By James Brett and Angus Dorney >>

THE CORPORATE WORLD is littered with buzzwords. From ‘agile omni-channel gamechangers’ to ‘disruptive synergies’. These words might have meant something once, but now they’re just empty syllables – the junk food of enterprise vocabulary.

But there’s one phrase fast approaching buzzword status —and we shouldn’t let it because it’s far too important: customer centricity.

Customer centricity is deceptively simple. It basically means genuinely caring about your customers and their needs. It denotes a belief that nurturing a customer will nurture your business. 

Importantly, it’s about more than just creating flashy experiences that look great but are ultimately shallow. True customer centricity is about providing solutions that solve real problems and improve your customer’s quality of life.  

When done well, it drives the kind of fierce customer loyalty and goodwill that can insulate an organisation from a thousand shocks and drive profits that others envy.

LARGE ENTERPRISES CHALLENGED

Despite its apparent simplicity, customer centricity is particularly difficult to achieve in large enterprises.

In many of these organisations, cultures, processes and legacy technologies designed with a transactional – or even exploitational – view of the customer have dominated.

In these cases, the problem is usually compounded by executive leadership – who drive and maintain the entirely wrong types of corporate culture. 

Consider the fallout from the recent Royal Commissions into Aged Care, Financial Services, and Disability. Many of the organisations delivering mea culpas now, delivered media releases in the past trumpeting their ‘customer-obsession’ and ‘customer-centricity’.  

At its core, customer centricity in an enterprise requires innovation. When your key considerations are shareholders and financial metrics, it’s impossible to innovate. This is because true transformation and customer-centricity are long-term strategies, they are an unwinding of bad habits and a nurturing of good ones.

This is particularly challenging for large organisations where it’s difficult to determine what to fix first and how to do it fast enough to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of the customer and increasing competition. 

BADLY LEADERSHIP INCENTIVISED

So how have these institutions been able to last so long if serving the needs of their customers hasn’t been their core reason for being?

Historically, the reason enterprises have ignored the needs of the customer is because executive leadership has been incentivised to do so.

With their remuneration tied solely to financial metrics and, by extension, short-term financial goals, customer needs have been a distant second to investor returns.

Suncorp is a perfect case of the short-term aims of shareholders trumping the long-term strategy of improving the customer experience.

Former chief Michael Cameron, and Microsoft Australia’s one-time managing director Pip Marlow, wanted to make Suncorp more customer-centric and turn the bank into the ‘Amazon of Financial Services’.

Disgruntled investors killed the plan off when it didn’t immediately generate revenue and now Suncorp will return to its core business of banking and insurance.

DRIVING CUSTOMERS TO DISLOYALTY

We’re currently facing an age of customer disloyalty, and so we should be. What looks like ‘disloyalty’ to a business, is actually the customer searching for products and services that offer them real value.

There is now more choice than ever before and finding the alternatives has never been easier.

Despite this, most incumbents seem to think they’re too big to fail – if their lack of action on serious customer-centric innovation is any indication.

True innovation has to be tied to the needs and desires of the customer. It isn’t easy. Sometimes it involves turning your back on the historical sacred cows of your business – such as when Netflix jettisoned its mail order DVD business to pursue video streaming.  

Simply increasing the efficiency of existing business lines isn’t customer centric. Offshoring thousands of roles to Bangalore or the Philippines isn’t innovation. All it does is squeeze more revenue from an existing offering, so to call it anything other than ‘shareholder centric’ is a sham.

Business leaders need to bring their investors on board and champion an embrace of true customer-centricity – and they need to do it now.

Start-ups are already disrupting previously untouchable industries like financial services and insurance (FSI), telecommunications and energy.

They’re succeeding because, for them, customer-centricity is not just a buzzword.

 

About the authors

James Brett is a leading CTO, digital strategist and author, having led digital transformations for some of Australia's largest and best-known brands. Angus Dorney is co-CEO of digital product engineering firm, Kablamo, a team of Australian specialists who led the digital transformations of Australia's largest media organisations, and are now bringing that expertise to enterprise IT. 

By John Sheridan >>

A FEW DAYS AGO, former Treasury boss Ken Henry said, "Something is desperately wrong" with Australia's economy, which is beset by "structural deficiencies" that cannot be fixed by interest rate cuts or government largesse.

"I fear that it's more than cyclical, that we need to find a way of getting ourselves out of this hole ... when labour productivity is falling, it not only hurts economic growth, but ... fully offsets the increase in workforce participation," Dr Henry said.

Dr Henry argued the main reason productivity was declining was a lack of business investment in new technology and equipment that increased the efficiency of their workforce. 

"Business investment today as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) is almost as low as it was in the depths of the early-90s recession," he said.

"The reason why Australia celebrates a current account surplus today is because business investment is so weak. We should not be celebrating this, this is sending us a signal that there is something desperately wrong in Australia." 

SO WHAT IS PRODUCTIVITY? 

'Productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, system etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs.'

For businesses, productivity growth is important because providing more goods and services to consumers translates to higher profits. As productivity increases, an organisation can turn resources into revenues, paying stakeholders and retaining cash flows for future growth and expansion.

So productivity is important. 

But productivity in different industry sectors offers different opportunities. 

We have productive industries: agriculture, creative industries, defence, education, ICT, manufacturing, medical and health, METS, smart trades and tourism.

New technology, equipment, design, branding and advertising can help create new products and services and open up new markets through export.

WHAT ABOUT SUPPORT INDUSTRIES?

Productive industries are productive. But our support industries don’t offer the same opportunities.

The support industries – public administration, retail, accommodation and food, administrative services, transport, wholesale, personal services, finance, rental and real estate and utilities.

They are there to support productive industry. New technology and equipment can increase efficiency and profit, and help support industries deliver even better support to the wealth generators in the economy – the productive industry sectors. 

We need efficiency in both.

But increasing productivity in our productive industries offers the biggest economic benefit. 

And…

Increasing productivity in productive industries can help in other ways.

It will lead to greater diversification in our economy and steadily diminish our over-reliance on mining, food, education and tourism. 

These sectors are very important and will remain important for a long time. But we can’t afford to have all our eggs in one basket. We need more baskets (markets) and more eggs (products and services).

At the moment, we are too reliant on one basket (China) and two big eggs (mining and education). Diversification diminishes risk.

The support industries are there to support the productive industries.

GROWING THE GROWTH AREAS

But our productive industries need to grow. And that won’t happen on its own.

At the moment mining is the backbone of the Australian economy and has been for years. Mining produces royalties. Mining encourages development of new technology. Mining leads the way in robotics development and artificial intelligence (AI).

But we now need to leverage the intellectual horsepower of CSIRO, Data61 and our 38 research-based universities and apply that creative energy of ideas and experimentation across the whole spectrum of our productive industries.

Not just to support the miners and mining related manufacturers, but to generate new productive industries of our own. OEMs.

For our productive industries are where we can generate opportunity with new products and services, diversify our economy, expand our overseas markets and create a more resilient foundation for Australia’s future. For our kids and grandkids.

We have generated deep knowledge from the mining industry, which can be applied elsewhere – water, pollution control, safety, waste management, space, recycling, robotics, off road vehicle automation, energy, remote control systems, AI and drones.

Much of this knowledge is valuable in countries facing similar issues to us. Especially issues with energy, water, pollution, environment, safety and remote control systems = Export.

And we can apply that same intellectual horsepower to other industries – assistive technology, disability services, aged care, energy, waste management, soil health, aquaculture, housing, preventative medicine, manufacturing, sport and recreation = More Export.

CONNECT KNOWLEDGE TO BUSINESS

But we need to connect our universities to business in a more effective and impactful way.

The lack of synchronisation between business and academia in Australia is criminal. 

Universities are funded, measured and rewarded for teaching and publishing, but not for engagement with industry. The funding model for industry engagement is clumsy and frugal.

Government has made it hard, not easy, for universities to engage. Universities should be rewarded for helping to create a more diversified economy.

Some universities have made a point of engaging with local business anyway. 

And the benefits are obvious. Students gain experience of engaging with real business problems and possible job offers. Business owners gain new insight, perspectives and ideas.

Applied systematically and universally, this approach could turbo charge the whole spectrum of productive industries in Australia. Not just in the capital cities, but in areas surrounding regional universities, and in rural and remote areas through online webinars and conferencing.

We have all the pieces to the big picture. They have just never been assembled in the right order. 

We can create and support a wide spectrum of healthy and resilient productive industries.

Agriculture, creative industries, defence, education, ICT, manufacturing, medical and health, METS, smart trades and tourism.

Connected to CSIRO, Data61, universities, TAFEs and high schools, with a focus on innovation, investment, export, sustainability and the future of work and jobs.

That is the big picture. And the pieces all exist. Today.

So…

John Sheridan is CEO of Digital Business insights, an organisation based in Brisbane, Australia, which focuses on helping businesses and communities adapt to, and flourish in, the new digital world. He is the author of Connecting the Dots and getting more out of the digital revolution. Digital Business insights has been researching and analysing the digital revolution for more than 15 years and has surveyed more than 50,000 businesses, conducting in-depth case study analysis on more than 350 organisations and digital entrepreneurs. Now DBi is turning that research into action through a series of digital business development platforms, the first of which launched in 2016, the Manufacturing Toolbox. DBi has also launched a series of international online trade showcases, promoting Australian goods and services to specific countries and promoting use of those showcases in those countries. TAustralia's Regional Economic Development (RED) Toolbox has now been launched at http://theredtoolbox.org. The latest in the toolbox series is the ED Toolbox, which helps high school students, parents and educators navigate the future of work and jobs.

www.theredtoolbox.org

www.edtoolbox.com.au

http://www.db-insights.com/

ends

 

By John Sheridan >>

TERRY MCCRANN made some interesting comments in The Australian this Saturday about the ineffectiveness of the RBA’s response to the ailing economy. We now live in a different world...

“A world made different by the dynamics of globalisation, the pervasive 24/7 real-time digital economy, robotisation and the unique dynamic of China both removed from and the central influence in the conventional global economy. All disruption aplenty, and not just to business and consumer lives.”

And, “Frankly, central bankers haven’t a clue what to do, other than to keep pushing on their policy strings.”

But the policy strings and interest rate levers aren’t working. And of course they won’t work. Because they are not connected to the real world any more.

The world is very different from the MARTIN model that sits in Martin Place in Sydney. [MARTIN is the Reserve Bank's new full-system macroeconomic model used in policy analysis and forecasting. The RBA began using MARTIN in late 2018].  

Play with interest rates all you want, it will achieve nothing.

And as with all models, 'garbage in garbage out' applies. So, feed in incorrect employment figures and MARTIN has a problem.

Roy Morgan Research suggests that 8.7 percent of Australians were unemployed in August -- not 5.3 percent with an additional 7.1 percent underemployed.

And, about 97 percent of net jobs growth in the past year has been in the public sector. 

Not jobs in productive industries. 

Jobs in productive industries generate profit, exports, new opportunities and more jobs. Jobs in the public sector do none of this.

DIGITAL DISRUPTION DENIAL

The impacts of digital disruption through AI, robotics, BIM, AR, VR, Blockchain, IoT, 3D printing, drones, Facebook, Google, Amazon, airbnb, Uber, 'fake news' and others are wide ranging, multi-dimensional and not easy to factor into MARTIN either. 

We can’t afford to be passive in our response to this latest challenge. It is not enough to sit in Martin Place, feeding garbage into MARTIN and pulling strings and levers.

Trump and Johnson sneeze and we catch a cold. China sneezes and we are in the mortuary.

We have to take control of our own destiny. And diversify our industries and export markets.

That requires building on our existing productive industry sectors and applying all the 'smarts' and 'innovations' that sit in CSIRO, Data61 and the 38 research based universities across the country.

It requires supporting the 7,000 scaleups and startups in our productive industry sectors: agriculture, creative industries, defence, education, ICT, medical and health, manufacturing, METS, smart trades and tourism.

And not creating more and more jobs in the public sector. Not sustainable.

But creating more and more jobs in productive industry sectors.

Stop responding to change.

And make change happen. 

On our terms.

In directions that suit our strengths, that maintain and create jobs for our children and grandchildren, and make Australia the innovative powerhouse that it could and should be.

www.theredtoolbox.org

www.edtoolbox.com.au

John Sheridan is CEO of Digital Business insights, an organisation based in Brisbane, Australia, which focuses on helping businesses and communities adapt to, and flourish in, the new digital world. He is the author of Connecting the Dots and getting more out of the digital revolution. Digital Business insights has been researching and analysing the digital revolution for more than 15 years and has surveyed more than 50,000 businesses, conducting in-depth case study analysis on more than 350 organisations and digital entrepreneurs. Now DBi is turning that research into action through a series of digital business development platforms, the first of which launched in 2016, the Manufacturing Toolbox. DBi has also launched a series of international online trade showcases, promoting Australian goods and services to specific countries and promoting use of those showcases in those countries. TAustralia's Regional Economic Development (RED) Toolbox has now been launched at http://theredtoolbox.org. The latest in the toolbox series is the ED Toolbox, which helps high school students, parents and educators navigate the future of work and jobs.

http://www.db-insights.com/

ends

 

By John Sheridan >>

AUSTRALIA is being impacted on two fronts – by trade threats and by digital disruption. 

Our reliance on selling one product 'minerals' into one market 'China' leaves us highly exposed. Relying too heavily on minerals, food and education as our major exports, leaves us vulnerable to political whims and fancies, trade wars and real wars – none of which are controllable by any Australian government.

And digital disruption has not gone away. The impact of over 20 disruptive technologies on jobs and businesses continues. We have barely yet woken up to the threat, let alone created any real strategies to deal with the impacts.

We have to defend our families, children, grandchildren, businesses and regions against trade threats AND digital disruption.

Which means diversification -- both in the creation of products and services, as well as in expanding our overseas markets. 

Turnbull was right. We need an innovation nation.  

We already have the potential for an innovation nation. We are just not managing the resources we have -- the innovators in our towns, cities and regions, in our schools, universities and TAFEs. In our brains, our eyes and our hands.

Selling dirt to China is not the only tool in the toolbox. 

We have many others. And we have to use them.

For we live in precarious times.

In Australia, it makes strategic sense to significantly increase the number of trade partners we engage with and to diversify production across a much wider range of products and services. We cannot afford to become captive to trading partners with a very different view of 'shared value'. Selling just one big egg from one big basket.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

We need to mitigate risk. Quickly.

According to Roy Morgan Research, unemployment in March 2019 was 10.9 percent, with another 9.7 percent of the workforce underemployed. So 20.6 percent of Australians are now either unemployed or underemployed. Roy Morgan measures real unemployment in Australia, not the perception of unemployment, like the ABS.

Currently, digital disruption and its impacts on jobs is viewed a bit like climate change. The impacts are off somewhere in the future. Which is correct. But that future is closer than you might think.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), 3D printing, Augmented Reality, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Cloud services, BIM, GPS, 5G, Cryptocurrency, Cybersecurity, Drones, Digital Identity, Holochain, IP protection, Mobility, Nanotechnology, Robots, Solar and Battery Storage, Virtual Reality, Amazon, airbnb, Freelancer, Uber etc, not forgetting climate change and “fake news” all present threats to jobs in Australia and across the world, as well as opportunity.

And jobs do not exist in a vacuum.

Employers offer jobs. And employers make people redundant. And big businesses answer to shareholders wanting dividends and profit. And small businesses have to pay wages.

And the current myth that employers won’t replace people with technology, but will retain workers and just reallocate tasks is just a wish and a dream. The reality is that technology comes in the door and people go out.

Even in organisations that have more than enough money to redeploy people if they choose to, such as banks – they don’t. The ANZ has cut 5,250 employees. The National Australia Bank has retrenched 6,000 employees.

The big four banks in Australia are expected to shed up to 40,000 jobs over five years. Some new jobs in technology and analytics will be created, but overall it’s net job loss. Telstra is cutting 8,000 jobs. Optus is cutting 400. And so on.

So even in companies with big profits, people are not being redeployed, they are being unemployed.

This trend will continue.

And in the next 10 to 15 years, another 4.5 million jobs will be threatened as AI and other disruptive technologies really take hold. Which for our children and grandchildren in Australian schools is going to be a big challenge.

So we need to start understanding, managing and pushing back against this threat, before it becomes a promise. 

Youth unemployment is a problem. 'Over 40 years old' unemployment is a problem. Job transition is a problem. 

DEFEND AND ATTACK

We must defend.

We have an abundance of productive industries in Australia. And an abundance of resources. We have the capacity to reframe what we do and where we focus our efforts. We have a world-class innovation engine in CSIRO/Data61 and our universities. 

We must attack.

We can add value to products and services through research, design, branding and marketing. But we have to start with a 'big picture' vision, joining the pieces of the puzzle. Bringing it all together.

The opportunity is there in front of us. (“We are a big country, with a small population but we are ratshit at collaboration.”) Only by collaborating and showcasing what we (Australia) can offer to the world will we be successful.

The tools and solutions are on the table. We just need to pick them up and use them.

And…a lot of people are going to miss out. Even more than before.

Working with partners we must explore new options to address the issue of exclusion. 

Not everyone has the skills or capabilities to benefit from digital disruption. We need to establish a framework of opportunities that recognise individual contributions in different ways. We have to move our thinking beyond 'effort = wage' to Universal Basic Income, Tokenisation. New job creation. Reward meaningful roles and activities. Shared value.

Thinking about solutions to this issue has barely begun. But thinking has begun. It just needs to go further and faster.

There is still a lot more to be done. And we have hardly started. 

The RED Toolbox, the ED Toolbox and the Australian Innovation Showcase are tools to defend and attack trade threats and digital disruption.

Join the platform and let’s see what we can do. Collaboratively.

www.theredtoolbox.org

John Sheridan is CEO of Digital Business insights, an organisation based in Brisbane, Australia, which focuses on helping businesses and communities adapt to, and flourish in, the new digital world. He is the author of Connecting the Dots and getting more out of the digital revolution. Digital Business insights has been researching and analysing the digital revolution for more than 15 years and has surveyed more than 50,000 businesses, conducting in-depth case study analysis on more than 350 organisations and digital entrepreneurs. Now DBi is turning that research into action through a series of digital business development platforms, the first of which launched in 2016, the Manufacturing Toolbox. DBi has now also launched a series of international online trade showcases, promoting Australian goods and services to specific countries and promoting use of those showcases in those countries. The first, just launched, is the Australia-Taiwan Trade Showcase. Coming soon are trade showcases for Japan, Hong Kong-China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and India. Australia's Regional Economic Development (RED) Toolbox has now been launched at http://theredtoolbox.org.

http://www.db-insights.com/

MASTER BUILDERS Australia has launched a campaign to give its members and the building and construction industry a voice at the imminent Federal Election. 

“The Strong Building, Strong Economy campaign will ensure that the issues that matter to our industry are front and centre and that all political parties and candidates know which policies our members support and oppose,” Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn said.

“The campaign calls for the support of Master Builders’ policy ‘wish list’ to back small business, stop the bullying on building sites, boost house building activity and train more apprentices,” she said.

“Our Election Scorecard will inform our members across the country about how the major parties respond. 

“Advertising will be rolled out across the country opposing the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and an increase in capital gains tax and restrictions on negative gearing,” Ms Wawn said. 

“Both of these issues are of the utmost importance to our members -- the builders and tradies that underpin a strong economy in cities, towns and regions around the country.  They are both long standing policy positions of the organisation and we have an obligation to our members to stand up for what is important to them. 

“Union bullying in the construction sector is not tolerated anywhere else in the community but unions persist in using bullying tactics to hold the industry and the community to ransom. Union bullying drives up construction costs by 30 percent, forcing the community to pay more for schools and hospitals and other taxpayer funded infrastructure.

“Doubling capital gains tax and restrictions on negative gearing will mean that up to 42,000 new homes are not built, up to 32,000 less jobs will be created and that up an $11.8 billion hit on the building industry will occur,” Ms Wawn said. 

“Our industry makes a huge contribution to a strong economy so Master Builders does not want to see economic growth put at risk by policies that give a green light to union bullying or result in less new homes being built.

“Both major parties boast of their plans for a strong economy. They must acknowledge that as the nation’s second largest industry, largest provider of full time jobs and with more than 370,000 small business, a successful building and construction industry is fundamental to achieving economic growth and higher living standards,” Ms Wawn said. 

“The Strong Building Strong Economy Campaign provides an opportunity for our members “voice” to be heard, the voice of an industry that is integral to the future success of our nation."

www.masterbuilders.com.au

ends

THE Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) has released the percentage breakdowns of small business owners for the top 20 marginal electorates, in the lead up to the Federal Election.

Nationwide, small business owners make up 14 percent of voters and are an important part of marginal electorates, according to COSBOA CEO Peter Strong.

"COSBOA knows that small business people do not vote solely on small business issues but are influenced by their personal situations as well," Mr Strong said.

“With a Sensis survey released last week showing that 35 percent of small business owners haven’t yet decided who they are voting for, it’s more important than ever for parties and candidates to recognise the voting power of small business owners," he said.

"For example, in the electorate of Wentworth, NSW where the margin is 1 percent, they make up 22.19 percent of the voters. In Corangamite, Victoria, where the margin is 0.03 percent, they make up 10 percent. In Herbert, Queensland, with a margin of 37 votes, they make up 9.25 percent of voters, roughly 10,200 people." 

Mr Strong said employees of small businesses also have a vested interest in small business policies and understand that their jobs depend upon the business being successful.

"The relationship between small business employers and their employees is normally very good and, whether we like it or not, employees can be influenced by the opinions of their employer," he said.

“The best way to get a small business vote is to talk to us as people not just as businesses. We value time with our family; the removal of complexity; the ability to focus on our business and our employees not on unnecessary compliance; and on fairness in dealings with big businesses and governments.

"We want to run our businesses and stay healthy. Not all of us want to grow to become a large business but we do want the economy to be stable; and those that do want to grow, want access to finance and support when needed,” Mr Strong said.

COSBOA will publish a comparison of policies from the major parties prior to the May 18 Federal Election.

www.cosboa.org.au

The top 20 marginal electorates with the percentage of small businesses:

Electorate

State

% Margin 

% Small Businesses

Herbert

QLD

0.02

9.25

Corangamite

VIC

0.03

10.02

Forde

QLD

0.6

11.46

Capricornia

QLD

0.6

11.38

Gilmore

NSW

0.7

9.13

Cowan

WA

0.7

13.00

Longman

QLD

0.8

8.26

Wentworth

NSW

1.0

22.19

Flynn

QLD

1.0

13.74

Dunkley

VIC

1.0

11.27

Lindsay

NSW

1.1

10.24

Robertson

NSW

1.1

10.89

MacNamara

VIC

1.2

28.33

Cooper

VIC

1.3

12.39

Banks

NSW

1.4

12.66

Griffith

QLD

1.4

16.44

Petrie

QLD

1.6

8.80

Dickson

QLD

1.7

10.56

Braddon

TAS

1.7

9.03

Hasluck

WA

2.1

11.70

 

By Chris Hare >>

AS ADVANCEMENTS in technology plough ahead and the business world becomes increasingly interconnected, leadership is now more complex than ever. With this rapid and constant change, it can be challenging to get executives on the same page when it comes to navigating business strategy.  

In fact, almost all businesses have strategy struggles. Of course there are some who are unable to think about next quarter, much less next year, but even companies with an enunciated strategy often lack alignment.

The problem is that the executives either do not agree with the strategy or have contrary views of what it means.  That is because most strategies focus on broad financial outcomes and product or project milestones, leaving the interpretation of what each function needs to do to each executive.

Leadership must move beyond vision statements and financial forecasting into modelling scenarios that bring together the two key elements of business: the activities that underpin success and the people required to make it happen. 

SCENARIO PLANNING

The key vehicle responsible for executive strategy is the workforce, so leaders must become better at intelligent uses of technology for scenario planning.  This means using Strategic Workforce Planning (SWP) to achieve clarity and align the leadership team to execute strategy effectively.

According to a recent study by Accenture, only 55 percent of executives say their organisation does scenario planning at best annually. The same study also shows that 61 percent of executives say they are not well prepared to change the workforce skill and job mix to transition into a digital business.

Also, according to a CFO study by Deloitte, for many companies, the top three risk areas in strategy execution are:

Failure to adequately translate the strategy from high-level ambition to specific actions the organisation must take to make that ambition a reality;

Failure to appropriately adapt the strategy when conditions change; and

Failure to put in place the organisational capabilities required to sustain the strategy after it is enacted.

These findings are no surprise, as many large listed companies are faced with major misalignment in business strategy execution between the CEO, COO and CFO.

UNCOVERING MISALIGNMENT

A common theme uncovered by SWP is the misalignment across the leadership team on what capability and capacity change is required to effectively execute the business strategy. 

This is a huge risk for investors and boards when trying to assess management’s ability to deliver its own plan.

Dynamic scenario modelling of SWP is a powerful tool in bringing executives around the table and driving invaluable conversation.  This is because it takes executives through a joint conversation on critical activities that are required for plan delivery. 

They are comfortable debating BAU (business as usual) volumes and potential business disruption if a model is in front of them.  Even better when it then denominates the outcome in something they all understand, people. 

Knowing the degree of change in people required helps the business determine how realistic the strategy is and what is going to be required to make it happen.

As in Synchronicity by Joseph Jaworski, “a managers’ inner model never mirrors reality . . .  it is always a construct. The scenario process displayed through modelling is aimed at these perceptions inside the mind of a decision maker. By presenting other ways of seeing the world, decision scenarios give managers something very precious: the ability to re-perceive reality, leading to strategic insights beyond the mind’s reach”.

This dynamic really aligns the workforce with the business and with finance. It provides a quantitative basis for intricately understanding the workforce, facilitates great discussions and most importantly creates a call to cohesive action to ensure successful strategy execution.

QUANTITATIVE STRATEGY

Unlike other methods, SWP is particularly useful as a foundation for driving clear conversations.  It articulates workforce demand and enables the businesses to see the necessary workforce to align with strategy.

With the workforce being not only the largest cost for most organisations, and arguably the biggest asset, the need for the C-suite to intricately understand and proactively plan for the future is critical.

Executives who fail to employ SWP will lag behind, as SWP provides a clear mandate for businesses building a future view of the workforce. This is even more critical in the face of the future of work, technology and automation, where understanding the capability and retraining opportunities will be needed to ensure organisations remain competitive.

However, the roadmap laid out by the external lens provided by future of work is useless if companies do not consider their own context.  They must integrate the external view with their own business planning and labour composition to understand how to achieve. 

Only SWP brings these elements together.

IMPROVED DECISION MAKING

The value of being able to quantitatively understand workforce needs cannot be underestimated.

If you were to ask executives if they knew what workforce their organisation needs today, it is likely the answer would be no. The majority of companies are flying blind, rolling out business initiatives that they often don’t even know they can execute.

Being able to identify the value of different initiatives in the context of critical business drivers gives executives the insight to prioritise and plan. By integrating financial principles, SWP ensures every decision is commercially grounded.  This enables executives to make decisions that align workforce initiatives and optimise their success.

SWP enables executives to nuance the dynamics of workforce supply and demand to proactively determine the best initiatives across not only the traditional build, buy, borrow suite, but also which segments they need to focus on for retention, what they should eliminate in a coherent context and which productivity and efficiency initiatives will have the most impact and where.

ROADMAP FOR THE FUTURE

Executives who employ SWP have an informed view of business strategy versus the workforce, integrating all elements in a dynamic and predictive construct to centre the conversation on strategy, planning and action.

It is with these insights, executives are able to align their focus in delivering imperatives in the constantly changing contexts their company operate within.

The power of decision scenarios as a critical strategic business tool is the greatest advantage of SWP.

Take the case of Royal Dutch Shell Group of companies. Their system of scenario planning is acknowledged to be one of the best strategic planning systems used today and has been credited for turning around its business performance.

At Shell, planning for the future is done through scenarios, which not only enables superior decision making, but also facilitates alignment between management teams who are all perceiving things through their own lens.

SWP crystallises the strategy and actions needed to achieve the desired outcome. Through dynamic scenario workshops, SWP forces a shared view of the more detailed activity projections and creates an understanding of the resourcing and capability change required to achieve.

With technology already changing the way we work, which will only keep changing exponentially, it is essential for executives to plan for the future of their workforce now.

By building this understanding with SWP, executives are better equipped to align business strategy and execution.

www.qhr.com.au

 

About the author and QHR

Chris Hare is the co-founder and director of Quantitative HR (QHR), a business leading the market in applying the latest strategic workforce planning and HR analytics approaches to enable clients to unlock the value of their human capital. QHR translates client business strategies into workforce implications to form commercially-grounded, targeted action plans. QHR has worked with clients such as Telstra, Optus, Transport for NSW, ING and Ausgrid. www.qhr.com.au

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