Accenture Digital Double Down & Responsive Organisation

I recently shared a statistic on twitter on the need for digital transformation from a new piece of Accenture strategy and was queried by Ragnar Heil on the comparison of the Accenture recommendations to the Responsive Organisation.

In this post, I compare the two approaches.

Similar Rationale: Both the Accenture Digital Double Down paper and the Responsive Organisation are framed around a fundamental change in business circumstances with the rise of digital technology and particularly its ability to enable disruption, transparency of information and rapid growth. Accenture specifically challenge organisations to recognise that digital transformer’s

‘aspirations and investment plans set the pace, and the actions of these organisations should become the core assumptions of any future business strategy’

A Game Change: Accenture explicitly frame their paper around the difference between growth and efficiency orientation. This reflects broadly the characterisation of efficiency as the traditional model of management thinking in the Responsive Organisation focus. However, effectiveness and growth are not identical concepts.

Purpose vs Growth: Growth in the Accenture context is revenue growth with customers. Responsive Organisation generally discusses effectiveness in a more systemic and purposeful way. Effectiveness is an organisations ability to create new and better ways to fulfil purpose and new and better ways to manage its stakeholder relationships, including employee engagement, leveraging employee potential and engaging community.

Customer-led: Both approaches rightly highlight that digital transformation is customer-led.  Accenture focuses on the customer channel transformation occurring and only briefly references new markets and value migration.  Responsive Organisation is more specific on how experimentation and value creation will occur through better customer orientation across the organisation.

Recognition of Changing Organisation: The Accenture Strategy paper explicitly recognises that change will be required to the organisation though this message is carefully phrased and not a major theme of the document. In its strategic questions, the Accenture paper notes:

‘How should we organize, measure, recruit and reward in a digital world?’

Company vs Network: Accenture recognises that partnerships, external relationships and new customer engagement are important, but their model for the entity leading digital transformation is a traditional hierarchical organisation. Responsive Organisation asks organisations to look more closely at the networks within and around the organisation and how different models of value creation and working might better fulfil purpose. Accenture do not emphasize the need for innovation in management approaches as heavily as discussion of Responsive Organisation.

Planning vs Experimentation: Accenture are explicitly providing guidance to senior managers as to where investment should be allocated and what should go in strategic plans. There is no reference to experimentation, learning or other similar concepts in the recommendations of the strategy document. Increasing the autonomy of employees to collaborate, experiment and innovate is not an explicit recommendation.

Need for Change Management: Both approaches recognise that organisations face significant change to adapt to new digital transformation and new ways of working. The Accenture focus is on which senior executives should lead the transformation and how to manage senior executive support. Responsive Organisation focuses on the challenge of engaging all employees and distribution of the transformation through a more autonomous organisation.

Communicate vs Transparency: Accenture highlight that digital changes the transparency of information in and around organisations. However, their model is still one where the organisation must choose what it wishes to communicate to partners, suppliers and others.

Summary: The two approaches are very similar and reflect efforts to address the same root cause and opportunity. Accenture’s approach is perhaps better targeted to engage senior managers looking to start incremental change to digital transformation now. After all, this strategy document is a summary of their approach and content as part of a consulting sales program. As organisations move deeper into digital transformation, I expect that the two approaches may draw closer together, assuming the opportunity to move to new ways of working and greater autonomy in the organisation is not precluded by the organisational culture.

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