3 Principles for Growth in the Digital Age

We have a tendency to rely on knowledge that have worked in the past. This is dangerous when technology drive change faster than ever. In life we know that we grow through experiences. We learn through interacting with others. Failures are important because it makes us question and adapt our behaviour. We know that we can’t predict the future. If anything is certain, it’s that life is uncertain.

How come we have such a hard time applying this mindset in our professional life?

The rise of social platforms and development in consumer electronics in the last decade have changed how we consume and communicate. However, the change we see in consumer behaviour doesn’t reflect the change in our organisational behaviour. We still organise work based on how it historically has been done and use processes that have worked in the past. The challenge is that many organisations and business leaders still have a dominant industrial logic. Such as having a top-down structure, being organised by function or competence and working with strategic plans that are both failing to predict the future and are lacking a user-centric perspective. Nevertheless, the time these strategic plans take to implement make them obsolete before they even leave the office.

Today it’s the users’ market

They decide what’s good and what’s not.
They vote with their wallets, time and attention.
They share the experiences they remember.

In marketing the Draper era is behind us. In business the transformative heroic leader myth is killed. In innovation the single mastermind innovator doesn’t exist. We should acknowledge the fact that we, as humans, both like to follow others to let them make the unpleasant decisions. But also that we simplify things to make sense out of the recurrent stream of uncertainty and complexity that we face.

We know better than to isolate the creative process to one individual. Or having the important decisions made by senior executives in a boardroom far from the actual value creation, which only leaves room for retrospective analysis. Historical data shows what worked in the past but lack the empathy to bring insight on what’s needed today.

It’s rather about serving the unmet needs and desires of your users (i.e. customers, partners or employees). This require new ways of working and a change in mindset.

Ask yourself: When was the last time you shared an experience with your users?

By empathising with your users you might want to reframe what business you’re actually in and question your current value proposition. Here are three principles that define the change in mindset needed for success and growth in the digital age.

1. User experience is key

It’s time to run a fully user-centric organisation. Your users should be part of your strategy from day one. You need to move away from the inside-out perspective, where strategies are formulated internally without the involvement of users. You shouldn’t think in channels of which the overall marketing concept should be distributed. Rather you understand that the user’s experience of your product, service or brand are contextual. It’s not until you put your offering in the hands of your users that you know if it’s any good or if it works.

2. Marketing as an integrated part of product development

Your product is never finished. If you truly believe that, what implications does it have on the purpose of marketing? Marketing is usually referred to as the distribution and attention of your offering to your customers. But you wouldn’t want to market a non finished product, right? That’s why it’s more healthy to think of marketing in terms of growth and to make it an integrated part of your product development. With the customer journey as your main perspective you have the ability to analyse and optimise your product through your user data. There will always be one metric that matters which can be improved. You just need the overview of your data and the organisational preconditions to focus and act on it. With this simplistic mindset your product development is basically about two things only: iterate or kill. To keep developing or to move on.

3. Fostering an experimental culture

Running a successful business today is about navigating through uncertainty. This implies a shift from static to dynamic. Going back to the introduction you would want your organisational members to adopt a growth mindset. Where individuals embrace failures as a natural part of learning and believe in the process of developing through feedback. However, this requires working environments that encourage experiments and playfulness with a high degree of psychological safety. Which is known to be the single most important factor for successful teams at Google. In addition to the autonomy to act agile in order to build, measure and learn.

In the end, the organisation needs to allow their employees to reach their creative potential. Together with these three principles you need a structure that embrace cross-functional collaboration within multidisciplinary teams. This is important in order to attract and keep the talent that will bring success to your business and make you reach your business goals.

It has never been more important for marketing and business consultants to facilitate the current knowledge that sits within the client’s business. If you’re interested in how this is done in practice your welcome to follow me on Medium for further reflections on the subject or visit Dedicated Strangers
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My writing let me reflect on both micro and macro aspects of the things that occupy my mind from time to time. To achieve both professional and personal development I’ll post my thoughts every now and then. I hope it made you think. If you’ve a subject that you want to reflect upon, don’t hesitate to write to me at andreas@dedicatedstrangers.com