Fear Not the Fundamentals

– By Marni Edelhart on Medium

One of my favorite mindless TV programs is Love It or List It. It features a designer and a realtor who compete to convince homeowners either to love and remain in their own (newly remodeled) home or to list it and move to a new place. At some point in each episode, as contractors tear drywall from studs the owners, “must-haves” are replaced with “must dos” needed to keep the house safely standing. Invariably, the homeowners express irritation at being forced to pass up dreams of a new game room for the tedium of repairing a cracked foundation.

Now imagine if instead of replacing rotten pipes or removing asbestos insulation the contractors focused only on the flashy cosmetics, or even a step down from that just threw some twinkly lights on the front of the house and called it “updated.” Even if the homeowners initially feel dazzled by the sparkle, the scales would fall from their eyes when rain poured through their damaged roof onto new quartz counter-tops.

Similarly, businesses that approach digital transformation via slap dash adoption of bright shiny object technologies will achieve only superficial results. Organizations must carefully examine their structure from cellar to roof and wall-to-wall to discover the fundamental changes needed for lasting transformation.

For instance, on a recent call with a Pivot Advisor I got completely caught up discussing speed in Mobile. He raised the design challenge of ensuring that apps/sites load without delay on mobile devices. Sexy or not, this single factor can have a very material impact on your customer retention. Imagine your own frustration when any website, whether it be on your laptop or your smartphone, spins with the effort to open or when a site includes so many bells and whistles that accessing it absorbs all of your device’s processing power; nothing gets you to close a tab or browser page faster (except perhaps clicking on that seemingly innocent link that turns out to be x-rated).

Fundamental changes often require the courage to tear down your drywall and get a good look at the studs underneath. Only once you have rebuilt outdated processes and organizational structures can you begin to decorate. You may have the most exciting content around, but if your website is not mobile-ready it essentially does not exist. Your dressing rooms may be interactive, but if your supply chain is out of order your customers still leave empty-handed.

Brands don’t have the option to “list it” in exchange for a ready made modular digitally transformed version of themselves. Instead they must go through the process of fine-tuning fundamentals. This work may not make headlines but will ensure that your customers choose to “love it” for years to come.