The Brave New World of Digital, Business and Leadership Transformation and the Role You Play in It All – Brian Solis

I was moved by an inspiring piece about finding hope in a time of disturbances and uncertainty. It was written by my friend Andrew Penn, CEO of Telstra. Although it was published this time last year, I found it relevant now.

Penn observed that in these times of a great reset, it is only human to lose hope. It's true seemingly everywhere. Just looking at Twitter right now feels like the special place I once described as one human seismograph has turned into a digital octagon, a free-for-all where people fight for their truth, ignoring logic and empathy, with too many obfuscating the only definitions of truth and reality. It's a stark and real-time reminder of how easy it is to lose hope.

Whether it's a pandemic, politics, news, world events, social media, we are surrounded by, no, beaten down, division, fear, self-righteousness, hatred and outrage, and altogether, it all takes its toll on our optimism, imagination, creativity and most importantly, our individual and collective potential.

This anxiety, uncertainty and even frustration we feel now is shared worldwide. But we cannot give up.

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Mindset Transformation

As Penn so rightly pointed out, these experiences, for better or for worse, will shape us for the rest of our lives. We must remember that while we cannot control what happens to us, we can control how we react today, tomorrow and every day. The is our choice of how these events affect us and how we learn, read and grow forward.

This is a time for a change in our mindset.

This is a time for new leaders and new leadership. And leaders can come from anywhere and frankly, are needed everywhere.

If you're waiting for someone to save the day, take a look in the mirror.

This is precisely the time to see through all that is wrong, to see what is right, to find opportunities and solve problems and discover where you can play a role in driving meaningful change.

In your reflection lies hope and ability and change. A better future can be manifested … by you … and me … and all of us together. We just need to believe that we all play a role in leading change, even if it's not in our title.

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Digital transformation

When it comes to our work, it is important to remember, feel, who our customers and employees are and what it is they value. We are all people, not numbers or algorithms. And above all, customers and employees carry the same emotions that we do, and perhaps the ones we don't yet realize.

They are also worried, frustrated, stressed. They want things to get better. And those feelings extend directly to the companies they support and the companies they work for.

In every engagement and throughout their journey, what they feel then and what they feel when they leave, every moment added up, defines the customer and employee experience, and ultimately our relationship with them. These experiences, impressions and expressions make up our brand.

This is why experience design and innovation, beyond tactical customer experience (CX) or employee experience (EX) strategies, represent a suitable opportunity to build stronger, lasting and rewarding relationships with…people. We get to design these moments to give people reason and validation to engage with us, to deliver meaningful experiences that they enjoy, share and seek again and again.

In a world of lingering chaos, anxiety and doubt, be the light, someone must…

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Customers and employees need to know that we not only understand their goals and desired outcomes, but also who they are, their history and aspirations. They want to be famous. They want to be valued. They want to be remembered.

Any chance to add reprieve to their day, put a smile on your customer's or co-worker's face, or make someone feel special or help someone do something amazing, at any given moment, means a lot these days.

Perhaps this is anticlimactic, but this is the moment I bring up digital transformation. But that's where leadership and opportunity meet to do something different going forward. This is not so much about digitization or renovation of older processes and models. Iteration and continuous improvement is just that, it is constant. This time is really about revolution and innovation…that is what transformation is all about after all. To transform is to change our future. Start by changing yours the organization's mindset as my friend Simon Mulcahy says.

Digital transformation isn't just about digital, it's about people and how we use technology to understand them, bring them together, to improve experiences and cultivate relationships. That's what makes it so special. Digital transformation is about using innovative technologies, such as AI, mobile, real-time and predictive analytics, automation, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, decentralization, robotics, metaverse/3D and more to be… human. With intent and purpose, we can use technology to be more empathetic, to be more integrated, intuitive and useful in the products, services and experiences we offer customers and employees.

And we are the ones responsible for inventing these new experiences, new products and new services, to create new value, new channels and new ways of communicating with our customers and employees. That is the real power of digital transformation. That is the real opportunity before you as tomorrow's leaders, right now.

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We can upgrade our ideas and plans around digital transformation to reimagine our organizations for a completely different world, because that is what it is. 2020 created a significant crack in our trajectory. Some will batten down the hatches, minimize risk and cut ahead. Others will seize this moment and the shift in our trajectory to invent, innovate and transform. The good news is that history is on the side of the latter.

It's not just digital transformation either. The time is now for operational transformation, mindset transformation and leadership transformation. It's a complete CTRL-ALT-DEL moment for ourselves and our companies.

We need to bring together different operational and data silos to work towards a better outcome of better serving our customers by better engaging employees. This is our moment to deliver enchantment over conversions, optimization and modernization over digitization, balance and wellbeing and morale over productivity and output, and empathy and personalization and relationships over transactions.

We can really change the way we work. We can foster more profitable and useful behaviors. We can use technology to get better, do good and make a leap into the universe.

if you think about it, that's exactly what we haven't done for the last 50 to 60 years. It could be argued that companies used technology to get further away from customers, not closer, to automate, scale, achieve efficiency, increase margins, go faster and the list goes on. But now the opposite can also be true and possible, for those who care, to use technology to do everything important to business success while investing in people and customer relationships.

Put people and relationships at the center of everything we do. Technology makes it possible.

Move customer experience and employee experience to the “customer” and “employee” experience. This is where our purpose and potential will matter most. Adding that apostrophe changes the whole game. It forces us to see the world through their eyes, to know it as they would know it. Remember that every touch in every touchpoint shapes their experience, so let's make it as personal and meaningful an experience as possible. Give technology a true sense of purpose beyond functionality, automation and productivity.

These are new times that create one New economy.

There will always be something new.

We will continue to develop.

There is always disruption on the horizon.

If we keep people at the center of all this, we are in the right place. We are centered. We are connected.

Change the way you see the world

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Find out what is wrong with this world and see it for its possibilities. You are not alone in this effort. I'm here. My entire network of close colleagues and friends is here with you too.

There is a silver lining to all of this.

We can change things going forward if we really want to.

This is exactly the time to see through all that is wrong in the world, to see what is possible and better for everyone, where there is opportunity and where you can play a role in leading transformation.


This isn't just a moment to get to the next normal, it's a moment to further build out our new trajectory and bring to life the ideas and desires we've always hoped were possible.

The future isn't what it used to be, it just isn't. And I think that's the silver lining for all of us. We now have a say in what happens next. Take it.

You are the architect of a future that did not exist a few years ago. I think you can show the way. I believe others will follow because they believe in your vision for a better future. Honestly, I'm excited to see what you do next.


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