Last week I had a couple of very interesting conversations and one, that was a bit frustrating. So, let’s start with the interesting ones. I was really fascinated by the bravery and entrepreneurship of a couple of factory owners in the apparel industry. As much as the last months have shown severe cancellations and reductions in production capacity, at the same time there is this undisputed wish to improve, to produce better, moresustainable, more efficient. Sustainability has become Mainstream I guess and that is a great achievement. I think that it has become a necessity for more and more brands to not just create sustainable capsule collections, to not just find sustainable fabrics and trims, but in general to produce in a better way. Not as an exception handling anymore. For sure, a long way of change is still ahead of us and this crisis around Covid19 creates only the momentum for this movement. But I am really hopeful when listening and reading about current activities of numerous brands and firms.
At the same time, and that concerns me, I read an article about small and medium companies in Germany, whom to my big surprise, are still reluctant to change and neitherdigitize their business models nor digitize their organizations. In this article they stated, that about 30% of the SMEs in Germany not even started their digital journey. That is a threatening number when thinking about the speed of change that we are seeing right now. There will be no way to catch up once the other, braver and more agile companies have fully enrolled their digital strategy. The differences between fully digital operations and blended or analogue ones will be severe. Not only will the cost of the organizations to cope with higher customer expectations be troubling, but also the attractiveness of these companies with low digital footprint will be lower for new employees. Successful organizations pull successful people and vice versa lame organizations will attract slow movers and maintain and cement the status quo.
Now I am wondering why this is the case and that brings me to the Zoom call I had last week with a gentleman in India, who hasn’t seen his family for 10 months. We had a chat about finding customers and introducing technology in the apparel industry. He was really frustrated - not only with the personal circumstances he is currently in, but also with the reactions of C-Level executives he talked to in the last months. The rate of rejection and hesitation to try out new things and experiments was frustratingly high. He was wondering how organizations possibly can be digitized when the owners or executive managers have no plan or openness for digitalization. When leaders see digitalization as part of IT, a new software to buy, something that needs to be delegated for sure. When leaders see digitalization as a burden for them and their teams instead of seeing the endless opportunities that lie within this technology shift. When they still think this is something for tech-companies somewhere in the world, but not for them and not for the manufacturing and fashion industry.
I can absolutely understand him. If the top management doesn’t own the new global movement of digitalization, the organization cannot change and digitize themselves. If executives still try to manage problems first and only digitize problematic areas, without a red thread or so called “digital strategy”, the rest of the organization will be left behind and struggle. If there is no NorthStar with regards to this technology shift, no clear plan or vision, the single initiatives will fail.
Therefore, the time is now - to wake up, stand up, literally stretch your organizations arms and legs and move. Be uncomfortable, challenge your business model, your processes, your hierarchy, your to-do’s.
Trash your Snooze Button and embrace the new world!
Enjoy the week…