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From Salted Caramel to AI: A Recipe for Transformation

Our favorite gelato place always has some crazy flavors of the month. 

It’s fun to see what the new ones are, even though I often default to the same flavor once I find what fits.

My current favorite is Nicky Glasses - coffee & salted caramel gelato with whipped cream. It’s not so revolutionary but they put their own spin on it that makes it unique. The quality ingredients and great service guarantee a delicious experience every time.

Helping companies transform feels similar. 

AI, sustainable finance, multigenerational communication skills - these are the “oreo milk tea” flavors that companies experiment with. I’ve done a dozen keynotes and workshops on the “human potential of AI” this year alone. 

These may end up as key ingredients that keep key clients coming back. They may be the critical edge a company needs to get results and win against competitors. 

But they aren’t useful unless they fulfill the underlying promise of your organization. 

So, how do you decide what to invest in to support that promise?

Often leaders diagnose a pain point that has come up in an engagement survey. 

  • People are worried about their jobs due to automation.
  • One end of the age spectrum doesn’t understand the other. 

Engaging someone for a quick remedy for a symptom (completely valid) is a bit like debuting a new flavor of the month. 

Will it make a splash? Will it inspire new thinking? Will it make enough of an impact on the business to think about how we can build it into something bigger?

Let’s take an example. I had a great conversation with a potential client the other day about strategic thinking. They sensed more of it could really benefit the company but weren’t sure where to start, how to embed it and which part of the organization would benefit most.

Whenever a company is trying to prioritize the results they want to achieve via a programme, I ask:

  1. What are you not able to do in your business because it’s not there?
  2. What might the presence of these new skills or mindsets elevate, speed up or make possible?

Strategic thinking is one of those things that everyone wants without always being clear about the why but this client is super smart. They know that as people move up the organization they need to spend less time on the tactical and tasks and more time thinking about the strategic ambitions, how to allocate resources and focus, how to communicate the vision, how to align incentives and processes. 

This is the stuff of cultural alignment and growth.

Another way to prioritize is to think big and reverse engineer what you need to reimagine what is possible for your organization by asking:

  1. What strategic ambitions do you have? 
  2. Are they the right ambitions or do they need to be recalibrated, expanded, reimagined?

This goes beyond strategic planning - i.e. considering the present, measuring it and extrapolating into the future.  

As my friend Rishad Tobaccowala says, “the future does not fit into the containers of the past”. 

Instead, you imagine new exponential possibilities for your company. 

You create a new container and a new vision.

Then you can reverse engineer from that future success to understand what new skills, structure or behaviors will give you the best chance of success.

Understanding “What got us here, won’t get us there” is a necessary mindset in this age of acceleration.

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