Dave’s A to Z of business transformation

So, there we were, just working through a daily challenge when someone asks if there is a simple, easy to understand guide to business transformation and innovation: a dummies guide, an A to Z perhaps.

That’s it, there may not be, but there could be. I set myself a challenge of producing an A to Z on this topic. I did this a while back, but as ever times change and wow, have they changed over the last two years.

So, here goes….

Advertise. There is no way transformation can happen in secret. You need to inform the right audience at the right time. Advertise what you are doing to your staff and your customers. Don’t just tell folks in an email. Advertising is a way of selling something, so you should sell the initiative, the transformation, the innovation. Advertise it properly, and dare we say be ambitious.

Bravery. Be brave, use words like great, best, ground-breaking in your ambitions. Strive to get things done differently. Be brave! Reach for the stars. Nobody wants yet another boring IT project! Bravery could be applied to a new more agile workforce with less office space now that we are all used to working from home.

Critique. It’s important to critique where needed on two fronts. One, be critical of your own ideas and work. Two, be critical of others, but for goodness’ sake do it nicely.

Creative. One we like is the ability to be creative, so we are adding this to the 2021 list. We believe that when people get together and given freedom, they bring a sense of creativity to the table. Try it. Ask people to come up with new ways of doing something, and you may just be surprised.

Dare to be great, dare to be different. Dare to be leaders in your craft. In the old days housing was just housing, with very little stepping outside the comfort zone. Now there is every chance to dare to be better, dare to be different. Look at the retail sector, look at other sectors who have embraced change.

Engage. You can’t do everything on your own. You will need to engage others. Again, there is a right way and a wrong way to engage others. Win them over. Be enthusiastic but not overly so.

Freedom. You need freedom to think differently. This does not mean you set up a team in a basement never to be bothered. No, it means thinking space, time, or simply a structure that allows creativity and decision making to be less burdensome.

Great – Be great. Dare to be great. I love this. You should as we said earlier reach for the stars, but I love it when folks show off (again not in a condescending way, but a nice respectful way). Sometimes greatness comes from those who are quiet. The results show, not the individual. So, why not be great? Why not strive to be the best?

Honesty. Be honest with yourself. Do what you can, don’t do what you can’t. However, if you need to stretch outside your comfort zone, engage others. Be honest in identifying your weaknesses and be honest with others.

Ingenious. Why not go that extra mile and be ingenious? You thought we would say innovation didn’t you. Strive to be really clever in what you are trying to do. Bring people together and dare (we used that before; see its making sense now) to be

Jubilation. Celebrate your successes. When something is completed, whether a stage, a specific outcome or an overall project, your celebrations will be noticed if done properly. People will know you believe and see your joy. Its infections. Just don’t run about the office naked saying we did it, we did it!

Karma. (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences. The point here is that transformation and certainly innovation is a constant and never a one off. So, do well in one and the karma will stick with you on the next.

Link. Don’t be tempted to think you are the only ones who can deliver this thing. Use others, ask others and as we said earlier engage. A great trick here is to link to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Alastair in finance and Sarah in repairs may just have an idea that will change your thinking.

Mad. Be a little mad. I love the mad professor icon. Heinz Wolf was one of my heroes growing up. Now, be careful.       Mad ideas can save lives, can better living, and even change the world. Be careful however, mad ideas have their place, so chose them wisely. You would trust Heinz Wolf to invent something amazing like he did, but would you trust him to run the country?

Never as your first answer say No without consideration. There are strange beings amongst us who seem to like saying no to things without thinking it through. Banish such thinking. Every ‘no’ needs at least two reasons to be accepted.

Originality. Being original is very hard these days. However, you can be original in your application of an old idea.You can also be original in your approach. And if you do have an original idea then sell it like we said at the start. Advertise it.

Project Methodology – Don’t overdo it. Don’t let your transformation project be run by the mechanics of project management methodology. There is a place for it. But don’t let the tail wag the dog. Use it, but don’t let it take over the common sense, the experts, the innovators.

Quantitate – determine the quantity or extent of (something in numerical terms); quantify. There is always a space for calculating how far you take something, so never be scared to get technical and quantify the scale of something.

Rip things up if they don’t work. Sometimes things don’t work. It’s a fact! However, the secret is not to linger on them. Rip it up and start again, as the great Orange Juice sang.

Silo – I have probably used this word more over the years than any other word when dealing with business change in Social Housing. Departments and groups acting in silo’s and not seeking much interaction outside that comfortable bubble can be very dangerous. Entice them out of their silo.

Trump Card. Whatever you do, never behave like Donald Trump. However, there is a trick to the traditional trump card. Have a trick up your sleeve. Your trump card is that something special that is going to ensure you convince the doubters, you sway the ‘on the fence’ folks and you motivate the team when needed.

Versatility can be very powerful. People who can swap from one disciple to another can be great assets to a transformational programme. Use them to bounce ideas around. Ask them to check theories and to test things.

Wow factor. When something works that is that little bit different, that little bit unusual it can have the wow factor. Folks will say wow, I really didn’t think that would work. Some may say ‘wow, that has really changed my life’, or the way they think about something. Like we said earlier, do not be afraid of creating something cool, something amazing. Dare to be different.

Xenophile A person who has a love of foreign people and culture. A person with an interest in celebrating people’s differences. Now what better way of describing the culture of transformation and innovation. Embrace culture even if it is not what you are used to.

Youth. Always a favourite of mine. Involve younger folk. You will be amazed at how much they can contribute, how much energy they have for change and how you can help them help you shape the future.

Zeitgeist. The zeitgeist (German pronunciation /ˈtsaɪtɡaɪst/ Zeitgeist (help·info)) is a concept from eighteenth- to nineteenth-century German philosophy, meaning “spirit of the age” or “spirit of the times”

You can create your own Zeitgesit. At DtL Creative we are creating a space for innovation in the Blue Banana initiative.  We hope this will be the spirit of the times. Create a lab, create a movement.

Any suggestions help us add them and make this a bigger guide.