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CEOs Must End Digital Business Planning Paralysis

by Mark Raskino  |  September 12, 2017  |  1 Comment

Something I’ve noticed in a few interactions this year, has been too much planning for digital business innovation. We meet with some technology and business executives who have been strategizing and planning how to set up a digital business innovation center or capability for months and months.. sometimes a year, or even two years.

endless tunnell

endless tunnel CC 2.0 kimdokhac via Flickr

It’s smart to read, research, plan, prepare, get people aligned, think…  it’s all good. But beyond a certain point you just have to act. In some cases the executive thinking and planning seems to become semi-perpetual and that’s a very bad thing for three important reasons.

  1. When industry disruption is closing in, every day that you delay is a gift to your future competition.
  2.  Once a Moore’s law pace of innovation applies to your products and services – every day that you delay adds to the exponentially widening gap between your current customer value proposition and what has become technically possible.
  3. The more top down planning your executives do, the more they reinforce the old pattern of corporate IT thought. Digital business is mostly about entrepreneurial risk and market experimentation – not just pre-determined design and waterfall project implementation.

It’s interesting that when executives finally commit to action, create their digital innovation center, see the first projects and start to really experience a more creative and exploratory mode of advancement – they get hooked. Insight builds on insight very quickly and enthusiasm grows. Of course the first version of their innovation ‘machine’ isn’t right. They have the wrong skills, a narrow focus, the poor location etc. Fix and improve. The pace of evolution usually snowballs (though sometimes it stalls – if so.. start again).

CEOs who have sat through a few discussions and presentations about what the company is planning to do to embrace digital, should bring that phase to an end quickly. Beyond a certain point you can’t learn without doing in digital business.


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Mark Raskino
VP & Gartner Fellow
15 years at Gartner
30 years IT industry

Mark Raskino is a vice president and Gartner Fellow in the CEO Research group. Mark creates advice and analysis for CEOs on technology related and digital business strategy and change Read Full Bio

Thoughts on CEOs Must End Digital Business Planning Paralysis

  1. TonyDevine says:

    We cannot forget where we came from either… An appetite for risk is not that high in many companies and sectors nor a willingness to exploit risk for competitive advantage.Extensive Business planning data classification and risk controls are key…

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