Disruption: competing against status quo

Customer journey, experience, AI, digital transformation, omnichannel, virtual reality. Any random terms I encountered this morning during a round of browsing various marketing blogs. You will know them: the buzz words that you hear daily. And if I visit a seminar or presentation, citing the buzz dictionary cheerfully continues: disruption, VR, deep-learning and real-time personalisation: always promising that everything will be seamlessly matched to me as a consumer.

Inspiring at the time, but with the impact of the snack that leaves you with an empty and unsatisfied feeling. Certainly, when you are busy day-to-day with changing programmes, renewing, bringing disciplines together and better aligning products & services to the consumers. Just competing day in and day out against the established order today and there’s no good buzz word for that!

For those who wait, everything comes too late

Disruption. It is represented as a large ‘big bang’. However, the opposite is true in most established organisations. Change is created thanks to self-willed individuals. Thanks to precursors who do not think and work in silos, but who have to go along, above, below, around or if necessary through it. Digitisation, technology and data accelerate our innovation power. It leads to new insights that help companies get to know the consumer better and offer him or her better, more relevant and more valuable products or services. Unfortunately, I also often hear that the lack of proper tooling is used as an excuse not to start renewing yet. We have heard this lot: “Yes, we do want this, but we cannot because tool x, y, or z is missing.” Or: “We do not yet have a uniform customer image.” But as Thé Lau sang: “For those who wait, everything comes too late.” It is namely basically also about the change in the mindset of people. Then you have that tooling and that uniform customer image. But how do you implement it successfully or start cooperating differently?

My advice: do not wait, but start and learn immediately. Create a team of people who dare to think differently (out of the box) and share knowledge. If necessary, build expertise with a flexible pool of people outside of your own organisation, launch a multidisciplinary team. Work from a clear goal and do everything as possible to achieve this. ‘No’ is not an option, we are going for ‘yes’. In this way, a team learns where organisational bottlenecks are and people become familiar with a different way of working. Create, try, stumble, get up and continue.

Go to work rigorously

This approach demands courage from the Board and management. It means making precise choices, sometimes delegating and sometimes actually sharing knowledge and skills. Stronger: Professionals are now a close team with a clear goal and an own mandate. Give the team members free time for this. It’s not a ‘fun project next to a regular job’. No: The innovation process is the job. Companies that really want disruption will give the predecessors the opportunity to initiate changes.

How? Nine tips and preconditions:

  1. Choose a clear goal – a real ‘challenge’ – that really adds value.
  2. Create a team of flexible driven changers within your existing organisation and supplement them with external expertise if necessary.
  3. Work in clear steps towards the final goal and ensure that each final product adds value.
  4. Support and build results with facts and figures: data driven and fact based. Share results on a very regular basis with the rest of the company.
  5. Give teams and professionals the freedom to operate: a negative outcome is also fine. Accept that.
  6. The goal is sacred: ‘no’ is not an option, we always go for a ‘yes’.
  7. Learn and keep speed in the process. Focus on solutions and not on obstacles.
  8. Due to a clear, shared goal and the ‘well-behaved’ pioneer mentality, differences within departments or a customer and supplier relationship disappear. The final goal is paramount and as a result of this, a strong team is created.
  9. Celebrate successes and milestones. Success works like a magnet, so more colleagues will want be part of the renewal.

Not a follower, but precursor from the heart

Experience proves that it is possible. See, for example, the development of KPN Compleet. KPN saw its number of customers increase with a combination of fixed and mobile subscriptions in a saturated market. KPN Compleet is just one example of how we, as an agency, can create not only valuable products and services for our customers, but in cooperation with them. I could of course have told you a polished story of buzz words here, but I prefer the real experience from the precursors and the changers who obtain fantastic small victories under the radar. Do not be a follower but a precursor. Make a start and do not hide, work differently with existing technology. Go for the best possible and create real value with your colleagues and customers. That is what consumers want. Isn’t that the reason for the existing of our (marketing) existence?

More information?

This blog was previously published on Marketing Online, Marketing Tribune and Dutch Cowboys.

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