“Anything is Possible in the Novel Economy” – Brian Solis

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Following the disruption wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, global businesses are squinting their eyes through the dust of the aftermath. Little has prepared them for what Brian Solis calls the “Novel Economy”. Yet despite all the uncertainty and hardship, Brian—Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce—remains upbeat that opportunity abounds, and that “anything is possible” — especially if enterprises center their response around the safety and evolving needs of customers and employees. 

Ahead of his webinar next week with our CEO and founder, Dr. Mik Kersten, on Transitioning from Project to Product to Thrive in the New Normal, Brian spoke to Tasktop to share some of his latest thoughts on what global enterprises can do to successfully navigate themselves through this brave new world.

What is the “Novel Economy”?

“The Novel Economy is unique in that it’s true to its definition. It’s new, unusual, and there’s no playbook for what we should do moving forward. No real best practices or case studies to guide us because the new market conditions are yet to be fully identified or understood. While we’ve been protecting ourselves, working and surviving, the world and the economy has literally changed in a matter of months.

On average, it takes 66 days for new behaviors to become second nature. That’s true for both how we work and how we shop. You could argue that any data on customers or employees prior to the pandemic can be thrown out the window. We should look at behavior from day one — that will be a leading indicator of how consumerism will perform and provide the basis for how it will evolve. So focusing on the customer experience (CX) and employee (EX) will be so critical moving forward.

While all this is scary for some organizations, it can also be wondrous for those who have long wondered about the possibilities of new ideas, new opportunities, new inventions. There is no going back to “normal”, but perhaps “normal” was what was wrong in the first place?”

COVID-19 Triggered the Turning Point

What does this mean for an organization’s existing digital transformation?

“Even before the disruption caused by the pandemic, there was a feeling that we were reaching a tipping point, both in terms of the global economic model and how organizations were modernizing. Many established organizations have been too focused on using IT to maintain operations and improving existing processes, instead of creating value to innovate and remain competitive. 

The disruption has laid bare the shortcomings of existing business models and transformation efforts. And during the scramble to plug holes and fix what’s broken in their operations, they’re identifying areas that have been missing, including opportunities for real business transformation — both operationally and from a performance perspective, as well as keeping up to speed with today’s digital-first markets.

For too long, stakeholders have only been able to think iteratively to keep going, daunted by more ambitious thinking. “We can’t try that”….“That’s too big”….“That will never work”…“We haven’t got the money”…“We won’t get approval.” Well now you have no choice — you have to respond now and your response will dictate your performance and define your legacy in the future.” 

How do organizations begin to adapt? 

“The challenge ahead of us is still huge. The disruption from the virus is still very much with us and is likely to be with us for at least the next 14-18 months. However, there are three key phases that organizations must pass through—Survive, Alive, and Thrive— starting with survival and the creation of a special task force. 

This cross-functional team has a hypersensitive focus on reopening the economy by agreeing on immediate investments to be made without politics or agendas. This team works for the greater good to banish infighting and the delays that have historically prevented critical decisions from being made. This team is focused on triaging and setting out roadmaps for the coming days and weeks to support the transition.

The first phase, “Survive”, is a direct response to what’s going on. There has been a massive blow to our markets and how we operate. Organizations are currently treading water, just trying to keep their head above it, making sure everyone is safe, while at the same time trying to keep everyone productive and everything operational.

The next stage is “Alive”. That’s where you really think about the everyday behavior of customers and employees and look into how you scale up operations. What does your back-to-work plan really look like? How do you redesign an office to accommodate social distancing? Where do you put hand sanitizer, testing kits, and so on? How do we ensure the safety of your customers? For years we’ve said to everyone you must become a tech company. Now everyone must also become a health company.

The third stage is “Thrive”. That’s where you begin to rethink the future and begin building the right infrastructure to adapt to this Novel Economy.”

Announcing the Flow Framework™ Catalyst

What does that infrastructure look like?

“Organizations should look to build a bi-modal approach that looks at operations and business performance. This is really where Tasktop can help as the company plays on both sides, accelerating the ability to create certain products and services at internet speed and scale. One side is ensuring the organization is Agile and ready to evolve, while the other side introduces innovation through market-facing products in the form of products and services.

Focusing on value streams that directly impact and support internal and external customers is crucial. The history of technology in the enterprise has allowed us to get further away from our customers. Customer service, sales, the internet, automation — it all puts further distance between humans, between employees, between business and customers. For instance, chat boxes replace the concept of human engagement in a variety of situations. That feature will only work until it doesn’t.

Technology and the pandemic have splintered the physical connectivity of humans. So it’s the leadership and businesses that focus on humanizing aspects of the customer and employee journey who will obtain an instant differentiator. It’s through technology like Tasktop that we can introduce nuances into the value stream that show end-users that we know who they are and what they’re trying to do that will help us stand out. 

And of course, real change starts with leadership. As we saw at the Business Roundtable last year, the idea of shareholder capitalism has reached a tipping point. We must commit to stakeholders over shareholders. To put all people—the employees, customers and stakeholders—at the center of everything.

The dynamics for change are set and anyone who is willing to truly zero in on the needs of people, to recognize them and acknowledge who they are and what they want, will be the ones who will innovate the right way and prevail in the coming age.”


Join Brian next week for a deeper dive into the Novel Economy…

You can hear Brian talk more in-depth about the Novel Economy in next week’s webinar on Thursday, May 21, 2020 (11am Vancouver (PT), 2pm New York (ET), 7pm London (GMT)).

During this fireside chat with Dr. Mik Kersten, the two will discuss how to move forward by adopting digital-first mindsets supported by Agile and DevOps, and Value Stream Management, to execute at internet speed and scale. Learn:

  • How to measure business value to drive end-to-end visibility and communicate effectively between IT and the business.
  • How to overlay Flow Metrics on top of Agile and DevOps initiatives to identify bottlenecks.
  • How you can conquer the cost of delay NOW.


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