Digital evolution: re-evaluating and unlearning as part of the path

Agile methodologies give digitally transformed organizations strength to evolve, but the path goes through constant re-evaluation of objectives and the ability to (un)learn with new players.

Being agile and fast are two different abilities. Both terms are often mixed up in this era of accelerated innovation. While the latter is related to quickness and speed, the former is more about changing direction, adapting, reducing inertia, and reacting to the unpredictable. This is why agility is so important to those organizations which want to transform, as well as evolve digitally. 

That is what the concept of Digital Evolution is all about. And that is why agile methodologies are so relevant —they provide tools that enable organizations to react when faced with changes in market direction, from the way they write code and conceive a digital product, to the way they manage the company.

In the latter case, agile methodologies can throw light on the path that takes to strategic objectives. However, these need to be often checked and re-evaluated to determine whether they’re still valid or need changes. That way objectives can be continually written, not rigidly set years beforehand.

It’s a very comprehensive view, but each subsequent action needs to be small, one step at a time. Results need to be constantly assessed and, after that, you still need to keep your business vision alive.

Cinq has recently gone through that. Our business vision included having a number of physical offices in Brazil and around the world, with standardized features. The pandemic called this vision into question when most employees started working remotely, so it had to be reconsidered.

In summary, OKRs are tools that bring agility to business management and are therefore part of the path to digital evolution. It’s not only a matter of survival, but also growth. Cost-cutting alone won’t save a traditional management model focused on efficiency, one needs to take a stand in any environment and whenever facing changes.

Diversity and reverse coaching

It’s evident that not all organizations will manage to evolve. Some will not accept the need for a new model to be able to do things differently and others will be incapable of unlearning, that is, abandon the way they have done things over the years, decades, even if that attained success at a point in time. However, opportunities are there for those who are open to change.

More traditional organizations adapt to this change by practicing reverse coaching — where instead of having someone more experienced transfer knowledge, teaching is done by new companies. If an organization normally hires providers who are highly specialized in their market segment, why not someone different?

A bank, for instance, does not need to hire providers specialized in the financial market. They would be hiring more of the same. Someone from outside the sector can bring a fresh perspective to business and help with the transformation. They are precisely the ones who will ask the hidden questions — the ones no one ever asks — and actually bring innovation. That’s why diversity is so important.

Although most businesses from all sectors are aware that there’s an urgent need for change, many times they lack the courage to really innovate. After all, they would have to leave their prior knowledge aside and be willing to put themselves out there to be able to relearn and create a culture of innovation.

But no one can either become agile, adapt, or evolve without that.

* Bill Coutinho is Transformation Director at Cinq

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