Unavoidable Trends

Unavoidable Trends That Cannot Be Ignored

C-suite leaders today are grappling with the most tumultuous and unpredictable business landscape in history. The struggle for all organizations to stay relevant is real. We believe there are unavoidable trends impacting every industry and happening inside every organization that cannot be ignored.

In every engagement we deliver, we surface the following trends and help apply them to the challenges and opportunities facing our clients’ organizations.

  • Culture is a performance differentiator. Culture is a competitive advantage that drives performance and profitability. But for many organizations, there is a huge gap between their current culture and a high-performing one. According to a recent Duke University study, 91% of executives believe that culture is important, but only 15% say their culture is where it should be. Today’s leaders must be “culture curators” who manage this gap by measuring their culture and making bold improvements to engage employees, drive performance, and build strong brands.
  • Your value proposition is your “why.” What is your organization’s value proposition? Do you know why it exists? If you don’t, you can’t expect anyone else to care — including your employees. Today, more employees than ever are clamoring to work for organizations with strong value propositions, and hyper-informed consumers are increasingly selective in their purchasing decisions, often looking for products and services with a double or triple bottom line. Knowing your “why” creates purpose, alignment, and inspiration for employees and customers.
  • Millennials are a really big deal. We’re in the midst of a huge demographic shift. By 2025, Millennials will comprise 75% of the United States workforce. These individuals, born between 1980 and 2000, are the largest generation in U.S. history and the most racially and ethnically diverse. Millennials — who embody the collaborative, civic-minded, and entrepreneurial mindset of the hero archetype — also change jobs at the highest rate in history, posing an enormous challenge to the old guard’s ability to engage and retain talented employees and develop their next generation of leaders. To combat their propensity for job change, organizations and their leaders must engage Millennials by creating a value proposition and culture that reflects their values and behaviors.
  • Technology and automation are big disruptors. Code is replacing inefficient and error-prone humans in the form of new machines, platforms, and apps. This gradual crescendo of automation, artificial intelligence, and the corresponding fear that these changes evoke is affecting all types of organizations. But as chess has taught us, machines are most powerful when they are used in conjunction with human intelligence. Leaders must recognize that the best use of technology is not to replace humans but to enhance their unique capabilities in ways that create value for customers. To get the most out of humans (and the technology that they use), leaders must also create a culture of learning and innovation that assuages employees’ fears and empowers them to embrace change.
  • Only the agile and adaptive will survive. As the external environment becomes more prone to disruption, the rhythm of the classic “five-year strategic plan” is increasingly irrelevant, and rigid leadership structures are no longer practical as they too often fail to harness growth and agility. Growth is achieved by nimble teams that exploit market insights, deploy products and services quickly, and recognize that “long-term sustainable advantages” are fleeting at best. As General Stanley McChrystal conveys in his book, Team of Teams, only the adaptive will survive. To harness the true potential of your organization, you must democratize decision-making, empower your people, and move from a centralized organization to a team of teams. You must also foster a culture that enables risk-taking and supports innovation by celebrating employees who try new things, “fail fast,” learn, iterate, and improve.
  • Innovation is driven by customer focus. With the advent of the “recommendation engine,” companies such as Amazon and Netflix have redefined customers’ expectations of personalization and seamlessness. The future of growth and innovation lies with organizations like these that are relentlessly focused on gathering and leveraging data about their customers to create unique products and services that solve difficult problems and/or add significant value. To accomplish this, organizations must embark on “listening campaigns” to understand their customers and create cross-functional feedback loops that enable them to incorporate customer data into the design of their products and services.
  • Boards must reimagine their relevance. The pace of change is pushing all boards (of both for- and not-for-profit organizations) to perform under a spotlight of immense transparency and high expectations. Historically, boards have been in place to ensure executive accountability and to dispassionately “allocate resources” to achieve a mission — but how many of these boards truly perform at levels that exceed the sum of their individual parts and talents? In today’s environment, board members must be deeply “read in” to what the organization is doing. If they can’t provide their CEOs with original insights on the trends that matter and ideas and domain experience that mitigate risk and encourage constant innovation, they risk becoming irrelevant. For this reason, professional, full-time boards are now emerging, as part-time boards simply can’t keep up

THRUUE gave us focus and helped us to prioritize the immeasurable and innumerable things we could be doing, [illuminating] what mattered most and how to properly sequence [our priorities] so that we would be able to—sometime in our lifetime—achieve our ultimate vision for the organization.

Ellie Hollander
President and CEO, Meals on Wheels Association of America

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