What it takes to be a 21st Century Organization

Leading Edge Forum research has brought us to the understanding that while many digital trends and technologies are exciting, there is a deeper, underlying need to re-imagine our businesses and government agencies to make them viable; to make them evolve and thrive; to make them win in the 21st century.

We have summarized what is required to become a 21st century organization in 6 macro capabilities.

1

Proactive haptic, Sensing

How adept are you at sensing and listening?

We need proactive, haptic sensing to survive and thrive in the future. The vast majority of 20th Century Organizations see their businesses primarily as value creation machines, generating value for customers/citizens, and retaining some of that value for profit/reinvestment.

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2

inspiring digital Identity and strategy

Do you have a compelling vision to champion?

We need an inspiring digital identity and strategy to retain focus and excite stakeholders. Logically following on from sensing, the next macro capability is the ability to make sense of everything you know inside and out, and create a compelling identity that shows the role your business will play in an increasingly digital world – where you will play, how you will win and what capabilities you need to support that strategic posture.

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3

Outside-in approach to Assets and capabilities

Are you focusing on the right assets and capabilities?

We need an outside-in approach to assets and capabilities to exploit the ‘Matrix’. Third in the logical sequence, comes considering the assets and capabilities that will make that identity a reality. The 20th century view concentrated heavily on physical assets (property, machinery, inventory) and financial assets. This is reflected in much current management thinking and evidenced strongly in financial accounting. In the 21st century, many of the most successful companies are light on traditional assets and operate ‘outside-in’, deriving their value instead from their talent, their ecosystem and their architecture.

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4

360 digitally optimized Product and service portfolio

Are you doing more than spreading a ‘digital’ topping?

We need a 360° digitally optimized portfolio of products and services to win in the market. The fourth area of macro capability that is different in a 21st century organization is the approach to products and services. When the term ‘digital’ first surfaced, many asked ‘is this eCommerce?’ or ‘is this digital marketing?’ or maybe ‘is this e-business?’ The short answer is that the digital (r)evolution subsumes all of these and more. In an ideal world, we should completely re-imagine what our business could be in an increasingly digital world.

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5

Adaptive execution

Can you embrace change?

We must build an organization that executes adaptively. The fifth capability necessary for a business to survive and thrive in the 21st century is being adaptive. In recent times terms like agile, adaptive, fluid, flexible, etc. have been thrown around so much that their meaning has become unclear in a business context. We are using the word ‘adaptive’ to mean, literally, an organization that is able to adapt and evolve in response to changing internal and external goals and conditions.

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6

Value-centric leadership in an uncertain world

How critical are values to your leadership?

We must be value-centric leaders in an uncertain world. The last section of the model is about leading – and specifically leading based on value and its close cousin, risk. This might not sound like a very ‘digital’ topic, but its inclusion here is based on the premise that the digital world will create lots more choice and lots more change. If you are not good at choosing based on value and risk, and managing that value throughout the lifecycle to make sure it is achieved, especially under conditions of uncertainty, you are likely to fail as the digital change knob is cranked up to 11!

LEARN MORE

Are you doing more than spreading a ‘digital’ topping?

We need a 360° digitally optimized portfolio of products and services to win in the market. The fourth area of macro capability that is different in a 21st century organization is the approach to products and services. When the term ‘digital’ first surfaced, many asked ‘is this eCommerce?’ or ‘is this digital marketing?’ or maybe ‘is this e-business?’ The short answer is that the digital (r)evolution subsumes all of these and more. In an ideal world, we should completely re-imagine what our business could be in an increasingly digital world.

LEARN MORE

Can you embrace change?

We must build an organization that executes adaptively. The fifth capability necessary for a business to survive and thrive in the 21st century is being adaptive. In recent times terms like agile, adaptive, fluid, flexible, etc. have been thrown around so much that their meaning has become unclear in a business context. We are using the word ‘adaptive’ to mean, literally, an organization that is able to adapt and evolve in response to changing internal and external goals and conditions.

LEARN MORE

How critical are values to your leadership?

We must be value-centric leaders in an uncertain world. The last section of the model is about leading – and specifically leading based on value and its close cousin, risk. This might not sound like a very ‘digital’ topic, but its inclusion here is based on the premise that the digital world will create lots more choice and lots more change. If you are not good at choosing based on value and risk, and managing that value throughout the lifecycle to make sure it is achieved, especially under conditions of uncertainty, you are likely to fail as the digital change knob is cranked up to 11!

LEARN MORE

How adept are you at sensing and listening?

We need proactive, haptic sensing to survive and thrive in the future. The vast majority of 20th Century Organizations see their businesses primarily as value creation machines, generating value for customers/citizens, and retaining some of that value for profit/reinvestment.

LEARN MORE

Do you have a compelling vision to champion?

We need an inspiring digital identity and strategy to retain focus and excite stakeholders. Logically following on from sensing, the next macro capability is the ability to make sense of everything you know inside and out, and create a compelling identity that shows the role your business will play in an increasingly digital world – where you will play, how you will win and what capabilities you need to support that strategic posture.

LEARN MORE

Are you focusing on the right assets and capabilities?

We need an outside-in approach to assets and capabilities to exploit the ‘Matrix’. Third in the logical sequence, comes considering the assets and capabilities that will make that identity a reality. The 20th century view concentrated heavily on physical assets (property, machinery, inventory) and financial assets. This is reflected in much current management thinking and evidenced strongly in financial accounting. In the 21st century, many of the most successful companies are light on traditional assets and operate ‘outside-in’, deriving their value instead from their talent, their ecosystem and their architecture.

LEARN MORE

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