Harald Steiner

CEO / European Real Estate Brand Institute


Transformation – Guiding Your Journey, Part 1

The train isn’t stopping, please jump on

Consider the following: You know you need to get away from familiar surroundings and explore new horizons. You know that same routine day in, day out has started to paralyze you and life is passing you by without a trace. Your path takes you, somewhat aimlessly, to the nearest train station. From a bench on the platform, you spend some time watching the trains whizzing past and realize that none of them actually stop here. If you want to get away, you’ll have to jump on. 

This, or something very like it, must be the situation faced by 92 percent of corporate managers surveyed by McKinsey in a recent study on digital transformation. Around nine out of ten think that their current business model will not remain economically viable if their industry continues to digitize at the current rate and pace. These 92 percent know they have to keep moving, that they have to get on to the train, if they want to avoid ending up stranded, sitting on a bench at a train station and look back on a (business) life that never took them anywhere.

Waiting for the Transformation Train

Are you already standing at the transformation platform? If your answer is “yes,” then you’ve already recognized the first indications that you are reaching the limits of growth with your corporate plan and business model. You have noticed that more and more of your competitors are leaving you behind as they embark on their journeys. You have already heard from your customers that they want more transparency and service, better and simpler products, and you are afraid that you will not be able to satisfy their demands. You are on the verge of admitting to yourself that you have lost your innovative advantage and that you are trapped in a self-imposed organizational system designed to manage the existing rather than creating anything new. You are in a hard place. But such recognition is also the first step on the path to transformation, the first step towards tearing down familiar structures and replacing them with something the new. Keyword: disruption. In some cases, you might even need to completely rethink parts of your organization’s culture and structure. All this involves risks and requires courage.

The Right Train

Courage because you need to take your destiny in your own hands and jump on the train. But which train? The one that says “digitalisation” on it? Well, unfortunately, that is written on every single one of the trains that speed through the station. So that is not going to help much, is it? Digitalisation is nothing more, and nothing less, than the tracks on which you travel through the various regions of the transformation landscape: Sustainability and ESG, employer branding and marketing leadership. The studies we conduct at REB Institute and the evaluation of our empirical data clearly show that it is these three issues that are currently setting the agenda and driving successful corporate transformations. Integrating environmental, social and governance criteria strategically and credibly – in words and in deeds – into the corporate culture; strengthening your image as an employer and thereby fostering trust among customers and inspiring your employees to ever higher levels of performance; establishing and implementing digital corporate development, marketing and brand management processes – these are the tickets to successfully transforming your company.

The Destination Will Be Your Guide

This is all about corporate development and shaping change. In addition to recognising the need to change and taking the courage to act, top-level management also needs to make their commitment clear and communicate their objectives both internally and externally. If you don’t want to lose your way, you need to train your eyes on the destination and maintain an unwavering focus on your ultimate objectives. The goal is success through renewal and, as I said before, your route will take you through the wide lands of sustainability and ESG implementation, employer branding and marketing leadership. 

The stumbling blocks that lie in wait on the road to transformation, along with advice on how to remove or avoid them, will be our topic on 24 September 2020 – in blog #9: Transformation – Guiding Your Journey, Part 2.

With branded regards
Your Harald Steiner 

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