well as being a partner in nexxworks – the innovation firm that he runs with Rik Vera, Steven Van Belleghem and Annick Vandezande – Peter Hinssen also works as a coach for various startups in Europe and the US. There, in particular, he was struck by a major shift.
“In the last century, it was a great asset to be a big company, because then you could play on your scale and efficiency. But today we live in a totally different world. Technology is evolving faster than we ever thought possible. This rapid technological development is now changing business models and consumer behavior, too. That’s a big problem for large companies, because they are far too unwieldy. SMEs find it much less burdensome. Because if there is one thing an SME can do, it’s to be fast and agile.”
But most SMEs are not yet ready for these changes at the moment. “Most companies are far too busy putting right the mistakes of the past – The Shit of Yesterday – and concentrating on what needs to happen today. Whereas they should be focusing on The Day After Tomorrow.”
“These days, there are tons of e-mails sitting in your inbox when you restart work on a Monday morning. The concept of ‘tomorrow’ is usually about the budgets for next year. But ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ is about the ideas, concepts, technologies and business models that can generate huge long-term value for companies and their staff. The Day After Tomorrow can radically change your current activities and offers you the chance to reinvent yourself.”
“The ideal distribution is to spend 70% of your time on today, 20% on tomorrow and 10% on the day after tomorrow. Lots of people have good intentions about this when they leave for work on that Monday morning. But by the end of the week, they have to concede that the distribution has been more like 93%, 7% and 0%. They have wasted a lot of time on today and put a great deal of effort into tomorrow, but really this tomorrow is mostly an extrapolation of the past. That is a very dangerous situation, because The Day After Tomorrow is approaching faster than ever.”
“In the past, the business manager was not concerned with technology. Entrepreneurs are usually experienced in finance, administration, business processes and quality. But you often see that technology is a bit of a blind spot. You can’t afford that anymore. It is absolutely essential to use modernizing technology. Ignoring it is simply not an option.” “The funny thing is that today’s entrepreneurs frequently have children who are in their teens and twenties. These young people are often more familiar with technology than the business leader.
I see that as a golden opportunity to look through the eyes of this ‘digital generation’ at consumer trends and to what extent they still correspond to your own offering. In actual fact, business leaders already have all this knowledge literally in house.” Make sure you pick up on these trends and innovations and use them to prepare for The Day After Tomorrow. This is crucial in order to be able to survive in the long term. It simply requires a little will and discipline.
Founder and partner of nexxworks
Author of ‘Business/IT Fusion’, ‘The New Normal’ and ‘The Network Always Wins’
Lecturer at the London Business School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston
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