Thriving in Uncertain Times

By: Team CI&T

 people chat around a table during a meeting
Posted on Oct 9, 2020

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to reverse processes that stagnate organizational growth.
  • How to rapidly establish a new mentality.
  • How to transform an organization's culture to integrate experimentation.

 


"We are experiencing the acceleration of a change that was already happening. And it makes us better at adapting. This virus helped build resilience in our structures, our organizations, and our society. I think it's an interesting time."
Bruno Guicardi, CI&T, Co-Founder and President

 


Living in constant uncertainty and change for months has led many traditional companies to look for strategic solutions that are both substantial and adaptable.

 

As a digital pioneer, CI&T deals with unpredictability as a matter of course. We can confidently say that remaining resilient in the face of uncertainty requires an organizational structure built on a solid foundation of adaptability, flexibility, collaboration, and agile methodologies.

 


"In a digital world, finding ways for traditional consumer goods companies, for example, to have direct access to consumers and consumer data, and to create better product and distribution strategies is an inherently tricky problem to solve due to uncertainties and unpredictability. We're intimately familiar with this situation because it's where we've focused as a company in recent years. So, we feel we have a solid foundation to support, help, and teach others."
Bruno Guicardi

 


This article discusses our experience dealing with these uncertainties for organizations looking to accelerate and amplify their digital transformation journeys in 2020. The insights and reflections offered here are based on a podcast discussion between Bob Wollheim, our CSO, and Bruno Guicardi, CI&T's Co-founder and President in the U.S. region. Bruno also shares his thoughts on new learnings arising not from the 'new normal,' but as he calls it, the 'abnormal.'

 

Reversing Processes

Over the years, many traditional companies successfully created digital divisions with multidisciplinary and agile collaborative teams. Their focus was to apply agile methodologies and a 'speed to market' approach to producing new ideas. Simultaneously, these companies' organizational structures continued to function in the 'traditional' way. New ideas that came from the agile teams, or directly from customer requests, would pass through the scrutiny of the company's upper echelons, who, in turn, would select a few product ideas to "have the honor" of being launched.

 

Following this outdated process could take months, and the consumer may have already changed his/her desire or turned to the competition. 

 

It's time to turn this process upside down. Operating digitally must become the foundation of the company and not just an innovation niche. Organizations must change the way they approve and finance these ideas, focusing on speed to market and delivering real value to customers. Not doing so is a losing proposition.

 

"We cannot be attached to ideas. If there is something you have invested in and it is not generating traction, kill it. The math in this equation is about starting small, having lots of ideas going on, and not giving any of them a lot of money. Just start small with each one and kill them early if they are not attractive. In this way, instead of just funding two big ideas that will consume all of my research and development and with which I did all my innovation, I'll finance 200 smaller ideas, and gradually I'll end up funding more hits."
Bruno Guicardi

 

The key idea here is experimentation. It's not about letting teams create hypotheses for solutions that deliver customer value and ask for authorization to bring them to market but to give the company real autonomy to work in a new agile and experimental way. 

 

Teams must be free to create new value propositions, test them with consumers, adjust or abandon those that fail, and try again in a continuous cycle. Fine-tuning side by side with the customer is the only feasible way to generate products, services, and experiences that delight and deliver impactful results.

 

"It is from experimentation that success comes. So, try many different things. This is the only way to get it right in an extremely uncertain world."
Bob Wollheim

 

"If you look at Google and Facebook, for example, they have a big list of product and service failures that were introduced in the last ten years, right? So, they have everything: access to talent, technology, and a great deal of data about us. They should know what people want. Despite having everything, they still fail. So, you see how difficult it has always been to compete in this digital world. And I think that the general role - even of the most traditional businesses - is to assume that we must experience unpredictability, uncertainty."
Bruno Guicardi

 

Rethink the company's culture toward experimentation

The urgency to change culture and structures for this operating logic fit your company is in place, but getting there is not a simple task. On the contrary, modifying an ingrained culture is a very complex task. The only way to accomplish it is to introduce, little by little, new practices that make sense and deliver better results than previous ones. This applies both to teams and for the company as a whole.

 

On the operational side, the value of new work processes is realized with the speed and ease at which teams work. The critical point is reducing bureaucratic and hierarchical barriers, allowing teams to generate solutions to customer problems and needs they see day-to-day.

 

The faster the business metrics move, the faster the board and C-level will look to deepen and expand this new way of working across the organization.


"If you implement these new ways of doing things, and discover that something works better than in the past, then you begin to structurally change the way the company operates, naturally and sustainably. But it has to be much better; otherwise, it won't be worth it. The change will not have the strength to happen."
Bruno Guicardi

 

According to Bruno, when it comes to cultural change, one particular point that should be stressed is developing leaders who are "educated in technology." Business leaders of the future must increasingly understand the opportunities and possibilities of new tools.

 

Becoming an expert is unnecessary, but having consistent knowledge and always seeking to update executives is necessary, "in the same way they understand marketing, accounting, HR and all the other disciplines necessary for a company to function." Senior executives must expand their skills and knowledge and understand the need to be continually learning.

 

Bruno was asked about the future, based on his extensive experience advising companies across the globe on the uncertainties of digital operations. His answer provides reassurance.

 

"Don't worry about what you don't control. And do the best you can with what you can control. Just accept the other things as they come. The less you wait, the better. Just expect the best from yourself and give it your all."
Bruno Guicardi

 

If you want to hear the entire chat content, access the podcast.