12 High

I was recently humbled to be announced as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce for the fourth year in a row. This year was extra special to come in at number six and alongside some of the most respected, capable and generous retail professionals such as Jane Cay, Angus McDonald, Sven Lindell, Wayne Baskin and Amanda Green. I have learnt lots from all of them.

My nomination and ranking came on the back of strong eCommerce results for SRG with over 120% increase in revenue, the implementation of new web platform onto Salesforce Commerce Cloud and the establishment of  SRG’s Test & Learn capability.

“It takes more than just access to great technology to be successful online, it also requires the leadership and guidance of talented, motivated and inspiring individuals. Nathan is well known in Australia as a leader in e-Commerce and omnichannel strategy,” Mike Larcher.

However, this list isn’t about the retailers who make the most money or the ones with the biggest budgets, it’s about how much they give back to the community.

The article recognised my personal focus areas of ensuring my team are continually developing, investing in up and coming talent in the Brisbane community, supporting women in digital and introducing new ways of working to traditional structures. I am really lucky to be able to make some impact in these areas and am continually rewarded by having networks wider than the immediate job in front of me.

Well done to everyone who made the Top 50! Australian retail is well placed if we continue to share and challenge each other.

Cheers
Nathan

Nathan is the founder and lead consultant at 12HIGH. 12HIGH specialises in establishing digital strategy including digital transformation, Test & Learn capabilities, eCommerce optimisation and customer connection. Contact 12HIGH now

 

Earlier this week, I was featured in the Which-50 cover story, ‘Change Is Hard. Here’s How To Build A Culture That Delivers Your Digital Transformation‘.

The article has some great tips on how to change culture as part of your digital transformation. I especially like the tip to give people a physical symbol – a plastic sword! – to indicate that they have permission to try new things.

In this article, I was quoted on what I believe is the underlying key to successfully managing change through transformation:

“I’m a little unsure whether people hate change or if people just hate change happening to them.”

To elaborate further on this, here are four stages (with tangible actions) to help transform culture as part of your digital transformation:

1. Story tell
Leaders need to be story tellers. A lot of people who implement a transformational strategy or who are in those leadership positions have been on that journey for a long time and they’ve seen what’s coming. It’s important that they can sell this vision all the way through the organisation from the start. Transformational stories can be created by answering questions such as; What happens if we do nothing? What are we going to do? What does success look like? These are great jumping off points to create an illustrative and inspiring story to get the team on board. Think about how you can share that story in a personalised but scalable method. This could be in the form of video, organisational wide conferences (physical and virtual) or through relevant media channels.

2. Involve
The story does not need to have all the answers. In fact, it is better if it doesn’t. The rough script should be; “We see the disruption in our industry, we understand it, we are changing and we want you to come along on the journey.” We need to include our teams to create the change we are going to implement.No one likes having change happen to them. While the vision is set, it is important to engage the team through empathy sessions, manager one on ones and direct feedback mechanisms such as surveys. Great organisations may push this one step further and ask their team to design the solution for them through organisational challenges such as shark tanks or innovation days. By ensuring the team are heard and building the change together, there will be less resistance during implementation.

3. Action
Culture is not a fluffy ambition which will happen organically by replacing technology, people or process. Culture is changing the standards we accept and the way achieve them. By understanding the way we are currently working and contrasting it with the desired way of working, we can make decisions and create an action plan. Changing the way of working might incorporate significant actions such as moving to different delivery methods such as agile, setting new behavioural standards through simple rules or a complete organisational restructure. Or it may be much simpler such as introducing new communication channels such as chat, changing the time we open/close the doors or introducing healthy snacks. Whichever  actions we decide to take needs to be carefully planned and communicated with the team to ensure that they can see tangible actions being undertaken. By having clear goals and end-points, we will be able to measure the impact these actions have had on your organisational culture.

4. Celebrate
It is important that the plan is broken down to identify key milestones and achievements. This does not mean the end of a project or, heaven forbid, the end of the transformational programme. After all, a digital transformation may take years! Celebration and recognition needs to be constant throughout the transformation to demonstrate real progress, create momentum and demonstrate a visible shift from where the culture once was. Key celebration points which are often overlooked include the on boarding of new team members or partners, positive shifts in customer feedback and key project milestones such as the end of the development or testing cycle. Celebration can range from a team email to a morning tea to a full blown party but it is public, positive and progressive.

I believe that these elements are key to ensuring that a change of culture is included and successful within your digital transformation. If done successfully, it will have more impact than any technology, capability or process ever could.

Nathan is the founder and lead strategist at 12HIGH. 12HIGH specialises in activating digital, eCommerce and marketing strategy. Contact Nathan

Today marks the inaugural flight for 12HIGH.

In 1903, another first flight took place: the first sustained, controlled flight by man. The first flight lasted only 12 seconds. It wasn’t completed by the modern day Dreamliner, but rather a machine that had been tinkered, altered and improved off the back of numerous failed attempts and prototypes. It took 12 seconds to deem the notion of flight possible. 12 seconds to transform everything about how mankind would go on to live, work and play.

The name 12HIGH has special meaning to me, as it embodies my guiding principle: clear direction with rapid action. The Wright Brothers didn’t write off the hundreds of failed attempts made to achieve flight as time wasted, they learned from them. They had a very clear vision of where they needed to go, and used their learnings and experience to execute significant action.

12HIGH aims to deliver more twelve second moments for our clients by activating strategy rapidly. 

I had an amazing six years as Group Digital Manager at Super Retail Group. In that time I was lucky to work with a talented team to help transform a traditional retail business into a truly omnichannel organisation. We drove huge eCommerce sales growth (120%+ last year). We replatformed our web and eCommerce platform onto Salesforce Commerce Cloud. We used design thinking, lean design and agile methodologies to establish our Test & Learn capability. We were awarded best multichannel retailer on multiple occasions and my personal contribution was recognised by the industry, awarding me a spot in Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce for four years running.

But there was one opportunity which kept standing out; the ability to turn business strategy into rapid action. And it’s not an opportunity limited to one organisation.

I have seen it in previous roles and heard it first hand from other business leaders. We spend huge amounts of time, money and effort to create strategies, often with large consultancy partners, which sit in bottom drawers gathering dust. We constantly prioritise, reprioritise and re-reprioritise what we might do. We spend more time talking and meeting about change than acting on it. We paralyse ourselves and our organisations because we are scared to fail.

If action without strategy is wasted effort, strategy without action is self-destruction. Given the pace at which our customers, technology and competitors are changing; a failure to act quickly is our quickest path to irrelevance. And I don’t know any organisation who is aiming for irrelevance.

So how do we change so that we can activate our strategy quickly?

We need to be able to think big but act small. We need to continually test and learn new ideas. We need to be flexible and respond quickly to change. We need our teams to be empowered and creative for continual innovation. We need our customers to validate our assumptions. We need to co-create for better outcomes. We need clear goals for quick decisions. We need to think of tomorrow and act today. We need to continually progress to remain relevant.

At 12HIGH, we translate strategy into short and long term action plans focused on validated customer insights, rapid action and continual innovation. We specialise in developing and activating digital, customer and eCommerce strategies to meet larger organisational objectives. Our test and learn methodology, the OODA Loop, combines design thinking, lean design and agile practises, to deliver rapid insights, prototyping and customer validation for any business problem.

That’s 12HIGH on day one. We have the vision and the experience to transform business strategy into action. And it starts today.

If you’ve read this far, thank you. I would love to continue the conversation. If 12HIGH’s approach resonates with you and your organisation, please reach out for a free initial consultation. If it doesn’t resonate, I’d love to know why. In true test and learn fashion, your feedback will be invaluable to shaping how 12HIGH continually transforms into the future.

Onwards and upwards,
Nathan

nathan@12high.com.au

12HIGH actively transforms business strategy.

Business strategy is too often passive. It is too rigid. It is too often theoretical. It is too often presumptuous.

We believe business strategy is your greatest weapon. It shouldn’t be treated as a chore. But in order for strategy to be effective, we need to change how we approach it.

Business strategy needs to be focused. It is easy to gravitate towards the shiny things. The loud things. The easy things. We use a mixture of data and empathy, measured against your organisational goals, to identify the biggest gaps and opportunities for your business. We pursue progress of these opportunities at pace.

Business strategy needs to be flexible. As Mike Tyson once said;

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

Your strategy is your guide but it doesn’t mean you follow it blindly. We break your strategy down into what we can do tomorrow, what we will achieve over the next 90 days and larger, long-term projects. By revisiting these tactics regularly we can adjust our actions while remaining true to our strategic approach.

Business strategy needs to be inquisitive. How often do you see a business strategy admitted it that it doesn’t have all the answers? Rarely. Strategy is implicitly self-assured. However, the right questions are often more valuable than  the supposed answers. By using a Test & Learn approach we not only test what we think we know but get some answers on what we don’t know.

Business strategy needs to be tested. Strategy is easy to form if we approach it as a presumptuous and theoretical exercise. At it’s most dangerous, strategy is a collection of well paid opinions. We believe strategy needs to be co-created by a diverse group – including our customers. By getting real validation form customers we set ourselves up for success early and don’t wait until execution to find out the uncomfortable truths.

Business strategy needs to be actionable. Annual strategy papers which are approached as a compliance exercise and stored in bottom drawers are not only useless but wasteful.

We want strategy to be your most valued companion.

It should be front and center in what you measure, where you invest and what you create. By ensuring that your strategy has actions which you can commence today, with a long term view for the future, means you get instant and long term value from the exercise.

This is how 12HIGH approaches business strategy. We specialise in digital strategy but use our test and learn approach (including our OODA methodology) to apply digital thinking to any business problem. We would love the opportunity to transform your strategy as well. And no, we promise we won’t bring Mike Tyson with us.

Nathan is the founder and lead strategist at 12HIGH. 12HIGH specialises in establishing digital strategy including digital transformation, Test & Learn capabilities, eCommerce optimisation and customer connection. Contact 12HIGH now

A solid digital transformation strategy is the first step to ensuring you have the foundations to refocus your people, resources and efforts in the right direction. So what are the key elements you need to get right in your strategy in order to get your digital transformation off to the best start?

 

1. Alignment to organisational strategy
The purpose of a digital transformation isn’t to create a silo’d team, new goals or a second stream of projects. A successful digital transformation will enhance an organisational strategy by enhancing digital capability, technology and mindsets. Therefore, before commencing digital transformation work, it is crucial that the organisational mission, values, goals and strategy are clear in order to identify the gaps and the opportunities.
Successful digital transformation strategies accelerate towards a common goal, they don’t divide an organisation.
Key activities for success include:
  • Organisational strategy review
  • SWOT analysis 
  • Market analysis 

 

2. Customer validation
With consultants, senior leaders and strategists collaborating to deliver a digital transformation strategy, it will be natural to jump to unchallenged assumptions. These assumptions well may be valid and based on previous experience, market trends and academic research. However, to ensure it is relevant for your unique customer, each major assumption needs to be qualified with real customers before making major decisions which will determine your relevancy.
Getting customer validation doesn’t mean that you always have to do what your customers want.

Your customers may not know what they want until they see it. However, if you are going to take your customers in a new direction, you need to know their motivations and plan the change journey you will take them on.

Key activities for success include:

  • Customer empathy 
  • Customer journey mapping
  • Future trend analysis 

 

3. Co-creation
The easiest path to delivering a digital transformation strategy is to bring the digital subject matter experts into a room, extract a bunch of information and have a consultant come back with a shiny slide deck. This approach will be time efficient but unlikely to deliver transformational thinking and a viable action plan.
An effective digital transformation strategy will be formed by engaging those who can contribute to a wide business lens and a diverse problem solving mindset.

A  digital subject matter experts, senior leadership, your front line team, creative start ups, technology partners and if we really go crazy, real customers! Using this team to create the outputs will ensure that change management can be effectively planned and we get endorsement of the strategy from day one.

Key activities for success include:

  • Open forums
  • Design challenges
  • Progress showcases 

 

4. Boulders, rocks and pebbles
Digital transformation can be daunting. This is magnified when the output is a list of multi-year, multi-million dollar, interdependent projects which span a horizon likely to reach the launch of iPhone23.
The truth is, we can’t be sure we know what the digital landscape will look like in 12 months, let alone 12 years. But we need to start now.

Therefore, digital transformation actions need to be split into boulders (big foundational projects likely to take years), rocks (medium sized initiatives which can be implemented this year) and pebbles (the tactical improvements to test immediately). By ensuring we have various sized actions we can ensure we can start today, plan for tomorrow and create long term momentum.

Key activities for success include:

  • Time boxed goals
  • Test & learn initiatives
  • Post-strategy 90 day plan

 

5. Decisions (not necessarily alignment)
When creating a digital transformation strategy, it is inevitable that there will be opinions which do not align. This is not only OK, it is constructive. We want our key stakeholders to have the opportunity to be heard and contribute to the solution. Then, even if there is not consensus on the approach, we need public agreement on a way forward. By having these open conversations and decision endorsement, it is more likely that action will follow strategy.
The most dangerous behavior is implied consensus and silent dissent.

For big decisions, especially around people or technology, silent dissent is likely to lead to politics and wheel spinning rather than action post strategy delivery.

Key activities for success include:

  • Design principles 
  • Affinity mapping
  • Clear sign-off


The one thing that all these elements have in common? A successful digital transformation strategy comes down to HOW we create rather than WHAT we create.  By aligning to one organisational strategy, engaging stakeholders (especially customers), incorporating diverse viewpoints, clear decision endorsement and immediately actionable next steps, you will set your digital transformation up for success.

Nathan is the founder and lead consultant at 12HIGH. 12HIGH specialises in establishing digital strategy including digital transformation, Test & Learn capabilities, eCommerce optimisation and customer connection. Contact 12HIGH now