A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of being on the panel for Blockchain and the Digital Economy at ADC’s Leadership Forum. The session outline led with three questions:
How has 2020 accelerated the acceptance of the digital economy?
Is blockchain fulfilling its promise as the new universal disruptor?
How real is the role of cryptocurrencies as the new universal store of value?
It’s a large topic and an important one, as if we’re to address challenges such as growing inequality then we need to find a way to make the economy work for all of us, rather than just some of us.
Unfortunately, as too often happens, adding blockchain to a topic results in blockchain dominating the discussion with other interesting ideas ignored. Blockchain is quickly positioned as the solution and all other ways of framing (and understanding) the problems we face are ignored. This panel was no different in this regard.
Some of the ideas that would have been relevant in a broader discussion are things that I’ve been exploring for a while. Before the panel I’d pulled together an outline of the argument as to why our future is not “the digital economy”, but something much more interesting, and which creates more opportunity and freedom to act in addressing the challenges we’re facing. Rather than let a good outline go to waste I thought I’d build it out a little and publish it here.
to be prepared by ensuring that workers and teams have a suitable suite of digital tools and training, or
to empower workers and teams to find and adapt digital tools to their changing needs, pulling in tools and training as needed.
The work will be based on a survey that the Deloitte Dtermine team have kindly put together. It would be greatly appreciated if you could complete the survey, and share the link with contacts both in or outside Deloitte. The survey is public and anyone is welcome to submit a response. The more responses the better!
We’d greatly appreciate it if you would complete the survey, and recommend it to your friends and colleagues.
The report presenting the results is scheduled for publication early 2021 via Deloitte Insights. There will be a virtual launch event which we’ll announce on the mailing list.
The report uses the analogy of a cycling peloton—the team-of-teams that competes and cooperates in a road cycling race—to integrate current research on team formation and operation in a world where firms function as a team-of-teams.
First is that we seem to have a perfect storm for innovation. The pandemic means that doing the old thing is not an option for many firms, with many of us stuck at home and the government restricting how businesses operate. At the same time, new demand is appearing and we all learn how to live in the new normal.
Second, and as we pointed out in Getting out of the crisis, the business environment post shutdown is unlikely to be the same as pre shutdown. The best way to prepare is to experiment now, to learn how consumer behaviour is changing, and start building the assets and services that will you’ll use in the new normal.
Third, and finally, the government is providing unsecured loans and is even willing to underwrite payroll. The government is effectively paying you to innovate.
There’s already early evidence that firms who are experimenting and adapting will emerge from this shutdown more efficient and effective than they went in. Now would appear to be the perfect time to innovate.
The middle of a crisis might not seem to be the best time to think about the longer term. It can be important though, once immediate problems are dealt with, for management teams to consider how their firm will trade its way out of the crisis, rather than just reacting to events as they unfold.
The common assumption of a “V”-shaped economic contraction is unlikely to be true as when restrictions are lifted they’re likely to be lifted incrementally. The more a firm can do to innovation and keep the business running—rather than putting it into hibernation—the more likely the firm is to emerge from the other side. This means that:
An optimist would consider this a great time for experiment, to look for new opportunities, to find new ways to do old things, and to find new things to do.