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Beyond the health crisis – The proficiencies of sustainable change

September 29, 2020

Renowned and well-respected writer and advisor on innovation, Dr. John Kao, defines innovation as “the set of capabilities that enable the continuous realization of a desired future.” For Dr. Kao, innovation is not an event, a one-time occurrence, or something new. And I’m with him on that point.

My opinion is that we need to embrace the concept of innovation as continually developing, refining, and adopting the means to move to a future state. And I believe that establishing a set of core proficiencies is a fundamental part of enterprise renewal and renaissance – therefore it’s what I’ll be focusing on in this, the fourth article of my multi-part narrative on the subject.

So, following on from the other key drivers that I identified as being crucial in moving beyond the health crisis – position and platform – let’s now look at the importance of proficiencies when it comes to creating lasting change. Please allow statistical cookies to see this Youtube embed

Availability of innovation isn’t your issue

When Capgemini’s Chief Technology and Innovation Office introduced its Applied Innovation discipline and Applied Innovation Exchange global platform and infrastructure in early 2016, it was a model based on adoption, consumption, and application of innovation. Its design principles were speed, scale, certainty, trust, and intelligence.

At the core – and as a discipline versus an obsession with “shiny objects” and innovation lab-based “technology theatrics” – our model addressed the enterprise competencies, the means, the behaviors, the barriers, and the enablers to apply innovation.

However, today we still see a preponderance of research and writings discussing how disproportionately focused CEOs are on sourcing innovation, whether internally or externally. They look to culture and techniques such as crowdsourcing as part of a narrow focus on the front end of the innovation application value chain.

The thing is, access to innovation is far less of an issue now. There is more innovation and other terrific ideas available today than ever before. In my opinion, where enterprises consistently come up short, is through the lack of proficiencies and capabilities to address the innovation lifecycle demands – from discovery and sourcing, all through the way to adoption, application, and sustainment.

The four primary dimensions of proficiencies

Let’s consider four primary dimensions of proficiencies, which together can inform a journey map to a desired future state of enterprise renewal:

  1. Enablers of barriers

At Capgemini, our work with global and regional enterprises in virtually every industry sector has allowed us to identify 10 enablers or barriers. One or more of these will inevitably be at play to allow, accelerate, prevent, or delay the pursuit and realization of an intended outcome at the micro level, and enterprise transformation or renewal at the macro level.

These factors include enterprise proficiencies ranging from mission, vision, and purpose to leadership and culture; from operating model and process design to technology and execution discipline; from risk and trust profile to governance, etc. Assessing each of these allows you to focus on how well they will support your enterprise renewal, or how much attention must be paid to prevent these from undermining otherwise good ambitions and intentions.

  1. Must-have competencies

A second critical dimension of the enterprise’s proficiency portfolio is the operating attributes or fundamentals of the enterprise. We regard these as must-have competencies or design principles that inform the enterprise’s true north and establish performance characteristics to which a renewed enterprise can adhere. These include customer-obsession, landscape-driven, software-excellent, digitally native, and culturally resilient.

Each of these competencies has strong implications for renewing the enterprise because they inform the future state mindset, leadership practices, enterprise architecture, operating models, and stakeholder behaviors required to stay aligned to your core principles – in spite of the continued volatilities, uncertainties, complexities, ambiguities, and changes that lie ahead.

In order to achieve software-excellent and digitally native proficiencies specifically, upskilling and reskilling is a key consideration. Even back in 2019, the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work stated: “Today’s skills will not match the jobs of tomorrow.”1 And It’s recently come to light that higher skills proficiency is linked to GDP growth, labor force participation, and income equality.2

But I’m more interested in the topic of cultural resiliency. Long-held conventional wisdom underscored the sanctity and immutability of enterprise culture. Not only has this premise proven to be untrue, but for most enterprises it will be a mandatory requirement for renewal. Just consider the work of Bob Iger at Disney and his success at taking on culture at a company and in a sector where culture and DNA are virtually one in the same.

  1. Intelligences

The aforementioned Dr. Kao has recently completed a fascinating piece of work in conjunction with a broader collaboration with Capgemini. It promotes six intelligences applicable to individuals, interpersonal relationships, societies, leadership, and organizations. For our purpose here, we underscore these in the context of the renewed enterprise.

These intelligences form the means, or enterprise “fabric,” to both achieve and maintain the operating attributes presented above. But any sense of enterprise renewal or renaissance will also demand literacy, fluency, adoption, application, and proficiency in the six intelligences, which are:

1. Contextual
2. Moral
3. Clinical
4. Generative
5. Technological
6. Transformational.

4.  Agility and velocity

Finally, enterprise renewal must include the ability to execute with an agility and velocity far greater than has been traditionally demonstrated or experienced.

This, by definition, will include removing barriers and problems with far greater proficiency – not with the ethical lapses seen elsewhere – but with a commitment and willingness to act within appropriate norms and guidelines. And all this while avoiding institutional constraints and self-serving behaviors from being the anchors we witness time and again.

Let’s take the current threat from China and its ability to surge and scale at alarming speed as an example. What the Chinese quietly continue to perfect and excel at is a compelling ability to remove problems or barriers that lie ahead or prevent forward movement. Granted, this comes at a human, societal, and moral price one can certainly argue. However, it is a major advantage where western political and bureaucratic operating practices are failing to close the gap.

Ready for a new reality?

The pandemic has impacted the lives of more than 555 million workers.3 Our enterprises face a new reality. And the crisis has heightened our need to re-evaluate existing models of leadership. But our discourse can no longer be based on business-as-usual, incrementalism, or new normal paradigms. Something far more demanding, threatening, and urgent is now at hand.

We certainly must attend to the immediate circumstances of the health crisis, and we must get our enterprises back online to serve the near-term needs of its stakeholders. Yet, if these are only accomplishments in the immediate future, we will find ourselves more vulnerable, more exposed, at greater disadvantages, and fighting for economic relevance – if not survival.

Enterprise renewal and renaissance are necessary. No half measures. All in. And in the next and final article in this series, I’ll be opening a conversation and inviting discussion around why you really can’t afford to ignore the idea.





Get in touch with us to take a proficiency assessment and engage with our innovation experts to understand how equipped and positioned is your enterprise in applying and scaling innovation today.

And don’t forget to register to our upcoming webinar where I will be joined by a panel of experts to discuss the 3 drivers for success; Position, Platform and Proficiencies.

Read  the complete blog series on ‘Beyond the health crisis’ by Lanny Cohen here