1. "Not on my gold watch ..."
It's entirely natural to resist change. Business leaders who feel lost and disempowered to lead the type of transformation that's now needed, are tempted to bluster and, most importantly, to refuse to accept and define a business context that demands the most radical rethink ever. There is no simple solution to this. Without a truly Damascene leadership conversion, the enterprise will deliver nothing more than minor tactical innovations and incremental process improvements.
2. "It's all about digital ...
... therefore the solution must also lie in digital." Businesses that are still mired in the idea that "being more digital" is a way forward, to the exclusion of dramatic creative reinvention and growth, get stuck in the recent past. Life no longer goes on outside, it rushes past us. DT projects tend to net out as efficiency programmes. We're fiddling, when we should be burning Rome. Digital is not the endgame, it's an entry level ticket to the new game, one in which everything - and therefore nothing, usefully - is digital.
3. "I've been to Silicon Valley ...
... and now I get it." Most major corporates with any interest in technology are either making the pilgrimage or bringing a range of youthful Mohammeds to the mountain, in the form of hackathons, start-up parades and so on. Again, this is not wrong per se, but left in isolation is merely transformation porn, when what's urgently needed is consummation. There is nothing per se to learn from technology start-ups other than that, if we don't move very sharply, the future belongs to everyone but us. Great entertainment, but a sideshow. What should we be doing in the big tent?
4. "We have an innovation programme ...
... and we're really excited." Innovation, like digital, has become a term that excuses a lack of significant transformation. Too often, it's what we do - and worse, all we talk about - while we try to work up the courage to disrupt ourselves. Blind innovation without a respectable, and highly flexible, set of hypotheses for fresh enterprise and customer value is a waste of time, worse even than a waste of money in this accelerating market. Significant innovation, even done perfectly, does not lead transformation, it follows it.
5. "Are we there yet?"
From here on, there is no "there". We are never transformed, only transforming. This is perhaps the most difficult cultural shift of all. The language of business - in particular, the language of success - is peppered with metaphors of triumph over adversity, overcoming obstacles, and heroic, final arrivals. In other words, the conclusive delivery of results - laurels that we can proceed to sit on for a couple of years or more - has been the game. Well, it's over. Competitive advantage, to reference Rita McGrath's excellent book, is from now on only ever transient. No more heroes? Well, not exactly. But stone-faced rigidity and going down with the ship are so last century.