Sharpening your instincts for the digital age

Our instincts are key to survival, but aren’t enough for us to thrive.

We delivered a London lecture for the Marketing Academy called “From Surviving to Thriving, Sharpening your Instincts for the Digital Age.” In it we described 4 instincts people need to sharpen to thrive in the digital age:

  1. Reawaken their ‘New Hunter-Gatherer’
  2. Follow the ‘New Laws of Attraction’ and explore new partnerships and collaborations
  3. Shift from retrospective intuition to ‘Forward-Focused Judgements’
  4. Overcome fight or flight and become ‘Constructively Curious’ about change

We use our instincts to de-risk situations. No one would argue that this is a bad thing, however, in a business context it’s risky. If we consistently seek to de-risk situations we often miss new opportunities. A consistently de-risking approach seldom leads brands and businesses to new growth. We need to challenge ourselves to sharpen our instincts for growth.

1. Reawaken our ‘New Hunter Gatherer’

The digital transformation has had a profound impact on the status quo for existing businesses and industries. We don’t have to look too far to see this in action: UBER has just turned 5 years old, is currently valued at $50Bn and is changing the way people travel and how the taxi industry operates.

When we see signs of disruption we need to see them as signs to go hunting for new areas of growth for our brands and businesses. A ‘New Hunter Gatherer’ is needed to find the sources of transient competitive advantages to exploit before the disruptor becomes disrupted and the advantage is gone.

For example, cognitive computing systems are a new disruptor that should awaken the hunter-gatherer within us. Rather than being programmed to prepare and anticipate for every possible answer or action needed to perform a set of tasks, these systems use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to sense, predict, infer, and in some ways think. They learn and interact naturally with people to extend what both humans and machines could do on their own. They help human experts make better decisions in the data driven era we live in. Have you sought these out? Can they help you and your business?

2. Follow the ‘New Laws of Attraction’

In nature we are instinctively attracted to people who are visually similar to ourselves, even smell the same. The same teams typically produce the same type of outputs. The new digital reality needs different outputs so find, and be, a new partner for someone.

Helix Nano is a company at the forefront of DNA nanotechnology, software and sequencing; they work with Johnson & Johnson Innovation to accelerate the pace of drug discovery.

Mastercard extended its ‘Priceless’ marketing campaign during the Christmas holidays by partnering with Lyft to deck out the interior of Lyft vehicles with Christmas decorations and handing out gifts.

3. Shift from retrospective intuition to ‘Forward Focused Judgements’

Intuition draws heavily on past experience, however, the past is becoming less & less able to help us predict the future. Instead, as Wayne Gretzky once declared, “a great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” We all need to understand where the puck will be for our businesses. The signposts for tomorrow are all around us, often buried in the data inside our organisations. We need to retrieve them and use them to make judgements, which steer our brands and businesses ahead.

4. Overcome fight or flight and become ‘Constructively Curious’ about all new developments

The new reality of the digital age requires us to be acutely self-aware as everything starts with our own reactions, influenced heavily by instinct. Typically disruptions and change lead to a drop in performance before people find the transformational idea, which becomes their key to moving forwards. In a world of ongoing disruption we cannot absorb constant drops in performance. We must get better at dealing with change. This starts with us being aware of our own unmeasured reactions and becoming ‘constructively curious’ about the new developments, looking for the opportunities that lie within.

People are actually better at this than some think. Take a look at the crowd economy for example. It is an ever-expanding landscape that includes its own currency (Bitcoin), a sharing economy (AirBnB) and its own funding model (Kickstarter).

We need to do the same with ourselves and become ‘Constructively Curious’ about change.

Take a look at our slideshare to see the full content of the lecture:


Brand Learning: Lifting capabilities to drive customer-centred growth
We work with companies across the world to lift the performance of their teams to drive growth by delivering better value for their customers.

For more information about how Brand Learning can help you lift your organisation’s digital capabilities, please get in touch or contact me directly @StephenIngram01. You may also like these films, perspectives and resources on Digital.

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