From the floor of the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo, Peter Linder examines five lessons from university that has helped prepare him to negotiate the uncertainty of digital transformation.

A growing number of executives are challenged by how to manage their business in a world with more uncertainty than ever. I have found this scenario to be very similar to how I felt during my university days. 

1. You need a big bold target 

You might face large near-term uncertainties, but you can often still articulate a clear idea of where you want to go as a company. This decision remains critical and cannot be ignored or de-prioritized. 

At university this is like choosing a career direction - in my case, a Master of Science. 

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2. First challenges first

What is most critical is to decide on what to do the next 90 days, especially the first 90 days when you step into a new role. Then you need recurring 90 day execution plans as you proceed. Realistically you can initially handle three priorities per quarter and increase up to five once you are operating at maximum potential. 

This is a bit how many approach each semester at school. In my case, three subjects in parallel over an eight-week period. And a strong desire to cover all three in all semesters. 

3. Work with a defined curriculum

The order of activities matters. You aspire to be adaptable to market changes but can expect clear patterns in how you bring offerings to markets and how you scale sales. Look for patterns in the opportunity development process for your lead customers. Of equal importance is to develop how you look at scaling proven business opportunities. The architecture of how you do things is essential for success. 

At university we stuck to a curriculum that was firm the first years and opened up for flexibility in selections at the end. It was essential to take Math A, B and C in the right order and before moving on to advanced dalculus and physics classes. And few of us would have been able to construct our own curriculum.

4. Teamwork to overcome hurdles 

Working under great uncertainty requires teamwork. One brain is not enough to crack difficult problems. Diverse teams are key set high enough goals and complete a big chunk of them. 

My lifeline during my studies was a group in the same class - some better in math, some in programming. They were a lifeline used almost daily. 

5. Relate to something all can understand

When managing situations of great uncertainty, you need to standardize things you know will happen in order to allow for flexibility for uncertain things. Good news is everything that is not uncertain, and chaos is not a structure to aim for. 

When you are overwhelmed by digital transformation, the experiences from your university days is likely to be a common denominator for your team members. Lay out these five points and start brainstorming to establish a curriculum for your business challenge.

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Digital Industrialization

Peter Linder

Peter Linder is Head of Business Management and Sales Support for Business Unit IT & Cloud Products towards Region North America. Since 2011 Peter has been based in North America in various management roles for the development of Ericsson’s cloud and IP Business in the US and Canada. He is also a Network Society evangelist appointed in the original group in 2011 and an intrapreneur dedicated to learning and sharing insights on how the digital transformation is reshaping future networks.

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