“Digital Industries are built upon the idea that customer needs are placed first and centre, with the needs of the business trailing second to that.” So says Talmix independent consultant Madeleine. And for Madeleine, understanding what’s truly important is at the core of everything she does. Having been selected as 1 of 54, out of an application pool of over 800, as a founder of Zinc VC’s Mission 1 – an initiative building new companies that solve the developed world’s toughest social issues, Madeleine’s extensive experience in Private Equity, Recruitment and the Digital Media space has enabled her to share her insight with organisations, helping them grow with purpose, and drive.
Madeleine talks to us about her journey, the importance of having the right team on board, the pace of technological change and more.
The Early Days and the crux of Digital Transformation
“I started my early life in the Private Equity world but after 4 years, moved into working with one of our portfolio companies,” she tells me. And that’s because Madeleine is naturally attracted to being hands-on and involved. “I enjoyed the private equity world but I was passionate about being at the coal-face of strategic development and transformation.” And being part of organisations that deliver real impact is clearly what drives Madeleine. She soon joined Tes Global – a digital education company that supports teaching and learning globally – as a Director, where she held various roles leading product development, delivery of growth initiatives, as well as strategic projects and business development. It was while working at Tes that she experienced the core of digital transformation – the development and implementation of new products, revenue and business models, alongside technology, system, process and management changes, to take advantage of new technologies and markets – and developed a nuanced view of the true opportunities and pitfalls as well as a unique diagnostic framework.
A digital storm is brewing
“There’s a change coming. Organisations that aren’t already built upon the idea that customer needs should take precedence over their own are slipping behind in the digital race. And they are now facing the critical need to gear up through introducing completely new product methodologies that are firmly rooted in their customers’ demands,” she tells me. And as an independent consultant who now operates a portfolio career, Madeleine is at the heart of that conversation. “As a result of this digital transformation that organisations are up against, they are being pushed to ask themselves whether they have the right people in place to carry the business forward, and, if not, how they intend to fill the gaps. Coupled with that is this continuous question about choosing what to do with your product and determining how that flows through your entire organisation – businesses have huge challenges on their hands and need to adapt,” she says.
Innovation doesn’t only mean inventing cool new things.
Madeleine tells me that while organisations are focussed on changing in their frontline organisations, such as sales and marketing, many are overlooking the importance of innovating the back-end systems and governance processes at the same time – including at the board level. “While you have this drive for innovation, you need to pay attention to how that affects your core strategy. For many organisations, this may lead to having to ask, and answer, some very difficult questions. It may mean that you need a complete mindset shift in your business. Your 5-year planning may not work anymore. Your top-down approach may not be appropriate anymore.” And for some leadership teams, the threat of “losing control” may be too much to handle. “For these businesses, it’s a question of making small iterative changes and re-framing activities – shifting from the ‘we’re relinquishing control, and so we’ll push back on that’ towards ‘It’s not about control – it’s about understanding the outcomes that we want to achieve and gearing up our teams to be able to deliver in the way that works’,” she tells me. And that’s where the experience of consultants such as Madeleine can help. By helping business leadership teams understand the change that may required within their organisation, and accept that they are set on a course that will ebb and flow with time, they will be less likely to be left stranded while the rest of the economy powers forward.
The power of an agile workforce
“The biggest challenge facing businesses today? Simple – the rapid pace of change. When demands on your team change, and the skill sets you’ve hired are no longer appropriate, what are you going to do? How do you access required talent? Because of that, there are strong incentives for businesses to shift towards a networked organisational strategy, that enables them to draw on outsourced talent. And likewise, there is an incentive for talent to shift towards a portfolio-based career or operate as a consultant, because you are guaranteed to get challenging and interesting work.” she tells me.
Madeleine believes that it’s critical to get your goals right. Any and all projects need to start with a simple conversation – “Is that really your goal?” – particularly when it comes to transformation and innovation of any kind. She recommends evaluating board buy-in, and the definition of value – and in doing so, on many occasions, she has found businesses often do something because they think it’s the right thing to do, but very seldom track the results of actions against the original desired outcome, or take pauses mid-flight to learn and evaluate whether the target outcome itself needs to change. As the pace of change speeds up, there will be those who adapt to a new, humble, iterative way of working, and those who are left behind. Businesses need to consider their value in the new world, what they need to learn, and how they need to operate to make an impact in the bigger, more demanding picture.
If you are ready to take an honest look at your organisation, and identify your continued value – then your next step is easy, as a consultant like Madeleine can help. Speak to Talmix today to get started.
About the AuthorMore Content by Katy Roberts