INSIGHTS: Transformational Times Call for Transformational Change

Please welcome guest blogger, Giles Hutchins, as he shares with Strategic Sustainability Consulting readers his take on the “Firm of the Future.”

Due to a ‘perfect storm’ of economic, social and environmental factors, our business landscape is becoming increasingly more volatile.

The pace of change is becoming faster and only set to increase. To succeed we must be agile, creative, alert, spontaneous and responsive – operating in completely new ways. Today’s rapidly changing business environment calls for businesses that thrive in rapidly changing environments: businesses more akin to living systems that can learn and adapt, not structured and silo’ed, stifling learning and agility; businesses that are bottom-up, decentralised, interdependent, multifunctional, emergent, self-organizing units, not centralised, top-down, hierarchical monoliths.

Put simply, the business models and management approaches that served us well in the past, are no longer fit for purpose in a business context where dynamic change is the ‘new norm’. Organisations that are able to ‘let go’ of old business paradigms, having the courage to embrace new ways of operating whilst dealing with the pressing short-term issues of today, shall be the ones who can weather the storm, adapting to seek out opportunities in these volatile times. Other organisations, fearfully clinging to practices that are no longer fit for purpose for the times within which we now operate, shall struggle to cope with the level of change ahead.

The years ahead to 2020, in this Decade of Creative Destruction & Reconstruction, shall bear witness to the wheat being separated from the chaff - organisations who ‘get it’ adapting and evolving, and those that do not perishing or being acquired. Bold ‘Firms of The Future’ shall start to unlock the creative potential of their own workforce, their partners and communities they serve, initiating positive virtuous cycles of collaboration, innovation and value creation for all stakeholders; improved value, higher margins and higher well-being the result.

As Dawn Vance, Global Supply Chain Director at Nike succinctly puts it:

‘Organizations have 3 options:

  1. Hit The Wall;
  2. Optimize and delay hitting the wall; or
  3. Redesign for Resilience – simultaneously optimizing existing networks whilst creating disruptive innovations and working collaboratively with partners.’

It is this ‘redesigning for resilience’ which drives the transformation from a Firm of The Past to a Firm of The Future. The Firm of the Future is one that:

»» Drives transformation through values-based leadership and stakeholder empowerment using the catalysts of education, innovation, inspiration and collaboration;

»» Encourages synergies across its business ecosystem, engaging with multiple stakeholders in an open, transparent way; where common values create connections enabling mutualism;

»» Harnesses the power of social networks and the ‘pull’ media; uses crowd sourcing, co-creation, open source collaboration platforms and transparent branding for differentiation;

»» Evolves ecological thinking for innovating and new ways of operating and generation value for every stakeholder within the community it serves; where waste equals food and nature inspires the people, processes and products.

Giles Hutchins is global director for sustainability solutions at AtoS, and co-founder of BCI: Biomimicry for Creative Innovation