“Digital transformation” is becoming the newest mantra of business leaders. Companies initiate digital transformation programs in order to optimize their existing business model, but often do not follow through, leaving the innovative potential of information technologies untouched. A recent survey found that fully two-thirds of the respondents strongly agreed with the statement that "[d]igital technologies have the potential to fundamentally transform the way people in their organization work.” However, the same survey indicated that the greatest barriers to leveraging the potential of digital technologies came from not "[k]nowing the business and being able to conceptualize how digital technologies can impact current business processes/models" (44%) and low "[w]illingness to experiment and take risks" (44%).
Many established businesses are facing the challenge of being transformed by massive changes in advanced information technologies, the availability of cheap money, and the emergence of groups of buyers. In order to successfully scope with these new paradigms, organizations need to establish a permanent 'innovation capability' that goes far beyond existing Research and Development (R&D) and Ideas Management activities.
The past century has witnessed unprecedented economic growth and human prosperity. At the same time, most mindful people today recognize that the world faces many serious challenges. Among the most pressing are increasing population growth and the effect that this has on the planet when combined with the forces of the consumer society.
We are living in truly exciting times. We have the capital, knowledge, and technology to shape a future where the planet thrives, where human creativity and collaboration can flourish, and where society is stable and prosperous. One of the drivers of this development is technology. It has always been an enabler of societal change and it will also play a pivotal role in our transition to a stable and sustainable future.
The world around us is comprised of systems – organizational systems, business systems, political systems, family systems, inter-personal systems, biological systems, economic systems – and thus the list continues. It has been said that systems thinking is one of the key management competences of the 21st century. As our work becomes ever more tightly interwoven globally and as the pace of change continues to increase, we will all need to become increasingly “system-wise.”
Today’s organizations are more technically capable and more economically efficient than ever before, and free market efficiencies are being realized in more and more countries around the world. However, in many cases organizations are intensifying economic inequity and are eroding critical environmental systems.
For most of my career I have been interested in sustainability initiatives
After over 40 years of experience with environmental issues and regulations, it is probably safe to say that most firms do at least an acceptable job of compliance with the letter of the law. Some few are leaders that go beyond that required by law, but by and large the majority are content to play a reactive role. There are many explanations for why firms take this stance in the face of the most important challenge confronting the world today.
The years following the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) saw a dramatic increase in regulatory and institutional structures designed to address the environmental problem. In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency was established in December 1972 to “consolidate in one agency a variety of federal research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection,” (www.EPA.gov/about EPA/EPA – history).