I recently presented at event in San Diego. My goal in doing so was to help attendees reframe the problems they were trying to solve and introduce new opportunities that would help them go back to work and contribute to meaningful change.
I remember it being a beautiful day. The crowd was electric and more than open to new ideas. When I was done presenting, I playfully threw out that I would be outside on the patio (overlooking the San Diego Harbor) if anyone had any questions. To my surprise, there was a group of 25-30 or so people who followed. We continued the conversation outside and everyone seemed engaged with many staying until the last question.
Hannah Kovacs with Postbeyond was in attendance. After the event, she asked if we could talk about digital transformation, my latest research and the importance of the human element in change. My answer was, “of course!” It was a line in her bio that also added that extra layer of convincing, “obsessed with critical thinking and challenging the status quo.”
I wanted to share the interview the result of the interview with you here…I hope it helps you.
Hannah Kovacs: Why is it necessary for enterprises to design their customer experience? How has this changed in the last 10 years?
There’s this idea that companies need to change because the times are changing.
But then there are those innovative companies who want to be be more beloved by a new generation of customers. Understanding what it takes to be successful in that regard means that you need to understand how people (your customers) are different than you previously thought. But also, it’s taking those insights and applying them to the infrastructure of your organization so that you can work differently and compete differently.
When you invest in technology and expertise for reasons other than being competitive, it shifts the perception and definition of success. This shift in perspective shifts even to what it means to “work.” It gives way for a new culture that’s entirely human-centered. And yet, there are so many companies who fail to see that opportunity.
HK: On that note, what would you identify as the biggest obstacle to enterprises who maybe want to go through a digital transformation, but are getting stuck?
One of the biggest obstacles is the sheer operational structure of organizations. They’re built on management infrastructures, which by nature are designed to support and reinforce existing paradigms. Within those management structures, you have a very human system of governance, which includes politics, ego. These qualities define the company (which usually tends to be risk-averse). Everything that you reward, everything that you refuse to accept – that’s the culture.
But there are individuals throughout the company who truly believe that there has to be a better way to operate. They have an innovative spirit, and they want to spread their ideas. The biggest question is whether they can push through the existing management structure before they leave the company. This is why I like to emphasize the difference between leadership and management. When we look at employee engagement (or lack thereof) and what separates an innovative organization versus an organization that exists purely to compete, it comes down to the culture around progressivity and experimentation.
HK: One of my favourite quotes was: “We get so caught up in the game that we forget the bigger story we’re trying to tell, the more meaningful side of things” – would you care to elaborate on this?
Well whether it’s marketing, customer experience, employee engagement, or getting executive support, what it all comes down to is this: whether we know who we’re talking to, and whether we know what’s important to them.
We need to meet somewhere in the middle of what we’re saying and what people want to hear.
“This is just how we do things” is engrained in metrics and processes.