation will have a new series of behaviours, operating paces and also an understanding of how to release exponential value from the organisation as a whole, whilst continuously improving based on insight, signals of the future (spotting anomalies and being to react to them) plus also able to repeat the journey from foothills to ranges over and over again.

Sounds idealistic, I agree, but there are a number of large organisations all over the world, in multiple sectors, who have been able to navigate the foothills to train the whole organisation on how to travel the path through the ridges and ranges to a future where they have adaptability, agility and have seen exponential growth in revenue, lowering of business risk due to an ability to change pace on slopes (up or down) and also become truly customer-centric and data-led by sticking to the course of the journey into the mountains of the future.

Just my thoughts …but getting to a position where is it not the slopes that get you, is surely to everyones benefit.

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