5 lessons in change from Wunderman-Bienalto’s Hurol Inan

Wunderman-Bienalto's CEO says legacies are the vulnerabilities in organisations today ripe for digital disruption

Hurol Inan
Hurol Inan

Legacies are the weak point of organisations today because they’re ripe for disruption internally and externally, Wunderman Bienalto CEO, Hurol Inan, claims.

Speaking at today’s Marketo Executive breakfast event in Sydney, Inan said organisations looking to cope with the amount of change being experienced in the shift to industry 4.0, and blurring of the line between the digital and physical worlds, must embrace holistic, disruptive change.

“Many businesses operate on legacies, and that’s true especially of large and established businesses,” he told attendees. “Legacies are often the vulnerabilities of these organisations. Understanding what they are and providing better value for your customers is a critical part of how you create better value.”

For example, in the insurance sector, the traditional business model penalises existing customers, Inan said. Every time a consumer gets their next annual insurance premium, the price has often gone up, an issue that needs to be tackled if these organisations want to become more customer-centric.

Inan offered up five key pieces of advice on how marketers could better embrace change in the face of industry 4.0. The first was to “open up”.

“We’re dealing with significant complexity and uncertainty, and the opportunity we unlock is messy,” he said.

“Move away from controls and closed organisations to more collaborative organisations. Two extremes of management style are control and delegation. Delegation is as bad as control. The complexity is so large, and the opportunity so messy, that we cannot simply delegate transformation to a single, small and not so senior business unit.

“Today’s managers should evolve into facilitators, and tackle transformation with the best and brightest minds at all levels.”

Along this line, Inan encouraged leaders to foster diversity. “If we hang around people like ourselves, we won’t change,” he commented. “But it’s hard to challenge the status quo.

“Acquire diversity – and I don’t mean ethnic diversity, but in terms of skills, age, gender, and any diversity you can take. If you can respect, nurture and leverage it through cooperation, you can create some amazing solutions.”

Agility, while not new, was Inan’s third pillar of change, and the way forward if organisations want to deliver best quality products that continuously evolve.

“When a client tries to give us a brief, we tell them we take briefs, we want to write it together. When they ask us to pitch concepts, we say we don’t pitch anymore, we want to cooperate and collaborate with you,” he said. “Agility is about quality products, about doing it fast, and engaging everyone.”

Fourth on Inan’s list was embracing test and learn, and avoiding assumption. “Test and learn is the new norm for transformed organisations,” he said. “And you have to be bold. You don’t just play around the edges, change buttons on the website, you want to find things that are big enough to make a significant impact on your business outcomes.”

As a final piece of advice, Inan said organisations should work to short-term planning horizons, because uncertainty means organisations have limited visibility. “Gone are the days for planning 3-5 years, the more realistic planning horizons are 6-18 months,” he said.

“But don’t be a short-term populist in terms of what we product. The principles of delivering value and caring for our people – whether they are employees, consumers or citizens – are all about steering in the right direction. We can approach this in an organic and adaptive way.”

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