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  • Hugo Immink

Are you ready to ´install´ a new version of your business model?

Is it me just getting older or do I find it increasingly harder to keep up with all the new technologies around me? At home. At work. Everywhere.

Depends on the view of course. My Dad has just found out how whatsapp worked and how to send pictures. See? I am not doing that bad. Then again, two years ago my then 12 year old niece asked me why I was still on Facebook as this was 'so 2014!', whilst snapchatting away with her friends.

Adopting and adapting

If you really think about it, it's not so much about adopting, but rather adapting to new technologies. If you don't adapt, you will get increasingly frustrated. Not adopting is even worse, you might as well go back underneath that stone.

Old versus new 'Operating System'

With the dying spasms of the industrial era almost behind us, what can we expect from the digital era, and particularly on the way business is run nowadays? Our current business models are still running on an outdated operating system: pretty much command and execute. They are no longer valid. Why? Managers telling is now leadership selling. 'You need our product!' has become 'Do you need our product?'. Fair enough trade is very slowly evolving in only fair trade. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Generation purpose

Then there is the new generation entering the labour market. They don't want to be told. They want to be sold. On the why, on impact, with whom they work with. Customers no longer just want to buy products or services. They want to have a voice in how these products and service can be designed so they can enjoy them even more. We see TED and bloggers talk about these topics with much zest. So co-creation and stakeholder experience is the new order.

The impact of not updating

The new operating system is ready to be installed but the top dogs in many companies are keen to hit the 'remind me later' option when prompted by the new system to update. Short term shiny figures still win over the early but sharp shadows of the new reality.

The new system will not stop sending new notifications however. In fact, they will be irritatingly more frequent and intense every time the Boomers hit it. And if the procrastination option is used for too long, just like the smart phone, business will get slower and slower over time, until... Is this what the C-suite wants?

How to adapt to the new era

So how should businesses adapt to the new reality? There are a few options available:

1. Bolt on elements of the new system to the existing one. I don't think this is the solution. You see this happening already. Most companies have the so called 'Window dressing' department (often called HR) that frantically execute initiatives based on critical voices coming from employees, the market and society at large that are hard to ignore but are mistaken for trends. 'Let's do something with employee engagement!' or 'Let's donate to some poor country in Africa'. These window dressing initiatives all have one thing in common which is the 'let them eat cake' effect they have. It works, but it is very much short-lived. Besides, people can smell a dead rat from a mile's distance...With doubtful intents the old system will prevail.

2. Change to the new system overnight. Remember that back in the eighties we all managed to switch from MS-DOS to windows 1.0. How did we do this? We did not have much choice. Correction: Microsoft did not give us much choice. It stopped supporting MS-DOS after a certain period of time (when the laggards finally adopted the newer version). Which makes me think. What if obsolete business models were no longer supported at some point? That would create urgency. Safe playing senior management would sweat their pants in the boardroom I have no doubt.

A solution

I would like to think there is an intermediate solution whereby obsolete parts of the old system are slowly but surely replaced by more functional parts, driven by the younger generation. In fact, there needs to be a continuous, constant interaction between the different generations. Every older generation needs to (humbly) look

at the younger generation and ask the following question: what can I Iearn from this generation to stay relevant in my business? Younger generations should (also humbly) look up and ask: what can I Iearn to become recognised as relevant in this industry?

The question is: Is your business ready to install the new version? Or you like the 'remind me later' button way too much?

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