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Thimon de Jong runs over the past ten years has consulted with leading organisations such as Ikea, Deloitte, Aon, Samsung and GDF Suez, on sharpening their business strategies to sync with wider socio-cultural trends. Thimon runs his own company, Whetston, a strategic foresight think tank. He also teaches at Utrecht University on how sociocultural trends can be used to improve business strategy. He will be a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference on 8 October 2015 IMI: Based on your current work – if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business - what would they be?

TDJ: Develop a digitally balanced business strategy

IMI: What does this mean? TDJ: Society, human behaviour, business: our world is rapidly getting more and more digital. But parallel to this development, the need for the real, the personal and the unconnected is growing. In the future, a successful strategy will cater both these trends with a digital balance in any part of business: products, services, marketing communication, HR etc. IMI: Where should we look for further information? TDJ: This fall, I will release a series of articles on this, published via LinkedIn and my website: NMC 2015 A4 HEADER Thimon de Jong is a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference taking place on Thursday 8 October. This event has now reached maximum capacity however if you would like to be added to the waiting list, please email your contact details and company name to [post_title] => "Develop a digitally balanced business strategy" Six Word Wisdom from Thimon de Jong [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => develop-digitally-balanced-business-strategy-six-word-wisdom-thimon-de-jong [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:39:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:39:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 13041 [post_author] => 7 [post_date] => 2015-11-19 16:33:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-11-19 16:33:16 [post_content] =>

“There are two certainties in life, death and taxes” said Brad Pitt in the 1998 movie  “Meet Joe Black”. Actually I believe there is a third certainty, problems.

wrong solution car


Problems are part of the journey of life, we cannot move forward without dealing with some sort of problem from the most primordial of finding food and shelter, to the most trivial of choosing the right colour tie for your next meeting. The fact is that problems are very deceiving, in so many ways they are also similar to illnesses in that we despise them deeply. Like illnesses we become aware of them only when they hurt, by which time it is probably already too late to stop them doing some damage. Once we become aware of a problem and feel its pain we tend to treat the symptoms rather than truly tackling the causes. And again, like illnesses if we leave serious problems untreated and only tend to their symptoms they generally turn into even bigger problems and sometimes far to advance to be able to fix them.

Are you feeling the pain yet?

If you are, don’t panic just quite yet. Most problems can be resolved quite easily by simply understanding them and exploring them from different angles. We often believe there is only one right solution to a problem, in reality the solution to every problem doesn't depend on its symptoms but on its desired outcome. Exploring a problem from different angles allows us to gain clarity on what is going on and provide us with the opportunity to formulate a number of options and alternatives to focus on achieving what is truly important.

Do you feel as healthy as a fish?

If you don't then perhaps you should question why? Problems become serious only if we ignore smaller issues that don’t seem to mean much when they surface. Because they are so trivial and don’t seem to have an impact on the overall big picture such small issues tend to go unchecked until they become big enough. Then this requires all hands on deck to resolve and will distract everyone from performing the way they could. It is important to question the potential impact of small issues. What can happen if you don’t tackle them? What are they the symptoms of? What critical values are they eroding in your organisation?

Have you had these symptoms before?

If you have then it doesn't mean what is happening right now is the same as what you have experienced before. It might be the same problem but almost certainly the conditions in which its presenting itself are very different and the solution that worked before might not work this time. Experience forms connections in our brain between situations and actions. This is very useful when we operate under pressure but most often it causes us to make rushed decision and bad choices. It is always important to understand: What is different this time? How different are the causes from my previous experience? Which new conditions are causing the problem this time?

dr google


Googling won’t make it better, it will almost certainly make you feel worse!

Today it’s easy to “Google” any problem and find ready made solutions very quickly. The internet is indeed a powerful resource to find interesting answers and ideas but remember your problem has very unique characteristics and to be able to solve it effectively it is important to involve the people around you that are connected with it.

Most of the time fresh eyes help finding new and innovative solutions but before throwing all your energy on any external solution it is important to be candid and open up with what is really going on internally.

  Fabio Grassi is the Programme Director for Innovative Problem Solving, a two day programme which runs on the 26th & 27th of November 2015. Fabio is a specialist in the development of team performance, collaboration and motivation.  [post_title] => Are you treating the right problem? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => bugging-treating-right-problem [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:28:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:28:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 11952 [post_author] => 65 [post_date] => 2015-09-25 15:20:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2015-09-25 15:20:30 [post_content] =>
sue cox
Sue Cox is a Learning and Development Consultant and a Tango dancer.  She has worked extensively with the public and not-for-profit sectors as well as the corporate world and has developed and led social inclusion projects across the UK. She is interested in how we develop our own potential and how we connect better with others in order to be more effective in our organisations and relationships. She will be a keynote speaker at the IMI National Management Conference on 8 October 2015 IMI: Based on your current work – if you only had 6 words of advice to give a business - what would they be?

SC: Want better leadership? Develop your followership.

IMI: What does this mean? SC: Many organisations invest heavily in developing and recognising good leadership but give little or no thought to actively cultivating good followership. Leadership is, by definition, a relational process however there is no leadership unless there is a leader/follower dynamic. When we focus only on developing leadership, we give visibility and importance to one aspect only, neglecting the contribution of followership and the untapped potential of the relationship between the two.  How much do we lose by doing so? A powerful illustration of what this looks like in practice can be seen in Argentine Tango. There is a misconception in Tango that the leader is in control and the follower is relatively passive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Tango is complex, improvised and co-created in the moment and it depends entirely on the leader/follower dynamic.  Good followership amplifies and strengthens leadership; good leadership maximises the followers’ contribution. The quality of their connection elevates the whole dance to a greater level of performance. Misconceptions about leadership and followership are seen as often in the boardroom as they are in the ballroom. If you want to release potential in your organisation and be resourceful and creative in the way you respond to change and opportunity, the challenge is to develop everybody’s ability as both leader and follower, so that each can play their full part in co-creating the dance. IMI: Where should we look for further information? SC: Visit my website at 


Sue Cox spoke at the IMI National Management Conference on Thursday 8 October. This event has now reached maximum capacity however if you would like to be added to the waiting list, please email your contact details and company name to [post_title] => "Want better leadership? Develop your followership" Six Word Wisdom from Sue Cox [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => want-better-leadership-develop-followership-six-word-wisdom-sue-cox [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 20:42:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 20:42:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
Dr. Fergal Carton

Dr. Fergal Carton

6th Jul 2017

Dr. Fergal Carton is an IMI associate and Programme Director for the IMI Diploma in Technology Leadership

Related Articles

"Develop a digitally balanced business strategy" Six Word Wisdom from Thimon de Jong
Are you treating the right problem?
"Want better leadership? Develop your followership" Six Word Wisdom from Sue Cox

Efficient paths to being heard amid loud, crowd and cloud

Platform businesses exploit connectedness to create value for customers by integrating resources and assets that are not owned, but rented or shared. A curation fee is charged for managing the customer relationship and providing the transactional platform. Whether it is in high-end fashion, transportation or hospitality, consumer requirements may be met with a frictionless, mobile and personalised service. Consumers used to interacting with service providers via apps expect a level of interaction between those apps, often sharing contacts, content or account profiles for sign-up.

Platform businesses exploit connectedness (Photo source)

Today’s platform models are loud, crowd and cloud. Highly interactive messaging channels are leveraged to make the voice of the customer audible above the internal noise created by the organisations own processes.  Instead of requiring a significant investment in infrastructure and expertise, modern collaboration models are open and crowd initiated. Assets to support business processes, data analytics and customer service can be leased via the cloud rather than owned.

In traditional organisations, successive waves of enterprise-wide integration projects have automated the administration of core business processes (PLM, LIMS, MES, SCM, MRP, ERP, CRM, …). In so doing, however, they have created their own silos of understanding, with new vocabularies, specialists and data integrity challenges. IT departments tend to spend more time on the maintenance of these different systems and their troublingly sensitive interfaces than they do on brainstorming new ways to deliver value to end customers.

In both environments, however, getting clarity on the return on investment in technology is equally challenging. On the one hand, platform models intent on sharing and integrating features for customers are challenged with sustainable revenue models. On the other, the ongoing investment required to keep systems up and running is difficult to explain to business owners in terms of value to customers, instead of being perceived as a cost of doing business.

What is lacking here is not technology, or data, but skills. Keeping track of the often conflicting aims of the different components of an organisation, and then communicating the related opportunities to apply technology to achieve those aims is a complex process, demanding a level of confidence in both business and technology.

Such technology led change suggests an organisational process where external customer facing goals are continually re-evaluated against the means deployed to achieve them. Those resources include people, budgets, knowledge, skills, roles, business models, processes, technology, data, analytical tools, algorithmic capabilities and partner relationships.

An analogy for such “bridging” skills can be considered on the demand side of any business. Transactional automation is required by the sales organisation so that an authorised customer order with actionable product and delivery data is designed to make the order to cash cycle as efficient as possible. Customer information is recorded once only, maintained with a high level of data integrity, and both the sale and logistics sides of the organisation share the same information.

From a marketing perspective, the same transactional information can inform customer segmentation, the identification of target audiences and market behaviours. So an investment in technology can be justified on the grounds of both efficiency of process (execution) and effectiveness of purpose (strategy).

Now, online platforms increasingly converge promotion and transaction processes. Thus, new thinking is required to join sales intuition with customer experience. Information systems change from being a platform for transacting to being a platform for selling. This transition of technology from back to front office is called digital transformation but misleadingly emphasises the technology as the key driver. It is the shared understanding of organisational goals and technology constraints that will determine an organisations ability to stay ahead of competitors in maintaining and growing market share.

Dr. Fergal Carton is an IMI associate and Programme Director for the IMI Diploma in Technology Leadership. He is faculty at UCC and specialises in Management Information Systems and Managerial Accounting Systems. Fergal worked as a management consultant for 15 years, starting with the Boston Consulting Group in London. He has been on programme committees for various European conferences (ECIME, CONFENIS, ECIS) and spearheads the FSIC research activity in mobile payment ecosystems. 

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