Mastering the art of harnessing new capabilities to achieve your goals is a significant aspect of my work. Consequently, many of my conversations revolve around exploring emerging technologies and how to effectively utilize them. Similarly, I frequently incorporate discussions on these topics as concise segments at the end of articles covering broader subjects or specific technologies. In a previous discussion, we talked about how new technologies can become distractions, especially when adopted haphazardly. When adapting to new technologies, I propose a 4-step model to follow:
1. Improve: This initial phase is the foundation for all subsequent steps. It involves enhancing and optimizing your existing processes, products, or services. The goal is to make incremental improvements to what you already do, boosting productivity, increasing revenue, and building confidence. It's akin to strengthening your current foundation before venturing into uncharted territory.
2. Innovate: Once you've improved your existing processes, the Innovate phase encourages you to think beyond your current boundaries. It's about exploring new possibilities and pushing the boundaries of your capabilities. Innovating involves considering what you could do and what you should do instead of simply continuing with the status quo. It's the creative phase where you start imagining a future that goes beyond your current constraints.
3. Redefine: As you progress, the Redefine phase comes into play. Here, you begin to climb the metaphorical mountain and add new capabilities to your skill set. You're no longer confined by your past limitations; instead, you redefine your vision to match your newfound capabilities. This phase is about envisioning a larger future and playing the same game but at a higher level with different expectations. Redefine signifies growth and the evolution of your vision.
4. Transform: The ultimate destination in this 4-step model is the Transform phase. By now, you've not only improved your foundation, innovated beyond your current boundaries, and redefined your vision, but you've also reached the point of transformation. Here, you're essentially playing a new game, often on a different playing field. Your influence extends beyond your company to potentially impact other organizations. You're likely to attract former competitors with ideas and investment opportunities, paving the way for collaboration.
The future can be unsettling for those who have grown comfortable with the status quo. They often hope that the future will resemble the past because they believe they've already figured it out. However, life rarely unfolds that way. I often emphasize the importance of "Standing still is moving backward" and the idea that one is either growing or dying. Thus, when I encounter resistance to new technologies, it leaves me somewhat concerned.
Smart individuals find ways to leverage promising new technologies instead of avoiding them. To use a surfing analogy, it's easier (and more enjoyable) to ride a wave than to resist it. Just like a skilled surfer doesn't catch every wave, recognizing the desire or necessity to ride doesn't mean blindly jumping in. It's acceptable to skip a smaller wave to ride a bigger one or to wait for a smarter and safer starting point.
This framework is somewhat reminiscent of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You must address fundamental aspects before focusing on more advanced goals, just as you must address food and shelter before seeking affiliation or self-actualization. The Improve phase is the most crucial, as it involves enhancing what you already do, leading to increased productivity and revenue. It buys you time and space to concentrate on what's next while demonstrating progress in the right direction, enhancing capabilities, and building confidence—the fuel needed to keep progressing. Many make the mistake of jumping straight to transformation, which represents the ambitious and audacious goal they aspire to achieve. It's the metaphorical mountain top they aim to conquer. While it's essential to identify this goal, you must also take the necessary steps to climb the mountain.
The first step in this ascent is the Innovate phase, which involves exploring what you could and should do, rather than just continuing what you're already doing. Redefine comes next, where you start ascending the mountain and adding new capabilities to your repertoire. You reach a stage where you can envision a more extensive future and expand your vision to align with your newfound capabilities. You're still playing the same game, but at a different level with different expectations. When you finally reach the Transform phase, you enter a new game, often on a different playing field. At this point, you're likely influencing not only your company but also others, potentially leading former competitors to approach you with ideas and investment opportunities, seeking collaboration.
Another common mistake entrepreneurs make is pivoting to something entirely new when faced with obstacles during their journey. When charting a path up a new mountain, you might encounter unstable terrain or seemingly insurmountable peaks. Instead of giving up and wandering in different directions, my rule at Capitalogix is "This or something better." When we encounter roadblocks, we find a way around them, but only if it's an improvement on our current goals.
This framework underlies two other frameworks I've previously shared. In the spirit of consolidating these ideas, I'd like to share them here as well.
The first framework addresses how we transform thoughts into tangible outcomes, and the second focuses on adopting technology in your business. Understanding human behavior and recognizing what remains constant are key to achieving technology adoption at scale. It's not just about having the best technology; it's about skillfully riding the waves of technology choices you make. This framework helps you turn ideas into reality and explains how concepts scale concerning capabilities, audience, and monetization.
While the Technology Adoption Model Framework stages hold importance, the ultimate message is that you don't need to predict the future. Instead, you must understand how human nature responds to the capabilities before them. To borrow from Wayne Gretzky, you need to skate in the direction you anticipate, or at least lean in the right direction.
Desire fuels commerce, and as money supports progress, that desire grows, along with the funding for it. As such, the path forward becomes relatively clear to envision. Each stage offers an opportunity to scale desire and adoption. It's not primarily about building the technology; it's about nurturing the desire.
This model is fractal, applicable at various levels of magnification or iteration. What may initially appear as a product can later become a prototype for something more significant. For example, a Product can evolve into a Platform, essentially creating an industry of its own and becoming the seed for new Capabilities, Prototypes, and Products.
SpaceX's goal of reaching Mars may seem like its North Star currently, but once achieved, it becomes the foundation for new objectives. This framework helps validate capabilities before investing significant resources.
Both of the above frameworks offer high-level approaches to help you understand the path forward strategically. The following, however, is more tactical and best suited for team discussions.
Taking Your First Steps Adapting to New Technologies
Innovation Activity Centers serve as the foundation for each stage, ensuring you are well-equipped to take decisive action and propel your journey toward transformation.
Despite the changing stages and seasons of your business, these activity centers and focal points can remain consistent. This stability allows you to stay resilient in ever-shifting currents. Each activity center necessitates a different type of person working on it, different key performance indicators (KPIs), and different timelines.
Understanding these models facilitates a better grasp of the capabilities, limitations, and milestones that define the path ahead, regardless of how the world evolves. These frameworks provide guidance for technology adoption, although alternative approaches exist. We are continually refining these models, which form the foundation for our plans to expand our Amplified Intelligence Platform. I eagerly anticipate improving and sharing them with you in the future.
Ultimately, frameworks are only valuable when put into use, and taking imperfect action surpasses perfect planning if you never act. I hope you find these frameworks valuable in clearing your path as you navigate it. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or comments about these concepts or their implementation. Onwards!
These four steps—Improve, Innovate, Redefine, and Transform—form a roadmap for adapting to new technologies and ensuring sustainable growth in the digital age. By following this model, you'll not only stay ahead in the tech landscape but also build the resilience and creativity needed to thrive in an ever-evolving world.