Managing digital in time of uncertainty

In a time, where digital and customer centricity is at the core of most business strategies, we surprisingly see companies cut strategic digital initiatives in this time of uncertainty.

Kasper Greve
— Strategist & Partner

But the cost of stopping strategic core activities can be high in the long run. Often we find, that it only takes a structured approach to make sure, you are keeping up with the right initiatives. So how do we manage digital in a time of uncertainty - here are a few steps to follow. This is of course to generic to fit real life organizations, so see it as a direction and a framework:

1. The vision

First of all make sure there is a vision. This should be a vital part of your strategy. If there is no vision, there is no direction and your plans will lead to even more uncertainty. Your vision should be a strong narrative, visually grounded and be connected to a plan for executing and learning along the way. And make sure, that your digital strategy outlines, what you have chosen NOT to do. Enlightened choices are core in a strategy. But of course a vision is nothing without a strategy - but we guess, you have a digital strategy, right?

2. Insights as driver for prioritization and investment

When in doubt narrow down your opportunity space and manage your risk. The emphasis on working customer centric based on insights can’t be stressed enough. This is an ongoing task; insights management. To work customer focused and initiate the right projects, changes and development, you need to have a clear understanding of your customers and potential customers. This is, what guides decisions for the ones that succeed. Be aware whether you make decisions based on strategic insights or operational data, roadmap should be based on quality and quantitative user insights as well as other market research. There is a reason why many large organizations have had customer centricity as a key strategic focus area for years - but there is also a reason why few actually have succeeded. It takes more than data and it takes a structured methodology to convert insights to business.

3. Mapping of investment areas

Are you focused on short term profitability or long term growth? Are you in a process of foundation, transformation or innovation? By mapping your initiatives in the model of figure 1., where our investments are expected to make an impact, we will build a better understanding of where our efforts will benefit us in the future. Have we covered both short term and long term initiatives? Are we focusing on new markets and products? Or consolidating what we have?

Get the overview and break down initiatives into problem based roadmaps.

4. Organizational risks

In most organizations, we find that one of the greatest risk is the gap between strategy and execution, which is often overlooked (either intentionally or not) by traditional management consultants. There is a number of ways to close the gap and making sure, that everybody are solving the right problem, are following the strategy and have clear priorities. We need strategy to learn from execution to iterate and stay on track.

Although the biggest risk right now in our opinion is a high employee turnover.

During recent years a lot of organizations have hired skilled people with lots of experience and know-how.

If management is cutting projects without a concrete plan and vision, employee turnover will increase fast. Thereby all investments in the organization can be starting over when plan and projects are back on the board. Make skilled people solve real problems, also in uncertain times. So as well as asking yourself, what is cost of delay, the question should also be; what is my cost of employee turnover.

All in all the time is always now. Not for everything, but for doing what’s most important to strategy, to create tomorrow.

Kasper Greve
Strategist & Partner