Here’s how technology is helping executives unlock a step change in management
I have a confession to make. In the early days of digital learning, I led a team that pioneered the development of the first enterprise learning management system. Like others, I saw the technology-driven transformation of learning as the missing link between developing people and achieving business goals—a step toward realizing Peter Senge’s vision for a learning organization.
The promise of digital learning made sense in a paradigm where development, articulation, and implementation of corporate strategy were discrete stops along a path toward Total Quality, Six Sigma, agile management, or other theories centered on improving organizational efficiency. Because from Taylor to Drucker and Porter to Kotter, management theorists assumed that executives (and their gurus) would get the strategy right. Talent was a perennial challenge. Learning and development was a part of the solution. Technology was an accelerant.
Of course, our vision for the technology-driven transformation of organizations wasn’t new. Over the last twenty years, enterprise platforms from ERP to CRM, HCM and even email, all promised game-changing productivity gains, automating some functions and organizing others. But most enterprise software, including the LMS, simply layered technology on an efficiency paradigm designed for another era. Even collaboration tools like Yammer and Chatter to Slack and Jive are rooted in a paradigm that centered on efficiency—often generating more signal than noise across the enterprise with conversations that lack relevance or structure.
As a result, despite billions invested in enterprise technology, 70% of new strategies still fail. The underlying management paradigm hasn’t adapted to the pace of change. And the pace of change is only accelerating. The growth of mobile, shifting consumer preferences and globalization are putting unprecedented pressure on organizations in a world where the shelf life of skills is just five years.
But today, the convergence of mega trends from mobile to AI and predictive analytics has fueled the development of a new category of technology designed to equip individual leaders with the tools to deploy, track, and manage implementation of strategy. We call it the Strategy Activation Platform, and it is enabled by the widespread adoption of mobile computing. Structured dialogue, coupled with machine learning natural language processing, now enables executives to quantify employee sentiment. Over time, thousands of conversations and ideas generate deep analytics that can, for the first time, enable business leaders to respond, iterate, and evolve strategies in real-time.
Consider the case of Dow Chemical, where virtual idea tournaments crowdsourced insights from across the enterprise, leading to $88 million in supply chain cost savings and efficiency.Or Mastercard, where 15,000 employees globally engage with one another across business functions, enabling a transformed business model that accelerates new product launches. Or Mattress Firm, where strategy activation led to faster launches of new products and $20 million in top-line growth.
These companies are embracing strategy activation. And they are on the verge of unlocking the first step change in management since the industrial revolution.
From the forthcoming paper, “Augmented Management Intelligence: CAN ROBOTS BRING HUMANITY BACK TO THE WORKPLACE?”