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Innovations should be based on a deep understanding of who you are.

A recent article by an Austrian newspaper stated that the growth in sales of the ‘Christkindlmarkt’ (Christmas Market) Vienna exceeds the turnover growth of online shops by 30%. At the first instant, I was quite surprised by this fact. Why are traditional business models like of the Christkindlmarkt still competitive? Why are companies of the old economy still around even if not having radically transformed to innovative business models?

A good answer is given by the German philosopher Odo Marquard. His famous essay “Zukunft braucht Herkunft” (“Future needs history”) discusses why every innovation must be based on the capabilities that have evolved over centuries. In other words – if you are an elephant even years of training cannot make you a zebra. If you are the Vienna Opera even hundreds of Agile coaches cannot make you Spotify. If you are a big bank even thousands of consultants cannot make you a fintec.

After some contemplation, I asked myself questions like:

  • Could it be that we admire companies like Amazon too much?
  • Do we live in an age that believes too much in technology and progress?
  • Are companies of the old economy aware of the tremendous strengths that still keep them in front of innovative startups?
  • Is the hype of digital transformation slowing down because of the reality of real, tangible assets that can not be disrupted by internet companies?

So, what can be a better approach to shaping your future as an enterprise? Get a deeper understanding of who you are and co-create a compelling vision of the future together with many people of your enterprise!

Know who you are

  • What is your enterprise all about? What is your story? What is your purpose in society? Who are the people behind it? What is their motivation? This is the identity of the enterprise; what it stands for and the reason for its existence.

  • What will you actually provide to people? What are offering? How is what you offer going to change people’s lives? This is the experience the enterprise aims to create for customers and others.

  • What do you need to realise that? What are the parts that make it work? How are those parts related? What can you achieve with them? This is the architecture that holds the enterprise together. What are your current capabilitie

Co-design what you wanna be

Invite many people of your enterprise to co-design a shared purposeful vision of what you wanna be in the future.

  • Who do we wanna be in the future? A high-tech innovator? A first follower? A reliable, trustful conservative company?
  • Which customer segments do we want to address? Which new products shall we launch and why?
  • Which existing capabilities shall we improve? Which new capabilities do we need to realise?

In the past, these questions have been treated separately by specialist functions and disciplines, leading to incoherent, siloed, underperforming enterprises. Elements like a sound strategy, a well performing operating model, or a winning product design are simply impossible to get right if there is no coherence in the way people working to create the enterprise (its cocreators) answer these questions.

Intersection Group provides a holistic approach and tools that help you to understand who you are today and what/why you are capable of doing tomorrow.

Because future needs (hi)story.

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About the author

Wolfgang Goebl

Wolfgang Goebl

Intersection Group
Vienna, Austria

Wolfgang Goebl is the founder and President of the Intersection Group and an Enterprise Design Coach and IT Enterprise Architect at Austrian Power Grid. He is one of the authors of the book “Enterprise Design Patterns” and the EDGY language for collaborative Enterprise Design (www.enterprise.design).