Ralph Welborn has spent over twenty-five years providing business and technology advisors services to both private and public sector organizations globally. He has held a variety of leadership positions, including CEO of Imaginatik, the market-leading innovation advisory and platform company; Leader of IBM's Strategy & Transformation business in the Middle East and Africa; senior vice president at KPMG Consulting. He has lived and worked around the world. In 2016 he received the European CEO award for technology companies.
Mr. Welborn has spoken to audiences as varied as
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Video clips of Mr. Welborn speaking:
Potential Lecture Topics:
Beyond Digital Transformation – because it’s time to be pragmatic: 5 steps to take
75% of innovation programs & digital transformation efforts fail.
The promise of these programs is seductive: Use all the digital technologies & the new (buzzwords underlying) innovation at your disposal and capture new sources of value in new ways… … where capturing this value is supposed to have profound implications on: • Customers to engage • Assets to transform • Ecosystems to shape • (new types of) value to capture, and • Business models to shift. The problem is: it’s not working out that way for the majority of organizations. Why is that? 1. They are often “technology-push” based, without a clear focus on the new sources of value to capture, beyond a slogan. “Our partners brought us deep cloud, scrum and analytic capabilities, but without a clear focus on where to focus them.” (Global Transformation Leader of one of the world’s largest ongoing transformation projects) 2. Executive alignment of where to go and how to get there does not exist. “Our executives use the same language, but mean different things by them, making execution confusing and conflicting over time.” (COO of global health insurance company) 3. They often run the Red Queen Race (the character from Alice in Wonderland) who runs faster & faster but stays in the same (competitive place). “If we’re all investing in the same types of technologies and models, then what will be different over time?” (CEO of global bank) A changed competitive world requires new ways to make sense to take advantages of those changes. The blunt reality is that businesses are optimized for a world that no longer exists. Clearly, what made you successful before will not be what will make you successful again. But here’s the challenge. Many recognize this. It’s knowing what to do that’s the challenge. This discussion explores patterns of challenges – engaging you along the way – and most importantly, shares 5 steps to take to go beyond the typical approach to digital transformation… because the world has changed. It is drawn from nearly every industry from most parts of the world.
The 4 Lessons from Explosive Growth Companies – because businesses typically look for growth in all the wrong places
The Red Queen is my favorite character from the book, Alice in Wonderland. Remember her? She’s the character who runs faster and faster but stays in the same (competitive) place. Sound familiar? Have you ever invested in similar technologies in similar ways as your competitors but end up after a few years in the same relative competitive place as before? Ever not? Here’s the blunt reality. Our competitive landscape has changed for good – as measured by existing or new competitors nibbling away at our customer base, competitive position and/or profitability. If this isn’t rough enough, consider two data points: • Economic profit accrues to the top quintile in a “power-curve” pattern, leaving well over 85% of organizations to wrestle over incremental improvements in an ever tougher competitive position vis-à-vis market leaders – in an increasing “winner take all” world. • Digital transformation, a hoped-for solution to change one’s competitive position struggles over 75% of the time to meet its objectives. So, what do you do? You have three options. #1: do nothing but watch what’s going on. #2: try to do what everyone is doing – thereby continuing to run the Red Queen race, or #3: explore what you might do different. This talk focuses on option #3. It distills the 4 lessons from explosive growth companies around the world – and what they could mean for you, and how you engage your customers, your stakeholders and your markets.
Where to Play in an Uncertain Competitive Environment – where strategic planning meets pragmatic execution
We can’t predict the future. But we can shape it directionally… if we have insight into what possible futures might be and then figure out how to engage in it. But how do you do that? We’ve all heard about scenarios and scenario planning. Increasingly, bold executives are asking their executive teams to ‘think’ beyond the 1-year plans or even the 3-year rolling plans based on linear extrapolations of trends and what existing business performance and build scenario planning into their strategic and execution plans. Ok. But how do you do that? And here it gets interesting. Scenario planning has evolved over the past 30 years, rapidly recently – shifting from “story-telling” based on looking at markets to the use of rich analytic insights and machine learning that align strategic possibilities with execution implications. When I was doing scenario work with the Shell Scenario Planning group years ago – the first generation of scenario work – one of the Shell executives mentioned how much he enjoyed doing the scenario work. But, he added, “I have decisions I need to make every day and am not sure how such storytelling helps me do that.” From that day forward, we shifted our focus towards what I called, “where future-back possibilities meet present-forward capabilities.” It became clear that the key to effective scenario work would involve tying capital allocation decisions to strategic possibilities under different conditions. Doing this required methods and frameworks to clarify the implications (and ripple effects) of decisions made and actions taken – aligning insight to actions you could take immediately and adapt as conditions change. There have been 4 generations of such “decision making under changing conditions” (formally called scenario planning). This discussion describes these generations and explores how the one we are rapidly getting into – based on the leverage of platform-based insight and guidance – is changing the game of strategic decision making, and planning.
Workforce of the Future – because it matters.
There are few topics more important in today’s business than insight into the workforce of the future and how to adapt to a changed competitive environment. Executives tend to struggle to figure out how to deal with these topics. They struggle, as well, with dealing with a third critical topic: how different types of technologies will impact their businesses, their value chains and how they deliver new sources of value in new ways. From my perspective, a key problem is: businesses tend to be optimized for a world that no longer exists. They consequently struggle both to ‘make sense’ and ‘take action’ on these critical topics. And here it gets interesting – and powerfully pragmatic. 70% of the value that every organization delivers is based on approximately 20% of capabilities (skill-sets, behavioral patterns and technology assets). Stated differently, capabilities underlie all execution. They comprise the underlying “infrastructure” of what it is any and all organizations do and how they do it. The challenge is: Technologies evolve. Markets shift. Customer expectations change. Which means that the 20% of capabilities that made you successful to date will not be the 20% critical to capture new sources of value tomorrow. With implications on what you do, how you do, your workforce of the future and how you harness different types of technologies to get done what you need to get done. This discussion provides a pragmatic framework and shares lessons, built over years of global transformation and technology work with all-sized companies on every major continent (ok, not Antarctica) of how to make sense and take action on “the new 20%” of capabilities critical to capture new sources of value in new ways – because it matters.