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  • Writer's pictureOliver Nowak

Why you Can’t Manipulate Transformation

Why are your customers your customers?

Why are your employees your employees?

If you don’t have a simple answer to these questions, don’t worry, you’re in the majority. But, consider this, how are you supposed to attract more customers or more employees if you don’t know the answers to these questions?

In other words, the majority of leaders are running their businesses on guesses, and at best, educated guesses rather than with clarity and focus. Evidence of these guesses are everywhere you look. With no specific identity, businesses are forced to use tactical manipulations to attract new customers to buy their products or new employees to work in their business. Be that through price discounts, or higher salaries; loyalty points, or extra annual leave for years of service. They’re all the same.

But the issue is, once you start playing that game, there’s no turning back. It’s like an addiction, and before you know it, the game is playing you. Think about it, discount once and you’ll be discounting forever. The first discount is enough to attract the customer over to you, but unless you give them any other reason to stay, you’ll have to continue discounting over and over again just to keep them. Now it’s simply a race down to the bottom and in the long term you lose orders of magnitude more than you ever gained.

However, if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s the world we live in today. Businesses are run to drive demand, not loyalty. Politicians fight to get into office, not stay in office. Everything is tactical rather than strategic. There’s no trust, no leadership and no inspiration. It’s no way to live, constantly worrying about what the future holds for your business - are your competitors going to price you out of the market with their next release? Are your customers going to find someone else to buy your product from tomorrow?

When it comes to digital transformation, it’s exactly the same. Technology leaders are forced to go down the road of instant results through tactical change projects. It’s impulsive, addictive behaviour. We want results tomorrow, regardless of the detrimental impact these tactical initiatives are having in the long term. But it’s just the price game all over again. Before you know it you’re in a spiral of decline all the way down to the bottom. Don’t confuse novelty with innovation or change with transformation. They’re not the same. You can’t manipulate them.

So to this I say, let’s remove the paranoia of short term gratification and instead give ourselves the peace of mind of a little more perspective. And let’s be honest, with a whole economy and all of society focusing on the short term, just by even considering the long term you would be, by definition, transformative. Real innovation and real transformation is all about changing the very fabric of the world that we live in today, that is never going to happen through manipulation.

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