Change Management

Innovate – Now or Never!

Innovate – Now or Never! 2560 1707 Tariq Elsadik

In the 20th century, McKinsey created their infamous Three Horizons model (The Alchemy of Growth, Mehirdad Baghai, Stephen Coley and David White – published in 1999) to explain how businesses typically invest in current products, incremental reforms, and breakthrough innovations. The framework relied on time as a guiding factor. It assumed that truly breakthrough innovations take years to develop. However, breakneck technological advances over the past decade have made that assumption inaccurate. Take, for example, Tesla, Amazon, and Apple; they have all proven that you can seize existing opportunities and build for resiliency and competitive advantage with technology.

When the three innovation horizons paper was published almost 20 years ago, it brought much-needed focus on why organizations need to understand their innovation horizons. More importantly, why they must spend time thinking about staying relevant. Since then, with technological breakthroughs, alternative models of thinking, tools, and processes have emerged, but the core message remains unchanged today. What must we do to stay relevant? How can we be resilient in the face of constant change?

Just look at the COVID-19 impact. This once in a lifetime event has forced massive economic, social & geopolitical modifications. For example, the world has seen a decade’s worth of e-commerce adoption take place in just eight weeks, following the first lockdown. It’s a trend that is likely to continue. Welcome to the new normal! As is the case most often, most business frameworks are not meant to be descriptive. Instead, they provide a common vocabulary and a reference guide to help people communicate better, especially when their organization’s future is at stake. 

So what are the three ‘famous’ innovation horizons?

In summary, the three innovation horizons focus on ’the source of value creation with time’.

H1 – Superior Execution – Extend & defend core businesses 

  • Have experienced business managers
  • The focus tends to be on maximizing profit, return on capital investment, and cash flow.
  • Time Horizon: 1 to 12 months

H2: Positional Advantage – Build emerging businesses 

  • Have entrepreneurs, people with a ‘business builder’ mindset, and have flexible budgets at their disposal.
  • The focus tends to be on revenue and net present value. 
  • Time Horizon: 24 to 36 months.

H3: Insight & Foresight – Create viable options

  • Have people that are passionate about their ideas and can move quickly to monetize them, focusing clearly on commercial progress
  • The focus tends to be on achieving milestones & market orientation and take advantage of and respond to disruptive opportunities (e.g. COVID-19)
  • Time Horizon: 36 to 72 months

Initiatives in H2 and H3 require active and direct leadership support, as they typically require a constant injection of resources, cash, money, time etc. Organizations that are relatively comfortable living in H1 starve initiatives in other horizons and appear less flexible and resistant to change. Data collected over the years show that successful businesses concurrently manage all three horizons to continue to deliver sustainable value and ultimately remain relevant. That being said, as much as this model has helped organizations in the past twenty or so years, dare I say, it is no longer relevant. Businesses today cannot afford to be working on new ideas that cannot commercialize quickly.

The time to respond to new opportunities and disruptive events is now. The astronomical breakthroughs in technology and the adoption of the best of breed business models and tools make this possible. In other words, organizations can still think in terms of H1, H2 and H3, perhaps to organize their thoughts. However, they better be prepared to deliver H2 & H3 initiatives along with their H1 initiatives – or risk being put out of business. 

We’ve now entered the accelerated innovation stage, and companies (private or public) need to note what needs to happen. For starters, there must be a collective and deliberate mind-shift to focus on delivery speed. If we adopt this principle, perhaps only then can organizations have meaningful discussions about what innovation could mean to them. To get to a place where an organization can deliver H3 ideas or even repurpose existing H1 and H2 ideas, the organization needs to be open to leveraging existing technological breakthroughs, tools and methods. A lot needs to happen along the way – perhaps most importantly, getting away as far as possible from the gravitational pull of the legacy environment, systems and thinking constraints.


DigitaAI Innovation Management Rafi Y

We are not Inclusive!

We are not Inclusive! 2560 1707 Rafi Yachoua

In a recent board meeting at a GCC-based organization, I witnessed, yet again, what happens to good people when they fail to rally important stakeholders around their vision. The board’s multiple failed attempts led them to strategize about going around the “non-cooperative” stakeholders, sideline them, and even get other influential stakeholders to pressure them to change. Politics replaced communication.

As I sat back intrigued at how I exhibit similar behaviours in some areas of my personal (and professional) life, I asked myself, what can my team and I do to ensure a win-win outcome for both parties? What can we do here to leave the world a tad bit better?

I did not have to think too long. The phrase “Design Thinking” wouldn’t leave my mind.

It is incredible how if you sit down with a human being and advise them to keep communicating with their “difficult” counterpart, they will come up with tens of reasons why they should not. The moment, however, you tell them, “we can help you run a workshop that brings all the parties together to articulate the problem statements and work towards solutions that all can stand behind”, they feel much more at ease. They recognize that the structure of a design thinking workshop and a facilitator’s presence make the conversation much easier for them.

The power of a well-executed design thinking workshop lies in three essential elements:

  • Interruption of participants communication patterns
  • Installation of communication patterns conducive to understanding, partnership and collaboration
  • The workshop’s public nature (falsehoods and politically driven statements are quickly recognized as such and weeded out automatically)

A design thinking workshop leader’s job is to interrupt people’s habitual patterns and invite them to consider other patterns of thinking, feeling and communicating. Interestingly, when we presented this new approach to our client, there was a figurative sigh of relief. They knew deep down they didn’t want to fight. They had chosen to do so only because they did not want to give up on their vision.While one can say “design thinking” saved the day, it is the participants’ willingness, openness and generosity in engaging in such a conversation that did it.

And what happened to me is I left the workshop asking, “Now, how might I bring that kind of discipline to that specific area of my life?”

Disruptive Innovation: 5 Signs a Company Is Poised to Pivot

Disruptive Innovation: 5 Signs a Company Is Poised to Pivot 1920 1280 Digit AI

This article originally appeared on ValueWalk.

The Covid-19 pandemic and its unprecedented economic fallout are testing how successfully many companies can react to changing market conditions. As the business models of entire industries are upended, the ability to innovate rapidly and smartly is not just a competitive advantage, it could be what decides which companies thrive and which will falter in the post-Covid economy.

But determining a company’s innovative potential is not always easy. Here are five signs that a company is poised to pivot.

It Backs Potentially Game-Changing Ideas

Disruptive companies build products and business models that are not just new, but the first of its kind. Many startups fit this category, but having an initial spark does not ensure the innovation fire will keep burning. To continue to grow, a company must commit to innovation over the long term—even if it means disrupting itself. Netflix pivoting to streaming as its DVD rental business tanked is a classic example, as is Apple’s bold decision to discontinue making most iPods and focus on iPhones, remaking the music industry along the way.

It Creates Space for Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation does not just happen, employees need time and space to focus on ideas and prototypes that can extend the business’ market value. Many companies, such as Lululemon and CVS, have built dedicated “innovation labs.” These are often deliberately sited away from the corporate head offices and in creative locations, such as near a university or startup hub, where employees can be exposed to new ideas and collaborate with people outside the business. These specialized labs work: in three years, Target’s product design lab has developed six in-house brands worth $1 billion each.

It Has a Robust Innovation Management Process

Innovation begins with a culture open to ideas and iterating, but it needs structure to ensure great ideas are pursued and funded. Organizations that connect with a diverse stakeholder ecosystem are much more likely to excel at innovation, so structures need to be in place that encourage, collect, and evaluate ideas from employees across the company, as well as from vendors, customers and partners. These may include insight programs that bring in ideas from vendors, customer intelligence platforms or employees tasked with overseeing and managing an innovation strategy.

It Invests in the Future

Innovation does not happen overnight or without financial commitment. R&D funding is not a true proxy for innovation, but how much a company invests in it and how successful its pipeline has been can be telling. Amazon, for instance, spends more than $20 billion a year on R&D. Corporate venture capital is another area to watch. There are more than 1,500 corporate venture funds, which companies use to scout for new technologies and seed ideas in startups. These funds are essentially peering into the future to determine which new technologies represent opportunities and threats to the parent company. During the 2008-2009 downturn, many corporates reduced their venture investments, so those that stay the course this time are signaling a strong commitment to continuous innovation.

It Balances Risk and Reward

The truth is that disruption requires risk-taking, and failure is a necessary part of the innovation process. The key is for companies to find the right balance between risk and reward. Many startups adopt a strategy of “failing fast” in order to experiment rapidly, learn from mistakes and progress towards breakthrough innovations. That approach has traditionally been harder for established companies. However, in the post-pandemic economy, disruption will be the new normal for the foreseeable future. That changes the risk-reward calculus. Indeed, in such uncertainty, choosing not to be bold and innovate could be the biggest risk of all.

About the Author:
Ludwig Melik, CEO of Planbox

As a visionary thought leader and passionate technology advocate, Ludwig has the opportunity to work with some of the most innovative companies in the world every day. Sharing enterprise innovation success stories, design thinking methodologies and agile work processes are some of his ardent talking points. With 20+ years of experience in the project portfolio management and innovation management market, Ludwig looks to help organizations positively transform their work culture to create sustainable growth and ongoing success by galvanizing employee engagement and by igniting creative ideation. Connect with Ludwig on LinkedIn.

For tips and advice on insuring effective innovation management in your organisation, check out what Planbox has to offer.

Contact us for a free first consultation at

Conquering a Crisis with Innovation Management

Conquering a Crisis with Innovation Management 2560 1748 Digit AI

This is an article written and published by our partner Planbox.

Right now, the challenge of adapting to transformations and disruptions in the business world is more real and more urgent than ever. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations have been thrust in a vicious cycle of uncertainty that has them confronting unprecedented setbacks.

Historically, innovation in times of crisis grows exponentially. Improving current business processes and services is a mandatory solution to successfully navigating the crisis. This makes effective innovation management critical for fighting against the current setbacks.

However, this pandemic shows how important it is to leverage sustainable innovation now and after this crisis for the long-term growth of your business. Innovation is being embraced by organizations all over the world in new ways, and it is here to stay as the new norm.

COVID-19 is already sparking the next generation of innovation as companies realize the importance and potential of a culture of innovation. Innovation management can be leveraged to conquer a crisis now and generate sustainable success for the future.

Building Your Defenses

Innovation tends to be a do or die concept for most businesses, and this is never more true than during a crisis. It is likely that you have already seen the effects of this around you. Innovation is a powerful line of defense against disruption and unpredictable events that threaten your business. Reacting in these situations can be dangerous compared to taking prepared action. Sometimes there is no other choice, but that is why this pandemic has proven that creating sustainable innovation that is agile is so important.

By creating a flexible and adaptable work environment, you can build your defenses and better prepare for if and when there is a future crisis. To deal with the current situation, innovation management platforms provide the stability to generate innovation now while building a base for long-term strategy.

Most importantly, sustainable innovation requires commitment from executives, employees, and the organization as a whole. Uniting the organization with a common goal and expectation for innovation provides support for surviving the current crisis and leads the company in a positive direction for the future.

Driving Sustainable Innovation

Building a profitable and sustainable innovation strategy requires clear communication, open collaboration, market research, and the effective use of technology. Agile innovation management platforms are built for organizing and executing innovation activities for any business of any size in any industry with all of these things in mind.

Not only does this manage innovation, but it manages the challenges presented by a crisis so that deliberate action can be taken to overcome setbacks. The goal is to stay ahead of the curve and ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. The pandemic has created a business environment where flexibility and quickness beat competition.

Organizations should prepare to face this as a market expectation moving forward. Adopting agile practices company-wide creates a culture of innovation that dominates during times of growth and perseveres during times of crisis.

Preparing for the Future

The future trends of innovation management predicted great leaps in technology and business capabilities, and the current crisis exemplifies why it is so important to take advantage of new resources. The current landscape demands a move away from physical services, which makes a move toward digital processes and services critical. Open innovation solutions make collaborating virtually easier and more efficient for businesses facing physical restrictions. It has long-term value as well for creating a culture of innovation whether or not physical limitations are in place.

The value of transparency has been on the rise, but COVID-19 made transparency an important market and customer expectation. Sharing innovation processes allows for extreme speed in producing products and services that meet current customer needs that are largely unprecedented.

Sustainable innovation is a high priority that cannot be put off any longer. We have only seen the beginning of COVID-19’s impact on business, but it is proving the need for agile flexibility and adaptability for future success. Having a culture of innovation means adopting methods that go beyond making improvements by accident or in response to a crisis.

To prepare for the future of work and future trends, an effective innovation management solution can help you develop a strategy that drives sustainable innovation.

For tips and advice on navigating the current crisis while building a long-term plan, check out Planbox’s COVID-19 Business Threat Challenge Starters. Or contact us via for a free first consultation.

My Predictions For The Post-Pandemic Corporate World

My Predictions For The Post-Pandemic Corporate World 2560 1748 Fadi Jawdat Al-Hindi

We’ve long suspected the need to develop a virtual world, where the core of business longevity stems from a complete digital transformation. COVID-19 seems to be making our case for more zero touch and online interactions. While this transformation is not new, it is being accelerated due to the isolation, social distancing norms set in place globally. How does one operate in a world driven by physical distance? Simple. You revamp the paradigm.

Around the world, the transformation started taking place years ago when companies began replicating certain elements of their brick and mortar business model on online platforms. The automotive sector welcomed virtual showrooms, healthcare sectors started telecommuting consultations, the education industry began online classes and distance learning so students across the globe could receive their degrees without travelling to the University/school locale. But the catalyst, COVID-19, created almost a worldwide emergency requiring companies to adapt and adopt technologies overnight that could help them mirror their physical office practices in a virtual ecosystem.

Having seen the success rate and increased productivity rates over the past two months, we’re painting a picture of a post-COVID corporate world.

Post-COVID Work Life

As offices switched to all-online mediums of communication, as with an actual physical setup, cyber security is always a factor to be considered. With the increase in the number of employees working from home, information sharing is all virtual and altered quite dramatically, so the challenge fell on the in-house tech geniuses to create remote work capabilities that are safe, secure and mitigate misuse.

Working remotely permanently was first implemented by Twitter in March as a response to the virus onset. They explained that this decision was made in line with their ‘distributed workforce’ endeavors. Telecommuting and a hybrid of in-office + Telecommuting is where we’re headed post-pandemic. The need to conduct webinars, virtual meetings and a more digitally enabled workforce is crucial now more than ever because of the long-term benefits. Most organizations will not be returning to the old way of conducting business even as the country reopens operations.

Apart from the obvious health benefits to social distancing and working from home, the company faces reduced costs, reduced emissions while indirectly motivating their employees because of the new work-life balance that’s created. We are at the cusp of a post-COVID reality and in the position to reinvent the workplace.

Post-Pandemic Business Meetings

A major impact has been on corporate travel. Flying across the globe for business is not the same anymore and possibly not as safe anymore. We’re looking at a more limited future in terms of travel; regional travel may be safer as compared to international. This change, from the airline’s perspective, is beyond drastic. We’re looking at a complete 180-degree turn in the way in-flight entertainment and food is served, the seating arrangement, coach and business class pricing, especially considering the reduction in capacity travel.

The New Corporate Standard

While the world is seeing redundancies, furloughs and a significantly large unemployment rate, we are resilient. We’re seeing entrepreneurial spirits on the rise, SMEs taking the lead in technological advancements and a contact-free economy that, based on previous experience, will birth new disruptive brands that will sustain the post-pandemic world. Brands that are now helping us in this period, Netflix, FedEx, Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, and so on were formed post-economic recessions and are now part of our daily lives.

For consumers, brands are now being held to a new standard. Business priorities have to change completely, and resources need to be repurposed to cater to today’s challenges (reduced in-store footfall and impulse purchases) while communicating a responsible, CSR plan. Consumers have now become more conscious of the brands they interact with and this is fueled by their compassion for frontline workers currently. To maximize their brand impact, donating a portion of their sales to hospitals or partnering with like-minded brands is important for raising their social status.

This means a significant drop in luxury brand purchases is expected, unless, they are able to keep their sense of purpose on the surface to allow the customers to experience their compassionate, responsible side. Our consumers are becoming more conscious of the efforts in brand development and identifying CSR as a driving factor for brand loyalty. For SMEs and startups, shelving an idea until the market rebounds may create a missed opportunity and acting swiftly is fundamental.

We’re at the brink of a revolution that could create a unique algorithm for corporate functions moving forward but the thing to remember is, resilience is key.

Finding Opportunities in a Crisis

Finding Opportunities in a Crisis 1280 2276 Fadi Jawdat Al-Hindi

It’s been an interesting 2020 for the world so far as we battle through these unprecedented times. When I first fully understood the gravity of the pandemic and the implications of the lockdown, like many I felt paralyzed. I still do some days – this is the truth! And this is probably why it took me a while to get back on social media.

After 30-years of a professional career in consulting and working for organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, DEWA, Smart Dubai, and others, I left a year ago to start my two businesses, DigitAI, an Innovation & Management consultancy specializing in Artificial Intelligence, and, an InsureTech Startup out of Abu Dhabi Global Markets. So not only did I feel alarmed and deeply concerned along with the world about the COVID-19 that was sweeping through the world and the global stock markets plunge, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of sadness towards value destruction taking place for businesses, startups and the economy.

But when adversity comes, so does opportunity. If there was ever a time for businesses to innovate, digitize and automate their processes, it is now.

Challenges are Opportunities for Innovation
10 years ago, the economy was in free fall from the 2008/ 2009 recession. But from these ashes emerged some of the biggest tech giants including Uber, Pinterest, YouTube, Air BnB and Slack. Yes, recessions can be detrimental for businesses, but they also bring forth new market opportunities, digital innovation, and reduced market competition. Investors and entrepreneurs around the world have said that the COVID-19 we are presently fighting is the “world crisis” for a startup and broader economy since the great depression.

As organizations and governments around the world mandate employees work from home to reduce the spread of COVID-19, many businesses, such as airlines and hotels, have been hit hard. And as automakers, malls, shops and commercial, physical locations are forced to close, COVID-19 is revealing the physical-digital divide: Universities and schools have made a shift to online learning, restaurants have transitioned to online ordering and delivery, and video conferencing platforms users for platform like Zoom and BlueJeans have skyrocketed. Delivery giant Amazon encouraged their staff to work overtime to try and cope with the huge demand. We are beginning to see a rapid organizational transformation across industries which is very quickly changing and shaping the future of work as we know it.

Digitization is the New Standard
After working on large-scale digital transformations for the majority of my career, I know how difficult digitization can be for established and traditional organizations to adopt. And to complicate it further there is now an additional layer required for a digital operating models: virtual work.

Before companies digitized and leveraged Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies to be better, faster and stronger. In my career, we used digitization, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence to automate tasks that tripled teams production, recovered Millions of dollars from fraud, and improved the type of work for the workforce. But now, digitizing is not just a great recipe for improving your operations and increasing your bottom line. It’s far more fundamental for worker employment and the public’s health. The stakes have drastically, and quickly, increased.

In my next article, I will be revealing 3 things that leaders and organizations can do in the wake of this rapid digital transformation. What else would you like to learn? I would like everyone to know that I am here for them and happy to help in whatever way I can, whether it’s a quick Zoom call to brainstorm ideas or a large-scale digital transformation project planning, I am here and ready.

Additionally, DigitAI is lending a hand “pro-bono” to assist organizations with their data to solve problems using Machine Learning & Artificial intelligence. Please email me at

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