Businessmen making plan on glass wall in office

How to Build Your Plan for Becoming a 21st Century Organization

In our recently published report, Winning in the 21st Century, we discussed how businesses are changing significantly driven by a steady penetration of digital technology, advances in UI, a new generation of more effective MI, IoT and more mature cloud offerings.  We believe all businesses and government agencies need to change too in order to evolve, thrive and win in the 21st century.

The report introduced a 6/36 part model to assess your strengths, weaknesses and needs in order to thrive in the next decade.  We’ve taken over 40 CIOs from our clients through this assessment in recent months and from our sample to date some organizations have a long road ahead:

Figure 1: Most organizations have a long road ahead

Even though all surveys are flawed, the scoring in this one is relatively coarse, respondents are self-scoring, they are often taking averages across multiple business areas, and this isn’t a large enough sample to separate results by industry or geography – we can still see a variety of interesting facts from analysing the data.

The most obvious observation is that we all have a long way to go.  LEF believes that an organization that can be confident of success in the next decade must score between four and five in each area.

But what to do next to achieve the results required?

We recommend creating an action plan and starting out by collating your scores in each area, both in terms of where you are now, and where you believe you need to get to, then computing the gap.  For example, you may think you are a 1 in ‘tech scanning’ and need to achieve a 4 (gap = 3).  Or you may think you are a 3 in ‘considering digital extensions’ and that is good enough for now (gap = 0).  This exercise is most powerful if senior leaders from both IT and the rest of the business are involved.  LEF would be pleased to conduct a workshop for clients to help facilitate discussion and craft your 5 priority areas to act on:

Figure 2: Identify your biggest gaps

Also consider adding/substituting the four ‘super’ capabilities of:

  • Digital-savvy leadership
  • Digital governance
  • Technology scanning
  • Benefits realization

Combining data analytics (specifically correlations), case study interviews and internal thought leadership, we have come to the conclusion that these four are ‘super-capabilities’ that result in raising the level of all the others.

Figure 3: Create your 21st century organization action plan

Now turn your observations into actions.  Create a chart like the one above, populated with your priorities, and the actions you will take, then bake those actions into your overall plans.

Contact us for assistance in creating your plan.  We look forward to working with clients building businesses and government agencies that can evolve, survive and thrive in the 21st century.


 This post first appeared on Leading Edge Forum in March 2017.

Dave Aron

Author: Dave Aron

Dave Aron, based in the UK, is Global Research Director for Leading Edge Forum.  In this position, he guides a series of global research initiatives aimed at helping CIOs and other Business/ IT leaders reimagine their organizations and leadership for a tech-driven future.

Dave’s key areas of research include digital business, strategy and new business models.  Previously, Dave spent more than 12 years at Gartner, as a Gartner Fellow, focusing on strategy and CIO leadership issues.  Dave has more than 30 years’ experience in the IT business and has been writing, speaking and teaching on digital business, IT strategy and other topics around the world for more than a decade.

Dave holds a BSc in Computer Science from Queen Mary College, and an MBA from London Business School.

Dave’s alter ego is Mu, The 21st Century Anti-Strategist, which comprises Dave’s distilled thoughts about what doesn’t make sense as 20th century organizations sleepwalk into the 21st century.