Over the last six months I’ve been training Digital ReinventionTM to IBMers around the world. What’s been so interesting to me is seeing just how different each market is. Different nuances. Different approaches and learning styles. Different cultural traits and idiosyncrasies. I thought I would take a moment to share with you some of my reflections on what I’ve observed over this period. Views mine.

It’s a journey

Digital Reinvention: more reinvention than digital. More organisational change than technology. More a shift in mindset. The business model we’ve had is shifting, shifting to something different

We are moving from disruption to reinvention

Going on a Digital Reinvention journey begins with shifting the way you think, not with building an app

What will be the trigger or event that gets you started on this journey? As a trainer you get to know some of these trigger points. You set them up in the hope that some may unwittingly accept the offer of help. Once accepted, there is no turning back


Big Ideas are difficult. What does one look like?

We set out to generate Big Ideas. The unfortunate thing is that we fail to recognise our Big Ideas are in fact small ideas

Big Ideas are simple and elegant. We inevitably try to overcomplicate them

When thinking about an idea you need to understand whether it is set within the context of the company and what it currently does, whether it’s informed by the opportunities and threats that exist within the context of the industry the company currently operates in or whether the idea goes even further across industries. One is an incremental change, the other is what we call a Big Idea

Incremental ideas form the bridges to Big Ideas that ultimately may disrupt existing models

In order to set a Big Idea free you need to uncouple it from what you do today. The big mistake people make is to ideate in terms of what they do today. To do so limits the idea, restricts it, stifles it, binds it to the here and now. You simply end up with incremental ideas that might streamline existing processes and operations, but won’t change the world

Language & meaning

Do you speak the same language as each other? As your client? Do you operate by the same rules of engagement? Or do you just make assumptions?

Companies need to define a common language or taxonomy for themselves and their clients. Digitise, digitalise, digital transformation, digital reinvention. Digital has become a word like – authentic, collaboration, transparency. Overused, but rarely defined. You might just as well replace it with apple, lemonade or egg

Digital is a catch-all that almost just means – what I currently don’t do, regardless of whether that is online, mobile or in the physical world. Sometimes it represents the idea of improvement, modernisation or just gaining parity with what other companies are doing, other times it represents disruption or future survival


Digital Reinvention is about people. The way people engage. The way people work. The way people communicate. It’s about our individual and collective ability to adapt to a shift

Organisations don’t reinvent, people do. Game-changers don’t disrupt, people do

Everyone is different. That is the challenge. Moving at different speeds. Some more accepting of change. More open to disruption. As a trainer you have to adapt to different speeds and levels of acceptance. As a trainer you also have to accept that no matter how hard you try some will never cross the bridge. Some can’t even see the bridge


Can’t escape the word! The word forces me to recognise that I can no longer succeed, exist, survive on my own

The corporate monolith is no longer the centre of your own reality. You are just another player in an interconnected web of players

The idea of the platform is now instrumental

Context and value are key in a world of partnerships. A world where a partner can just as easily be a competitor

How well do you understand your ecosystem? How well do you understand the value chains that bind that ecosystem together? What is your currency?


People assume they can tell stories. But end up listing a set of features and functions. A workflow mistaken for an experience. A persona becomes hijacked and ends up taking on the personality and language of the company they are trying to break free from. The tragedy is that they’re not even aware they’re doing it…

Being able to tell a story sets you free from features and functions. It sets you free from solution-speak. It empowers you to solicit empathy. It enables you to take me on a journey. Do you know any stories to tell me? Are you confident enough to tell me a story and take me on a journey?

Confidence is key. Are you confident enough to do things in a different way? To tell a different story or even just to tell a story… it’s difficult. Really difficult. Tomorrow you’ll just go back to doing what you did last week. Digital Reinvention a simple blip for you. A box ticked and forgotten. On to the next thing


Probably the most difficult question to answer… can you?