From time to time Albert will walk in with a complex as hell question. It may be the way his mind works or just the extraordinary situations he finds himself in.

He asked, “So how can we work for a technology client and still struggle with Outlook? Why don’t they use the millions of apps for business available?”

By apps for business he meant Trello, Franz, Google apps, Slack, Dropbox and the plethora of other businesses built by the world’s most brilliant minds to help evolve the nature of business in our time and age.

Valid question with no valid answer. At the time, anyway. How could a technology business not be the most technologically adept business? It made no sense. Over the months,however, we’ve had the conversations for me to finally understand why, the uptake of new technology is not as swift as it is developed.

The People Who Run Businesses:

Big businesses are built by successive promotion of talent and so in most cases people in management are the most experienced people in the business. Why is this dangerous? Because these people rely on the tools that got them to where they are. They trust Outlook and distrust Thunderbird.

They don’t understand Skype, Slack, Trello or Jira, because the only way to get work done is by having meetings. They also don’t understand the millennial-preferred offsite working.

And so, these decisions and technologies don’t get bought into, they don’t get signed off as business solutions and they don’t get used. So business remains archaic and stagnant.

 

The Industry In Which Businesses Operate:

The industry is made up of thousands of people who only think that office wear must include a tie for gentlemen. That dreadlocks are for hooligans. That everyone must be bribed. Thus, these ideas become cast in stone. They become millstones around the whole industry’s neck.

This attitude permeating the industry makes it inflexible, sluggish and bloated. It takes more time to come to decisions, more consultation to arrive at options, and ever more options to satisfy a boardroom of decision makers. The world’s leading businesses are agile, lean and extremely fast. Decisions are taken, businesses either succeed or fail and they learn from it. And move on.

 

The Talent Pool In The Market:

Businesses must also be aware of the people in their employ; millennials! More collaborative, less rigid and more creative about how they approach their work than any generation ever born! Businesses and the industry must first and foremost serve these people’s needs; which although they seem erratic, aren’t. They are just processing more information than anyone ever has.

“Write a tweet, finish and send the report, respond to the girlfriend about the weekend, walk into a 5 minute huddle, bite into the sandwich, sip on a coffee, double tap Grace Nakimera’s Instagram album, make plans for this evening. And that’s all before 8:45am!”

 

Old Dogs and New Tricks:

How does a business that only used to plan for Easter, Independence Day, Christmas, NRM day, and Eid holidays now retrofit itself to handle #MCM, #WCW, #TBT, #FBF, #SundayTwitter, Black History Month, Breast Cancer moth, The Kabaka run, the MTN Marathon, Movember,  #Tweminists, Grammar Nazis and the plethora of landmines waiting for it online? How can it do those things unless it changes how it works?

 

The Thirst is Real For Results:

Results! Results! Results! Everyone wants them. Clients want to know how much engagement there was on that post. Who clicked on it, where were they from? Can we message them with something else? Where did they go after they left the website? Cookies, algorithms, ad blockers, native advertising. Everything we do is measurable and someone wants to use those measurements to make money. Old technology will not have these answers.

New thinking and new knowledge is necessary. Buzz words today include; big data, A.I., blockchain, integrated marketing, Bretail, remarketing, influencer marketing etc. All fancy words to mean no one knows how today’s audiences behave so we are throwing everything at them to see what sticks. However, the guys at Cambridge Analytica are doing fun things with data.

No matter what you use, we need new tools because the old ones aren’t going to get the job done

 

How do we resolve these incongruences?

 

Has the advertising agency model died? Must we rethink it? Can big retainers continue to exist in an age where all employees have 2 or three skills? Can the model built on trust of credit survive in the harsh pre-paid economies of Africa? Can we

 

We must be bold. Courage and boldness in action will trump speed or strength every day. The courage to question the old ways. To depart from the knowledge that got us here but will not take us into the next 5 years. Must forge new paths.

 

We must commit. Commit to our businesses. Commit to unlearning and relearning. Commit to understanding our target audiences and what is hurting them. Know that client businesses are hurting and they need solutions that help their bottomlines.

 

We must be agile. Agility gives your business edge. It separates you form the bloated pack. Cut the fat from your organization and make it flat! Flat and lean like a start-up because if you want start-up money you must have start up structure and work ethic.

Allow to be bad. In his 50th Law, Robert Greene speaks of the necessity of aggression and how at the right time aggression can bring distinction thereby delivering the blue ocean your business desperetaly needs.

 

Or don’t do any of these things and go down in glory as the internet is full of companies that did nothing wrong and still went down.

 

2 thoughts on “LEAD! How Business Can Reinvent Itself for Today

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