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2019 Transformation Trend: Use Vision To Make Your Strategy Stick

This article is part of our series about 2019 trends, predictions, and new opportunities. Click here for more.

Think about your current employer with a surgeon’s eye: It is quite easy to identify the people or departments who are the brains, eyes, muscle, and heart of the business. We, as businesses, are less the product of org charts and spreadsheets. Rather, we are more fundamentally defined by the human corpuscles pulsing around the arteries of our headquarters, stores, and offices.

This idea has been with me awhile and has impacted the way I think about transformation and the best way to deliver it. Let’s be clear: Transformation is tough, requiring complex humans, replete with emotions, ambitions, and habits, to adapt to a new way of working. That’s tough–and it should be–in the same way any personal transformation is tough. Just ask a dieter how hard it is to organize and discipline the brain, stomach, and taste buds to resist foods that are newly off-limits.

But what dieters and companies have in common is the ability to be inspired. We can’t pretend that every moment of a diet will be fun, but if we have the right goal in mind–the wedding dress, the 10K, the beach body–it can make the pain worthwhile. We will always know why we are doing it.

Companies are not that different. In my consulting work, I always love to see the energy and passion that so many teams have. Recently, I was working with a health plan company whose design team positively fizzed with pride about their mobile app’s performance. On another occasion, a client presented a new product to a partner with great satisfaction in what it had achieved in the design and build process.

So emotions are extremely significant in motivating every professional to fully apply themselves. How, then, can we leverage this trait in the long, arduous process of transformation when research indicates that over 50% of execs believe their companies are failing to deliver on their strategies?

A solution that helps galvanize and sustain action is to approach a transformation program through the lens of the emotional business. People want to feel their efforts are meaningful and that, at the end of the road, they will have achieved something of which they can be rightly proud. They want to feel they are headed to a destination that will say something about who they are, something which is, dare I say it, beautiful.

This is not easy to do, but when done right can achieve what many businesses find virtually impossible: the alignment of all C-level stakeholders around a common mission. On two recent occasions, I’ve met with businesses whose previous perfectly serviceable digital strategies failed to ignite simply because they had not aroused the interest and passion required to motivate colleagues to act.

The best way to secure this alignment is by providing vision. A vision offers a glimpse of a better future for a brand, its customers, and its employees. It shows how the business can serve its customers more seamlessly and effectively–how a brand can look, feel, and behave just right, for the right customers all the time. Critically, a well-developed vision nods to how each area of the client business contributes toward this vision (product, digital, marketing, retail, IT etc.) and paints a broad picture of the phases required to bring the goal within reach.

A vision should be high-gloss, high-production, and communicable through future-state journeys, prototypes, video, and office installations. It should be based on challenging but desirable experience pillars. Most of all, it should clearly reflect the needs of the customer and how the business will both meet and exceed them.

Developing a vision that pays off requires a perfect blend of right- and left-brain techniques–a precise understanding of the market context and the imagination to create a future that solves for it.

A good brand experience vision helps all stakeholders answer questions like: What would be the best possible customer experience? What does our future look like? How do we get out of this rut? These questions are intrinsically more interesting and their answers more likely to motivate than standard transformation thought-starters.

Knowing how to capture and harness the interest and passion that a business has for its customers and turn that into a compelling vision of the future is something digital and experience teams need to get good at in 2019. 

Developing a sound strategy is one thing, but making it stick is another.

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