After 10 years of working for mostly one company, ING Group, I have decided to embark on a completely new journey, which is starting my own business - Adaptovate. I must say that even though it is really daunting to go into the unknown, it is also extremely exciting to be able to try something completely new. Obviously the plans for the business are huge, as I would never go for anything short of a trip to the moon and back, but we are doing it in small steps so we can fail quickly and learn, improve, adapt and innovate. This has been probably the key take away for me from a life in the corporate world that was passed on to me by my boss and mentor at ING.
At the time that he mentioned it for the first time, I still did not understand it, as I thought that all great leaders are flawless in their decision making and execution. It took me years to appreciate that making mistakes not only allows you to maximise the learning, but also allows you to quickly adapt by developing ideas that you would have never thought of originally. This becomes even more important for companies in the challenging environment of start-ups, technology leaps and ever-changing customer demands.
Being able to transform quickly in today's market is not enough for medium and large corporations. The game is now about the ability to simultaneously adapt, innovate and compete with thousands of small start-ups that do this everyday by learning through their failures. However, what they do different is that they are extremely resilient in this approach because adaptation and innovation are part of their DNA and they are set-up to fail quickly and learn.
I have been lucky enough to be able to work on this problem at ING who I must admit, have understood this quite well. They are probably one of the few companies today that are able to transform and disrupt their own business model at the same time and it seems they also have found a way to do this via their agile practice and the culture where making mistakes is ok, as long as you make them quickly. They use the following picture in many of their presentations as the perfect metaphor for this strategy, which I absolutely love:
At my last job I met my business partner Doug Ross who, as we both quickly found out, also truly believes in this concept. That is how we came up with the idea to help other organisations transform their business models and created Adaptovate. The Adaptovate model is based on an end-to-end approach to design, implementation and assurance of transformation programs, while at the same time embedding agility and innovation practices. This includes the set-up and running of tailored start-up accelerators, innovation labs and boot camps that will support the transformation and will help companies win in tomorrow's market. It also includes tools that are meant to help and foster the culture where making mistakes quickly to maximise the learning opportunity is ok. More to come soon...