Deloitte: 4 traditional business orthodoxies to challenge

By Janet Brice
Deloitte Consulting CEO Dan Helfrich highlights four orthodoxies he says are stopping organisations recover and thrive post-COVID-19...

Business Chief takes a closer look at four business orthodoxies that are challenged, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, by Deloitte Consulting CEO Dan Helfrich.

“While many of those long-standing beliefs and practices were upended as a direct result of the pandemic, I’d argue that most should have been eradicated a long time ago,” says Helfrich in the report, Four traditional business orthodoxies to challenge in 2021.

“It’s my belief that the organisations that continue to detonate these business orthodoxies will be more successful both in their recovery from the pandemic and in the long run. 

“In the past several months, I’ve spent a lot of time with executives from leading brands and organisations as they’ve made major changes to how they operate. Based on what I learned in those conversations, here’s my take on four traditional orthodoxies that leaders can challenge and find better, more market-leading approaches to improve their organisations in this next year.”

Orthodoxy 1: My organisation’s digital transformation should be based on previous successful IT implementations

Helfrich points out it can be a mistake to use a prior IT system as the road map for the next one. 

“The mindset of “this is how we succeeded before” can hamper an organization’s digital transformation before it even begins,” he says.

“For example, digitally mature organisations view investments in their digital transformation—whether a new system or application - as a way to implement a new business model. Ideally, however, each implementation has its own specific goals. 

He also points out that tech implementation is only the start of the journey, not the end. “If you implement with agility in mind, you can respond more quickly to change.”

Orthodoxy 2: It’s easier to fundamentally disrupt a market as a new entrant than as an established enterprise

By definition, disruptors enter markets to upend established enterprises.

“However, some incumbents have responded to the pandemic by putting new technology to work, proving that disruptors don’t necessarily have a competitive advantage. Why is this trend occurring? says Helfrich. 

“Incumbents can and are using their relatively deeper resources to make and execute decisions more rapidly - and regain a foothold while also exploring new business models.

Helfrich asks how can incumbents disrupt themselves more often? 

“One way is by asking yourself and your teams: 

  • Is this simply more of the same process with the same people, or can we challenge ourselves to think and act differently? 
  • Who should be at the table, and who isn’t? 
  • What other organisations should we be learning from, even if they are in completely different industries? 
  • Beyond that, what resources do we need to maintain or grow our position? Who can help us disrupt ourselves?

“Put the strength of your ecosystems to work by purposefully seeking out and convening other organisations that can accelerate innovation.”

Orthodoxy 3: Diversity, equity and inclusion are only about human resources and leaders increasing representation

A focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) became one of 2020’s positive legacies, says Helfrich who stresses organisations need to be “inclusive, speak out, support, and listen”.

“Is improving representation an imperative? Absolutely and rightly so. Deloitte have long studied the importance of DEI for organisations, discovering that inclusive organisations are twice as likely to meet or exceed financial targets and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.

“Progress has been made, and more needs to be done to increase representation, but for too many organisations, increasing representation is where the focus of DEI ends,” comments Helfrich who highlights three areas to focus on:

  • Robust mentorships and sponsorships
    Ensure employees from underrepresented communities, get effect support
  • Technology
    Address the talent-gap on technology roles
  • Societal impact
    Focus on a commitment to eradicating racism and social injustice

Orthodoxy 4: The more complex and nuanced the information, the fewer people in your organisation should have access to it

One consequence of this orthodoxy is information privilege, points out Helfrich. 

“This not only goes against the values of an equitable, inclusive, and transparent organisation, it also impacts performance. Sharing information - even if it seems like too complicated a story to tell - can benefit your organisation.”

Helfrich concludes that uncertainty of the future doesn’t mean that organisations can’t also be proactive and root out traditional orthodoxies that are getting in the way for them to recover and thrive. 

“Whether it is one of the four orthodoxies or another issue, challenge yourself and your team to include new people in the discussion, and then figure out a better way,” he said

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