It’s clear that driving digital reinvention and becoming a true cognitive enterprise – one that is combining AI with data and applying this to customer journeys, core processes and workflows – is as much about people with the right skills as it is about technology.
If the Cognitive Enterprise is the destination IBM Garage is the accelerator, enabling innovation at the speed of a start up with the scale of an enterprise. Over 500 businesses around the world have chosen, to utilise IBM Garage Methodology to co-create, co-execute and co-operate new business initiatives at accelerated pace; de-risking innovation and most importantly enabling benefits from a continuous learning environment.
The ‘Co-Create, Co-Execute, Co-Operate’ is a very important ethos. It means bringing best people and technology from across the industry to collaborate in a way that drives transformation at scale.
As leaders, how do you get people to think differently, see the future reality and confidently walk towards it together on this journey towards the cognitive enterprise? There are three areas relating to people and culture that are fundamental based on my conversations with clients here in AP and IBM’s own transformation:
Start with the WHY
Uniting a team around a single-minded purpose and desire to deliver the best possible customer experience, whether an internal or external customer, has to be the first priority. This then in turn leads to reengineering internal processes and business workflows whilst increasing the willingness to adopt new ways of working.
Take HDFC Ergo. The ‘why’ for India’s third largest non-life insurance provider was ensuring faster turnaround time of customer queries while drawing deeper customer insights for a better omni channel experience.
And in the energy sector, the ‘why’ for another AP client was to launch a challenger business, hence they need a platform to rapidly test and learn to achieve product market fit.
This purpose also acts to bring people together around a problem, breaking down barriers between departments and encouraging open collaboration.
Create ‘a space’ and ‘the space’ to succeed
As leaders, creating the right physical environment, as well as ways of working and principles that provide a framework while encouraging freedom, are key to success.
The IBM Garage experience can happen anywhere in the world, in dedicated IBMspaces or client offices or even virtual environments. Inside the Garage, teams – or ‘Squads’ – comprised of IBM’ers, clients and ecosystem partners Co-Create new ideas. They rapidly test their value; ruthlessly deciding whether to discard or advance ideas that then become key business initiatives.
These squads Co-Execute the initiatives, rapidly iterating until they achieve product market fit to ultimately Co-Operate and scale these new products, services or businesses into the market.
Your founding squad is key. Breadth and depth of skills and expertise – individuals who are T-shaped and have a willingness to continually learn and even unlearn – can bring real advantage.
For example, you need to be able to give your founding squad a business problem without prescribing solution as well as the space to teach and be taught as part of the way they work every day. Affording them this new way of working and its associated capital structure will really increase your speed to value.
Embrace and nurture diversity
As the HDFC Ergo example shows, IBM with the client mobilized a highly diverse team –including insurance industry experts, Designer, Data Scientists, Developers and more, to rapidly develop, test and deploy innovative automation experiments and solutions in a continuous delivery model. In fact, I took a similar approach to accelerating IoT innovation when I established the IBM Watson IoT Business.
Maximising diversity of experience as well as gender, generational and skills’ diversity is vital to de-risking innovation. Within my IBM AP leadership team, our own reverse mentoring initiative with 50 millennials has been hugely powerful to changing how we work and think together. And, increasingly we are being asked to design reverse mentoring workshops and programs for clients across a range of sectors.
Finally, senior leaders need to be involved from the onset to help Co-Create the art of the possible, with their teams. In partnership with Korean multi-national Lotte, we ran a number of early Design Thinking sessions, which included Lotte senior executives, looking at how we could use the data with Watson to create that unique customer journey, always aligned to the ‘why’ of creating the ultimate customer experience.
I’ll be writing more on this ‘Co-Create, Co-Execute, Co-Operate’ approach and leading teams on the journey to the Cognitive Enterprise. I’d love to hear what you’d like to hear more about. Please leave your comments below. In the meantime, you can learn more about the IBM Garage here.