Flourish into the Future

by Janice Giannini

With a deep mastering at the intersection of IT and business strategy, consultant, board adviser and former C-suite executive, Janice has been harnessing the true power of IT for more than 30 years. An Executive and Board-level digital strategist at the intersection of risk and IT, she enhances competitive position through vision and equity with large-scale risk identification, quantification and mitigation in an ever-changing marketplace, generating long-term value for clients. She engages with senior executives and teams, particularly in complex businesses where misalignment is blocking their desired success, to develop and execute practical business strategies and plans. Clients have found her especially helpful when they recognize they must integrate an eagle's eye and worm's eye view in order to identify and remove obstacles. Janice has consistently taken on those challenges that others chose to run from. This typically involves those challenging times when failure is not an option and integrating business, technology and people changes must be accomplished simultaneously. As a result, many of her clients are complex organizations who won't settle for anything less than developing widespread professional competence.

I recently read the book The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore. To be presumptuous and summarize 350 pages in a few sentences, the essence of the book is that goods and services are no longer enough. The authors hypothesize that there is a progression of economic value that correlates price, competitive position (i.e., differentiation), and customers' needs.

The evolutionary stages of an economy, in order, are:

  • Discover and extract commodities
  • Develop and make goods
  • Create and deliver services
  • Stage experiences
  • Determine and guide transformation

A clear example used in the book to illustrate this progression of economic value is a child's birthday party. Each successive stage increases the value:

  • Using ingredients to make the cake (commodities)
  • Using a cake mix (goods)
  • Buying finished cakes (services)
  • "Outsourcing" parties (experience)

To apply this more broadly, we are currently in an experience and transformation economy. Some companies are farther ahead than others. Some industries are farther ahead than others.

I share this with you because every day we are hired by CEOs and their teams who are focused on the future and stuck in the present. Here are some examples:

  • Work is not getting done in a timely manner with the quality needed
  • Costs are rising
  • Revenue is not growing at an acceptable pace
  • Clients are satisfied (perhaps even loyal), but internally things feel like a mess
  • People you don't want to lose are leaving
  • Morale is suffering

We frequently see companies trying to grow both revenue and profits based on economic and cultural models that were appropriate in the past. Does this apply to you and your business? Consider that if the economic-value theory is on target, then a better way to grow your company is to evolve into the experience and transformation economy, which is sustainable.

You must start by examining how the experience economy applies to your business. Your initial response may be that you are not interested in entertaining people, but understand that experience is not about entertaining. Experience is about fully engaging people, with as many of their senses as possible.

Next, ask yourself how you can begin developing business leaders who can step into this thought model to create a leader experience, an individual contributor experience, and a customer experience. Clearly, those leaders will need to be:

  • Future focused
  • Relationship focused
  • Connections focused (rather than 'It's not what you know, it's who you know," think "It's not who you know, but how their senses are engaged with you")
  • Comfortable with stepping outside their comfort zone
  • Able to fully exploit the strengths of an integrated leadership team

So, what are the obvious areas where this applies today? I believe it applies to all business teams to varying degrees. It absolutely applies to teams focused on technology, from IT, biotech, and pharma to the technical widget makers/inventors of the world.

How do I know this? Because the process to become exceptionally good in a particular technical expertise does not always allow for taking in experience and engaging the senses. The processes of inductive and deductive reasoning are based on analytics, not on engaging as many senses as possible. As a result, it may be more difficult to develop a constructive tension between the hard technology and the experience model.

Where do we go from here? I invite you to start your journey by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you want to be relevant, or is it acceptable to get sidelined as increasingly irrelevant as time passes?
  • What is stopping you from investing in yourself and your leadership abilities to move to the experience economy and become transformative?

The path is clear.