Tag Archives: change

A digital transformation to prepare your organisation for the future

Digital Transformation - Jo CaudronAre you in the board of your organisation? Take a look to your left & right. Do you think there’s enough digital savviness to survive the coming years? Jo Caudron explains with seven metaphors why it’s important to join the digital transformation and gives five tips to get your started today. You can read more in his new book “Digital transformation – Bereid je organisatie voor op de toekomst”.

Digital pioneer, Jo Caudron, founder of DearMedia, explained in his keynote “Digital transformation” about how organizations can prepare themselves for the (digital) future.

Jo uses seven metaphors to explain why times are changing:

  1. The glass house – Everything nowadays is transparent due to social media. The cameras are always close, everything is recorded and can go viral very ast. There no room anymore for organizations that aren’t transparent.
  2. The package – Everything used to be bundled in one package, but now we see vertical bundles. For example the CoolBlue online shop has a shop for almost everything: PDA’s, laptops, cameras, …, pepper & salt devices. The limitations of the physical world do not exist in the digital world, so you need to think different. Your challengers are not attacking your business as a whole, but take small parts of your cookie each time. The challengers can do this because they specialize in one area and easily outperform the larger organisations. They also have the advantage that they don’t drag along their legacy and can scale very fast.
  3. The frog in the boiling water – Challengers can take the opportunity to bypass the well-established organizations which aren’t aware of the changing conditions or are not dealing with it. For example, Ikea started offering insurances. Another example is Google laying the foundation for its own Internet so it can bypass the established organizations in the telecom sector.
  4. The gatekeeper – In an organization, traditionally there were only a few important people who act as gatekeepers. Today this role is no longer important: there’s crowd sourcing and experts can decide to start on their own. For example, financial bloggers that leave their organization to give independent advice.
  5. The traveller – Today we have all techniques in the back of our pocket. The digital and physical world meet via the mobile device in our hand. Everything that used to be physical, can be done digital today.
  6. The participant – The sharing economy is growing in importance. We see initiatives as peer-to-peer lending clubs, car sharing, etc. Is your organization joining the sharing economy, or still in resistance to it (cfr. Uber and AirBnb)?
  7. The cyborgYou ain’t seen nothing yet: there’s more to come in our digital revolution. Think of the possibilities of the current Big Data hype and the unleashed potential of robotics.

To survive the digital transformation as organisation, Jo advises five steps:

  1. Create a clear transformational strategy – Understand, analyse, create a vision and a roadmap.
  2. Create digital leadership – Is your current management digital savvy? Create a “Digital CEO” position in your board.
  3. Innovate in the right places – There are different types of innovation: incremental, disruptive and sandbox. Know which to use when.
  4. Build the transformational fleet – Your organization might be a big tanker that’s very slow to change direction. Make it possible for little speedboats to discover new territory at their own pace.
  5. Change the culture – There’s a new customer with new demands, living in an ever-changing world of uncertainty. You need an agile and flexible organization to survive. Don’t be afraid to cannibalize your own business, if you don’t, some challenger will.

The session of Jo was inspiring and fits with the message his colleagues, Steven Van Belleghem and Peter Hinssen, are spreading. On the other hand, I do have to admit that sometimes I wonder if listening to them is the same as listing to a doomsday prophet a few hundred years ago. The message is quite negative: change or you won’t survive, but maybe this is the right message at the time?

Additional reading

Jo Caudron has published a new book on the subject “Digital transformation – Bereid je organisatie voor op de toekomst” which can be bought at Lannoo:

“Digital transformation – Bereid je organisatie voor op de toekomst”

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Digital trends in 2015

Digital trends in 2015Disruptive business models, IT as an essential part of the organization and flexible leadership play a role in the digital trends for 2015. Ron Tolido, Senior Vice President Capgemini CTO Office, shares insights on these topics and what to expect in 2015. This blog post will share some insights.

After “Big Data” in 2014, “disruptive” will be the new trend and buzz word of 2015. Disruptive is used when you radically change your business model to disrupt the market. We know that the goal of many start-ups is making a swing at the big organization with their disruptive business model. But you don’t have to be a (small) start-up to join the ride. Even bigger organizations can take the same approach by, for example, starting a spinoff. In the financial world we saw this happening with direct banking: bigger banks with a long heritage and according legacy are often too rigid to react to the flexible market. As a solution they start direct banks as spinoffs without the legacy slowing them down.

But it’s wise to start a spinoff and become a direct competitor of your own (big organization)? Well, Ron pointed out that it’s better to eat some of your own cookie, than when others would do it. Fair point.

Leadership plays a key role in digital innovation to make (increase) profits and gain market share. Conservative leadership will also still work, but the effect will decline as new opportunities are missed and market share declines.

Innovation without dedicated and involved top management will not work. A dedicated Chief Innovation Manager, a Strategy Manager or CIO alone is not sufficient: the whole top management must be convinced of the need to enter the digital age. Bottom-up initiatives contribute, but without a clear direction from top, they will come to a halt.

If you go for digital innovation, you have to go the full monty. Some organizations digitalize and freshen up the front office, but the back office remains the same. We’re not only talking about shop design and used technology, but also of a culture and mentality shift. You cannot be a client centric organization if this is only valid for your front office and not for your back office. Imagine the best hospitality and service in the shop, and waiting for ages from a response from the back office. I’m sure you can recall a few example organizations where this is valid.

The IT department of your organization matters. There used to be a time where the IT department was located in the cellar. The employees were considered as pariahs at work, Ron shared jokingly, “We had to sit at a different table in the cafeteria and still our colleagues were looking strange at us”. These days are over for sure as we enter the digital age. IT is changed from a supporting function for crunching numbers to an essential role in the future of the organization.

Before showing some technical innovations coming our way, Ron concludes that IT management needs to evolve from an infrastructure to an infostructure. It’s time to cut off old applications instead of keeping the alive. We need to learn to stop things instead of providing support forever.

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The colors of change

Colors of change by de Caluwé & Vermaak“All blue people are assholes”, Professor Peter De Prins started, “blue people want change with targets. It needs to be measured or otherwise you cannot get them on board”.

After we just filled in the change color self-test, I take a look into the classroom to catch reactions. The body language of some participants gave an idea about their internal reflexions.

Of course, Professor De Prins wasn’t serious about it (at least I hope so because I scored blue for doing and red for thinking). He just wanted to make a statement and wake up the group.

People are different

People are different and your change management approach should take this into account. There is no one change approach for changing your organisation. While you can motivate some with numbers, others need (to be in) a guiding coalition.

De Caluwé & Vermaak offer a framework for this: the ‘colors of change’ or also known as the ‘change color theory’. These change paradigms offer insight on how people perceive and deal with change. Like they say: each person has his buttons and you need to know them to be able to push them.

The colors of change

The framework of de Caluwé & Vermaak distinguish five different colors of change prints:

  • Yellow – based on social-political and power play. Change is a negotiation process.
  • Blue – rational design and implementation of change. A lot of tools and processes are used. Blue people set targets for and try to control change.
  • Red – set up HR systems for reward and punishment.  Red people rely on social events and team building.
  • Green – change and learning are closely linked. Set up learning situations and feedback.
  • White – chaos and complexity. No path determined on beforehand.

After I was taught the theory and with the benefit of hindsight it was easy to reflect upon previous change projects and see the causes for success and failure. In previous change project there was almost always one color left out. This resulted in not addressing one target group.  For example, while we did tune our message for rational and emotional people, other groups were left out.

How are you doing? And thinking?

Do you know how you are doing change and thinking about how change needs to be done? De Caluwé & Vermaak offer a self test here. Small remark: it’s perfectly normal that there’s a difference in the way you’re doing change and how you think it needs to be done.

Which is the best/worst color type?

As with many personality tests (eg. MBTI, Belbin) there’s more value into knowing which type you are, rather than for selecting ‘the best type’. As mentioned above, I got different results for thinking and doing.  And after some reflexion I know that in stressful situations I’m pushed into blue thinking, so for me the challenge first being aware of this and next addressing the other types of people in my communication and change management approach.

Additional reading

Make sure you check our their video material, also available as playlist on YouTube.

Thinking in colors – on video

An Overview of Change Paradigms

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Viral is just a sneeze away

One of the buzzwords nowadays is ‘viral’. What is it and how can you use it?

What is viral?

‘Viral’ is used when information spreads by itself through the vast interconnected network of social media that are available today like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, chat clients, etc. Just like with a virus, the spread of ‘infected’ people increases exponentially.

Examples of viral spreads are:

You probably can recall a few yourself. You maybe even composed a ‘Harlem shake’ video of your own or with your colleagues at work (if so, please share in the comments).

Further, your content doesn’t need to be inaudio or video format, other things can go viral too. Sometimes these things are specific and tangible (eg. the ‘Harlem shake’ video and ‘Gangnam style’ song). However concepts like ‘planking‘ or physical items like the iPhone can also go viral.

How does something go viral?

Viral contentTo compare with a disease: to go viral you need people who carry and spread. And spreading these days is not that hard anymore because of our increased interconnectivity. The people who spread are your promoters. It can be compared with your friend praising the new coffee shop in your town, but with our social media they are now saying it to (on average) 140 other people at once. These 140 other people have in average another 140 connected people and if they share and if their contacts share… Well, do the math.

On the other hand, it’s not enough that some random people start to spread. A lot of my Facebook friends are spreading stuff, but I would rarely open it. It depends who is spreading it (“wow, if he is promoting this, I must see it”), or the number of people that are spreading it (“wow, there must be something going on”).

For example, a new rock song parody that your aunt promotes, or that the Artic Monkeys do. Or that thirty of your friends do.

To summarize: viral content is pushed by people and driven by the influence of those people, and the popularity (number of shares).

Can you choose to go viral?

This is probably the million dollar question every marketing company is looking for the answer to. People nowadays are already overwhelmed by communication from all kinds of sources: the Internet, books, blogs, social media updates, etc. Why would they choose to watch or even find your content? You need to get your promoters working and start sharing your content.

But before you start, remember: content is king. What is so special about your content that people are willing to take a (small but real) reputation risk by spreading it? To go viral your content also needs to be picked up by the great mass, and you cannot control that.

You can try to go viral, but there is no guarantee it will work

How can you use viral at work?

As a change & culture officer, we sometimes like to spread things the viral way.

In the following cases we used viral marketing that worked:

  • Setting up a community of change ambassadors.
  • Spreading bits of information that everyone is eager for. To refer to the old saying “knowledge is power”.
  • Leaking news/updates to specific groups of people.
  • Leaking alleged ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ content, and new insights.
  • Starting up an in-company competition.
  • Blogs that publicly appraise others.

Additional reading

What does it mean to go viral?

Ten tips to go viral

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The future of Tomorrowland

If you have a ground breaking success concept, when do you know it is time for renewal? Ask your customers.

In September 2012, the Belgian Electronic Dance Music festival “Tomorrowland” won the DJ Award of Best International Festival. A few months afterwards, in March 2013, Tomorrowland got confirmation while winning the “Best Dance Festival of the world” award on the International Dance Music Awards (IDMA).

As small as Belgium is, it is known outside its borders for chocolate, beer, music and music festivals. There are many festivals here which have won prizes like Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop. But Tomorrowland is not an ordinary festival, Tomorrowland is more than just a bunch of artists performing on stage. It is a full experience which they refer to as “Tomorrowland madness”.

Tomorrowland 2013 - Main stage

Tomorrowland 2013 – Main stage


The organisation has put its work in the smallest details. While at other festivals you got the music and “the rest”, at Tomorrowland it is all integrated. There are no ordinary drink tickets, they are printed in the theme of the festival. There are no ordinary food stands, all follow the theme of the festival. At the toilets there are refreshment areas where you can get deodorant, perfume and sun screen, for free. At the camping, DreamVille, you can get baguettes and every morning you get a free news paper. Also the camping is following a certain theme. They have created a real theme world were you can leave your stress at home for four days and party without worries.

But it’s not all roses there: you pay a price for it. Four days of “madness” including camping costs about € 225. A beer costs € 2,8.

It wares out

I have been going to Tomorrowland for five years now and I must say that I was impressed… the first times. The very first time was overwhelming: all the time I was thinking about how they could have pulled this of. The second and third time I was still impressed. But despite the growth in international popularity, Tomorrowland seems to be stuck in the same concept.

As the festival grows from underground niche to mainstream popularity, the customer reactions and the press stay rather positive and many new people get their first overwhelming experience. In contrast, the returing customers (including me) are getting a bit bored. The festival hosts the same old line-up, news papers keep bringing the same good news show and obvious problems (camping flooded, mud madness, etc) are kept silent. After a while the Tomorrowland communication looses its credibility and people wonder if we shouldn’t better use the newspapers to cover up the muddy roads.

The future

With the philosophy of continuous improvement in our mind, we can only advise the organisation to do some soul-searching and ask for customer feedback. How long can they feed on the same concept without renewing? Other festivals like Nature One have the same artists, duration and a similar concept, for almost one-third of the price (€ 79 for four days without camping).

Some articles to get them started:

Will next year be my last year of “Tomorrowland madness”? If not, I’m sure I can make somebody else happy with their first overwhelming experience :-). I look forward to their communication.

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Request for comment: The power of employees to overcome the bank crisis

Change management in action! Writing about it is one thing, but now you have the chance for a sneak preview in the approach of our change management program at KBC Group.

KBC Group is an integrated bancassurance group, catering mainly for retail, SME and midcap customers. It concentrates on its home markets in Belgium and in certain countries of Central and Eastern Europe (daughters in Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Bulgaria). Elsewhere around the globe, the Group has established a presence in selected countries and regions (Ireland, USA, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Asia Pacific).

In October 2012 KBC launched the PEARL Strategy. This is the corporate change program for the entire KBC Group which combines the best of different change approaches of the past (e.g. Slim, Lean). PEARL stands for Performance, Empowerment, Accountability, Responsiveness and Local embeddedness.

Building the future together with Pearl

The competition

We are open for feedback to our approach and have participated in the HBR/McKinsey M-Prize “Leaders Everywhere Challenge“. Our story, “The power of employees to overcome the bank crisis“, was chosen as a finalist for the Leaders Everywhere Challenge.

Your contribution – call for action

One of the key criteria in the final judging for the winners of the “Leaders Everywhere Challenge” will be how we further develop our entry (both in response to judging comments and the comments and questions from your peers). For this we need your feedback, opinion and votes.

So I would like to invite you to comment, share and vote and help our contribution to win the competition:

The power of employees to overcome the bank crisis

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Which behavior are you rewarding?

Are you rewarding the wanted behavior in your organisation? Or only what looks like it? What actually pays off?

A pad on the backFor spreading the message we use presentations, inspirational talks, blogs etc. For projects we create project charters, planning schemes, critical paths and status reports. For looking at results we create data, charts, interpretations and more presentations.

Because people like to listen and other people like to talk, we spread more of these blogs, presentations and charts. We like the stuff that looks like output of something, but when we look close the actual added value is not always found. Who’s doing something with it?

As Leandro Herrero describes in his book “Viral change“, we are rewarding the wrong kind of behavior. We are actually confirming, rewarding and thus stimulating the “production” of things like presentations and stories, but we are not looking at the results they deliver. What good are all these inputs if there is no useful output?

“Waw, that was a great presentation. Next please.”

As long as we keep rewarding this behavior (by any means like promotion, salary increase, recognition, laughs, etc), the people in your organisation will keep exhibiting it.

The same is valid for this blog. For me it is a great way to spread my story and experiences, but I wonder who is doing something with it…

(FYI – with this post, I hope to make you more critical and start thinking in terms of output instead input)

Additional reading

Viral change

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Are you a corporate zombie?

Corporate zombiesYou have probably heard of the corporate athlete by Jim Loehr. The HBR article describes how you can keep yourself fit at corporate level. They give tips like taking breaks, clearing your head, and physical exercises.

So we know that there are fit and unfit corporate athletes, but I would like to add another employee type, the corporate zombie. Corporate zombies are the day walkers among the others. The ones who are at work, but are not really at work. You probably know a colleague who acts just like this.

Are you a corporate zombie?

Take the test below.
  1. You work from nine to quarter before five. The last quarter is dedicated to looking or waiting at the time-clock.
  2. You only follow your job description. Everything else is not your concern.
  3. You are known for your idea killers.
  4. The last training you followed was obliged by your team leader.
  5. Initiative is for others.
  6. You like to complain processes and procedures, but hate it to participate when there are initiatives to solve it.
  7. You are known for your skepticism with corporate change projects.
  8. You best discussions are the gossip sessions in the coffee corner.
  9. Before giving your opinion, you first look to your left and right to check if anyone else is listening.

Do you recognize at lease five of these characteristics? In that case it’s time for a change!

Some tips to overcome zombieness

  1. Are you sure doing the right job? Check your talents, find your passion.
  2. Work at your enthusiasm and motivation:
    1. Find purpose in your job. Even if you don’t like what you are doing right now.
    2. Evaluate your day. Write down one thing that went good.
    3. Ask more autonomy to fill in your day job.
  3. Unlock your creativity. Participate in creativity exercises or games.
  4. Engage in after-work events. Get to know your colleagues on another level.
  5. Avoid using idea killers (eg. like “yes, but…”), but see through the idea and discover its possibilities.
  6. Find a mentor, explain your situation and plan a weekly meeting where you discuss the passed week.

To end with a quote:

Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda, Star Wars

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Four rooms of change

People typically go through different changes of stage. This blog explains the Four Rooms of Change with an example.

Change is about emotions. Nobody likes change, but we all deal with it in a different way. According to the Four Rooms of Change  theory (often incorrect referred to as the Change House Model) we all go through different phases in the change process. Everybody can be in a different phase and we all have a different pace when evolving through it.

The Change House

The Change House

Let’s explain with an example

Recently Google, Apple and Amazon have entered the banking business. During their success in the last decennium they acquired a big cash position and now offer financial services like credit cards and commercial loans.

When we don’t see the need to change, we’re in The Contentment Room of the change house. Our current situation is satisfying and we have no desire to change anything. We’re doing banking on our way for years and it pays off.  Why change? People might even get stuck in this situation and exit to The Sun Lounge.

When Google makes their big move, we will be caught off guard.

Suddenly a certain event happens: new companies like Google and Apple enter the banking business. We are triggered into the next phase, The Denial Room. Yet, we don’t see the risk. Why should we change? Google hasn’t got the banking experience like us and our customers are most familiar with our bank and our ways. The possible threat is not seen as such. People even might get stuck in this phase and fall in The Dungeon of Denial.

When the need for change is accepted, you enter The Confusion Room. In this phase, emotions like fear, anger, and (internal) conflict take over. The situation is new to us and we don’t know how to react. How can we compete with Google? Are they also entering the mortgage market? What are other banks doing?  I should have seen this coming… they had such a big cash position. It takes dedication and commitment to get to the next phase.
The risks in this phase are overanalysing the current situation and possible outcomes in The Paralysis Pit, or just plain giving up via the Wrong Direction Door.

When it all falls together, we’re in the The Renewal Room. We have made up our minds, we worked out a new approach and are ready to take up the challenge. We know how to deal with the new threat, we trained our clerks to respond to customer questions about Google, etc. But the journey doesn’t end here, we should prepare ourselves for another ride through the house. We don’t know what’s up next.

What can we do to help people going through the change?

Make people aware of their position in the change house:

  • Share the theory and use an example applicable for your situation. Other examples then explained above are:
    • News paper industry vs. the Internet.
    • Book press industry vs. the Amazon Kindle.
    • ICQ and MSN Messenger vs. Facebook chat.
    • The phone industry vs. Skype.
    • Nokia vs. the smart phone with touch interface industry.
    • Classic mortgage loans vs. public loans (Dutch: volkslening).
    • Fund investments vs. direct investments into wind energy parks by individuals.
  • People which are in denial (of the change) are most often hard to deal with because they’ll also deny that they’re in the Denial phase.
    • Emphasize on the need for change. Provide facts.
    • Repeat the why of the change on every opportunity you have (eg. coffee machine, meeting, presentation).
  • Don’t ignore, but acknowledge feelings. Listen to what they have to say. Talk to them, put it on the table.
  • Involve people who resist. They still use their energy to complain and give feedback. Try to use this energy in your advantage. The ones who react apathetic or have given up will be more difficult to get on your side.

Additional reading

Google wants to be a bank now

Four Rooms of Change

Change House Model

The Top 10 Ways to Manage People through Change

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The big fat cat of lazy strategy

The big fat cat of lazy strategyWhen an organisation is doing great and achieving its results year after year, after a while the organization and the people running it will get complacent. The results are ok, the numbers are there… why should we change? Why should we evolve? The markets are probably changing a bit, but we’re still with the best ones in class, right?

You can compare this with a domestic cat that has been around for years. Let’s call him Felix. In the early years Felix was quick, agile and playful. Once in a while he would catch a mouse or a bird and bring it to your door. No matter the weather conditions, Felix was always outside, keeping guard, discovering and hunting. But Felix is not stupid: after a while he understands that every day his care taker will bring his food, a cup of water, and also the house is always kept at a nice temperature.  Even when they’re off to work! “Look at all those dumb cats outside”, Felix smirks, “getting dirty and cold and all.” He turns on his back, belly up and falls asleep before the window in the warm sun.

Felix might not have noticed it, but the world outside isn’t changing so slow. New cats are born and the young males are checking out the yard behind the house. On the other side of the glass, Felix confirms with a quick look around the house that he is still master of the house: the dog is no competition at all, some of the other cats were scared of him since they were only little kittens and for younger ones he was considered to be a mentor. Felix was searching for and found confirmation that he’s still doing ok. He sighted, petted his own back and went back for a quick nap in the warm sun behind the good side of the window.

Felix isn’t aware that there will come a day that conditions will change. This day may even come very unexpected, let’s say a new owner, or maybe just and agreement with the children that the cat needs to be outside when the family is out. When Felix will be put outside it would be too late for him to change, to catch up with the other cats. He’s out of shape, he forgot to daily sharpen his claws and “why does the pavement feel so rough today?”, he thinks, and notices his paws lost their callus. Felix is up for a hard time in the new world, but most of all: he is overwhelmed.

When his master returns from work at five, Felix is happy to quickly sneak back into the house with him. “Pfew, back to the good life”, he thinks, but decides no more to stand idle with his current situation. He call in a local pet meeting and shares his story. The cats conclude that with only internal benchmarking their capabilities and current situation, they can not keep up with the changing conditions outside.  To keep up they still need to check inside the house for internal improvements, but also outside! What is happening outside? Is there a new, hipster cat on the block? Are the other cats forming clans to take over their territory? Are we kind enough to our clients, the masters of this house, or are we taking them for granted? How can we keep the good food coming, but avoid the painstaking trips to the vet?

After a long night sharpening his claws at the side of the sofa, Felix took a deep sigh and fell asleep in it. He was going to need more than one local pet meeting to figure this one out.


Thanks to my colleague Piet for the metaphor.

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