It’s a serious question,

Can traditional, industrial-era organizations survive?

Disruptors and digitation are reshaping the competitive environment just as dramatically as a meteor changed earth’s ecosystem 55M years ago dooming the dinosaurs who had reigned for 200M years before.

No matter what sector your organization is in, the rate of change is accelerating.

In 1988 Andy Grove wrote a book, “Only the Paranoid Survive” but today only the SMART/AGILE will avoid competitive doom.

Today’s world is a much more hostile environment for traditional organizations who were born and shaped in slower and simpler times.  Doing nothing is not an option.  Small changes won’t be enough.

So, unless your organization has a secure monopoly the only path to the future lies in transformation, i.e. reinventing yourself to fit the current world. 

Of course, your organization has recognized this threat and is probably doing something to improve. But is it enough?

Transformation is truly tough and most (70%) fail.

Transformation is tough because both transformation’s destination and its journey are extremely challenging.

The outcome of transformation, a new operating model better equipped to succeed in this new environment, requires:

  • Turning the organization inside out to create new processes such as Agile Innovation and Agile Fulfillment
  • Becoming much smarter around core assets such as Data and Stakeholder Relationships
  • Smart EQ – socially intelligent collaboration
  • A set of new individual and organizational behaviors

The process of transformation is difficult because it requires:

  • Unprecedented executive leadership and unwavering sponsorship
  • Willingness to leave the past, even a successful past, behind
  • A dramatic discipline to stay focused on big change without getting distracted by incremental improvements
  • Willingness to learn thru experimentation
  • A new set of organizational behaviors that reinforce

Without any of these elements, failure is certain.

The Journey is a Harbinger of the new Future

The common denominator is clearly a new set of behaviors that must exist in both the process of transformation and in the new organizational model.  In other words, the actions of those driving transformation must adhere in advance to those needed to succeed in the new world.

What are these critical new behaviors? The core Smart Behaviors are as follows.


Everything begins with honesty, integrity, and safety.  If these are absent, nothing else matters.  When they’re only lip service, it’s time to prepare your resume. 

Customer Centric

While we focus on engaging employees, only customers pay’s everyone’s salary. Serving the customer must be more than a bland cliché but the source of a meaningful purpose to all employee’s augmented jobs no matter how near or far from the external customer.   Technology often best used to celebrate the human touch in integrating processes between suppliers and customers.

Balancing Ambitious with Humility

This behavior is defined by managing the tension between the relentless search for excellence and a constant dissatisfaction with the status quo. Successes must be celebrated but humility ensures the understanding that victories are always temporary.     


There’s an old Japanese aphorism, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”  This means all three basic forms of collaboration, human to human, human to computer and computer to computer must be designed and supported.  When this is working well teaming is common and shared goals and metrics are the norm. 

Decisive and Data Driven

Examples of this behavior in action include: using pushing autonomy to the front-line coupled with training and data provisioning, actively sensing the external environment to avoid bad surprises and, having clear decision rights for all designed roles. When HIPPO (the highest paid person’s opinion) is the decision-making norm, objectivity is always lost.

Doubly Accountable

Accountability is all about doing what you say you’ll do and doing it the right way.  Smart organizations focus on both the ends and the means and hold employees to both standards.

Intellectually curious

“Sacred cows make the best burgers” should be the motto of a smart organization. Having great data is useless unless employees are smart enough to ask the right questions. Augmented employees must be empowered to ask even uncomfortable questions and to challenge traditional beliefs.  With so much information now “knowable,” there must be no constraints to employee curiosity and no impediments to exploiting new ideas.

(in retrospect I think we’re missing one about learning by doing, i.e. active experimentation)


Can your organization survive or are you doomed? Take our assessment (link) now to find out!

From the team at PeopleProductive

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