Our Digital Evolution: Why Darwin & Edison May Have Had It Right
I have always prided myself on being adaptable and driving change within an organization. I like to challenge the status quo. I like to learn new things. I've got just enough confidence and risk taker in me to be OK with trying something new and failing miserably (although I learned early on to start small and fail fast). But I gotta say that these last few months have been challenging even for the heartiest of us change agents.
We've all heard the quote from Charles Darwin (although rumor has it that it wasn't actually in his On the Origin of the Species book - who knew?) which is: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." I doubt that Darwin anticipated the COVID-19 global pandemic with his ideas around survival of the fittest (although perhaps something conceptually similar), yet the concept certainly is very relevant today in that the strongest of us and those most suited to the environment in which we live will be the most successful. And perhaps Thomas Edison was thinking of today's world when he said, "Hell, there are no rules here - we are just trying to accomplish something."
"It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent of a species that survives.
It is the one that is most adaptable to change."
Because never before has the environment we live in been so reliant on digital connectivity and tools to do our work and engage with our professional colleagues and employees. Each of us has gone through our own mini digital transformation as we've wired up our home offices, downloaded new software, figured out the art and science of conducting productive meetings via Zoom or Teams, and found creative ways to combat 'screen fatigue'.
So it is serendipitous that earlier this year I sat down to breakfast with a long-time business colleague and friend of mine, Gino Giovannelli. We gather fairly frequently but that day in January it was to brainstorm ideas around leveraging expertise to discover ways of bringing Digital Transformation to life in new and practical ways. Totally relevant for our Creatis clients who run marketing, creative and digital teams in large companies across the Twin Cities. And also very relevant for the past and present University of St. Thomas students that Gino teaches in his digital marketing program, who are seeking new ways to stay current in digital trends and tools once that diploma is in hand and they land their first business, digital or marketing gig.
Gino and I began our co-creation of all things digital back in 1999, when he joined the Radisson marketing team at Carlson as the head of interactive marketing. He then joined me in our eCRM (electronic aka digital CRM) Center of Excellence at Carlson responsible for digital marketing transformation for the Carlson consumer businesses including all hotel brands, Regent Seven Seas cruises and TGIFriday's restaurants. That was as Facebook or Twitter were just emerging. Serving up variable content on a website was also just starting and even Google was still fairly new. No one really knew what SEO/SEM actually was much less how to do it; or that LOL was about expressing humor and not just an abbreviation for a very successful agricultural cooperative based in MN.
Gino and I got a chance to partner up again when I was SVP of Marketing & Product Dev't at Caribou Coffee to replatform the website and drive demand to the online retail store (I had many a good debate with my operations partners about why allowing someone to buy a bag of coffee online and then have them pick it up at the CBOU store was a good idea). Gino also helped me develop strategies at Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTCUW) for individual donor engagement especially with Millennials and drove a digital transformation for online giving (versus company-sponsored payroll deductions). I will say that some of the things we tried did fail and more than once I was just a bit ahead of the time the company was ready to embrace digital. But, we were able to set a course for digital enablement that is paying off today.
Which brings me back to our latest partnership around all things digital, a brand-new podcast series called: In the Key of D: Using Digital to Transform your Business. The first season of content will begin to air in mid-July, and we have a great line-up of business executives and digital experts confirmed for our first seven episodes. Gino and I will be co-hosts for the podcast, and our guests in Season One will include:
- Craig Herkert - former CEO of SUPERVALU and former CEO Americas at Wal-Mart
- Stuart Harris - Group President, Digital Transformation at Emerson Automated Solutions
- Darin Lynch - Founder and CEO, Irish Titan
- Andrew Eklund - Founder and CEO, Ciceron
- Jen Swanson - former VP of Digital Product for Optum (a UnitedHealth group) and founder of a digital transformation consulting practice
- Andrew Benson and John Dusek - Co-Founders of Straight Line Theory
- Wendy Blackshaw - CEO, NCAA Women's Final Four 2022 and former SVP Marketing/Sales at the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee
Our goal is to not only to tap into the minds of experts in digital strategy, key enablers such as people, process and platforms and a whole host of digital functional areas including user experience, design, and digital marketing and channels; but also to provide real-life applications about how using digital improves business results and can transform your business. Particularly relevant today as our world is becoming more and more digitally-dependent.
We hope you will join us on this Digital Transformation journey. In the Key of D: Using Digital to Transform your Business. Coming this July to all podcast platforms near you.