We finally entered the first year of the twentieth first century. It took 20 years for the new century to arrive. There will be a clear line in people’s minds, the old world and the new one. Even things that occurred 2 or 3 years ago seem completely distant and less relevant. In the business world, it’s pretty clear that we are not going back to the old ways of doing things. Widespread consumer adoption of these technologies surely helped propel this conversation to the forefront but the underlying trends were already occurring. There are so many interesting things happening in every sector of the economy which are occurring due to three key trends.
Reduction of costs
Technology has a tendency to reduce the cost of stuff. Take the example of launching an ecommerce website. It went from $100K to $30 in 20 years. The same trend will be replicated in the physical world in spaces like biotech to manufacturing. The public cloud has enabled experimentation and access on a global scale.
The reduction of cost makes everything more accessible. We’re seeing an explosion of creative ingenuity across the world because people can now access information and the best tools for almost no cost. No one has a monopoly on innovation, so we can expect more cool projects/companies/ideas from everywhere in the world.
Making everything programmable
As we move more workloads into the digital realm, we can increasingly make things programmable. In the digital world, it’s happening really quickly with APIs for instance. We are also seeing it increasingly in the physical world with the development of vaccines for instance. There’s exciting developments in basically every sector. This phenomenon has been described as software eating the world. I like to think of it as the deployment age. It’s as if we invented electricity 30 years ago and we’re now starting to deploy it across every field of human activity.
Rate of change
The fundamental impact of this sea change is that how we work is rapidly changing. There’s some surface level stuff like remote work and tools we use but there’s some deeper level shifts around our relationship with work and what we value. It’s above my pay grade to predict what might happen. It just seems clear to me that many variables are changing at the same time and that the rate of change is only accelerating.
Adapting how we work
The idea we had when starting our company was simple. Companies hadn’t yet figured out how to operate in a world that is constantly changing at an increasing pace. There was no effective method on how to adapt your strategy on a regular basis. Except for government granted monopolies, the old world of sustained competitive advantage (if it ever existed) is now pretty much gone. So we believe that the only way forward for an organization to succeed is to be adaptable.
Our razor thin slice of knowledge
At first, we applied the principles of agile into the process of strategic planning. Most companies focus on having the right strategy but pay scarce attention to how they are executing it. By combining both, we were able to measure how people are working towards their strategic goals. Even after a few years, I’m quite surprised to see that it’s such a nascent space. The popularity of things like OKRs have increased alongside other tools but the specific area of strategy execution is largely blank.
People + Software
We’re a professional services firm but we believe that the future of service lies in software. We developed our own software platform to be able to measure the velocity of execution and alignment of a leadership team. Breaking down these two concepts a bit further, velocity of execution looks at how effectively a team delivers on their strategic plan. Alignment measures how closely that team not only understands the broader goal but also the road to get there.
We believe this approach delivers value for all the people involved, from employees, executives, board members and investors. It just makes more sense to me that you would want to measure and quantify progress on completing your strategic plan. It not only allows you to know if you’re going to complete your plan on time but also to adapt it.
It’s an exciting space with many opportunities to innovate and make the future of work, work better. Even though we’ve been working at it for a while now, it finally seems that we’re past the point no return.