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Looking Forward to 2022

A Guide to Readiness for Change and Transformation

Issue 36: December 28, 2021

As we look back over the past year, it is remarkable to note how resilient we are as human beings and together as a society, which extends to our organizations and their culture. Leading in a time of ambiguity can be exhausting and meeting all stakeholders’ expectations is never-ending.  At 2040, we work with our clients to navigate the sea changes that have reshaped and re-engineered how we conduct business. Our key focus is the human factor, critical thinking and how to control bias in managing people, process, products and profit. We advocate systems thinking problem solving and holistic approaches that sustain a collaborative, collegial culture. Running a business today is fraught with landmines; we know how to avoid them and build a healthy, enlightened organization.

In remembrance of a year past, we offer you this index of thought leadership position pieces that can help you manage transformation and strengthen your organization to be competitive in a complex, ever-evolving digital marketplace and in meeting your current and prospective customers’ needs and wants.



Marketing Orientation

Market orientation reveals the truth about transformation and how human factors and behaviors impact the organizational system. It isn’t about “marketing,” it isn’t about “sales,” and it isn’t about “product management.” It is focused on the human elements of an organization-wide system that must cohesively align for a shared purpose.

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Readiness for Transformation

Many organizations are passionate about transforming their business models to be more competitive in a digital marketplace, catalyzed by customer/member/client demand. However, organizations with traditional business practices are particularly challenged by bridging the theory of transformation to the actual practice of implementing it.

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Managing Individual and Team Transitions for Transformation Success

The human element of any change or transformation effort is often overlooked or not even considered. Leaders assume the hierarchy of management and staff will simply follow direction and bring the strategies and goals to life. With command-and-control leadership, assumptions are made that those responsible for operational and organizational change understand what to do or will figure out what to do to meet the set direction.

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How Critical Thinking Is Essential to Transformation and Reducing Bias

The issue and challenge facing most organizations, even more so in the uncharted dynamic business environment post-Covid, is the lack of individual and group critical thinking that sets aside the past and historical ways of operating and managing an organization, removes inherent biases and deep institutional knowledge.

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Leading With Courage

If leading and living through the trifecta of a global health crisis, disruptive financial markets and civil discord doesn’t require courage, what does?  The current environment appears to be out of control to many of us. In the United States, our politics have grown increasingly divisive, the climate appears to be getting more extreme, inflation is impacting everyone’s pocketbook, and the global health crisis with changing daily information have increased feelings of ambiguity.

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Leading in a Time of Ambiguity

Defining a vision of success is a lynchpin to mastering leadership in ambiguous times.  If you develop a vision of success with the input of your teams you can work backwards to developing a plan for success.  Living though a pandemic is shadowed by nearly constant uncertainty.  We take three steps forward, two sideways and unfortunately, then three steps backwards.  Innovators have been able to pivot and transform their business models to meet the needs of their stakeholders.

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Great Expectations

In a highly complex civic, socioeconomic and communications environment, there is enormous pressure on organizations to respond to everything that is happening. Customers rely on organizational leaders to speak out and lead. However, as much as people want leadership, there is a veneer of disbelief and incredibility that colors messaging from leaders of all types of enterprises, private and public.

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 Decision Making in the Digital Age

Younger generations are more willing to embrace change; 76% of executives in their 30s or younger look for opportunities to leverage new technology to achieve business goals. Plus, 67% of them see risk as opportunity, not danger.

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Decision Making and Primitive Automaticity

Today we are on the technology train that is beginning to feel like a runaway train.  We need to get off the train and apply critical thinking across how we and society are being influenced, fundamentally changed and manipulated by technology.

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The Fault in Ourselves

It may be impossible to eliminate bias, but it is within reach to be aware of it and mitigate and manage it and all if its manifestations. Self-knowledge is important for everyone – leaders, managers, supervisors and their teams, comprising groups of multigenerational, racially, sexually and ethnically diverse individuals– because bias exists at all levels. It is inherent in our evolutionary programming.

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The Art and Science of Active Listening

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.

We live in a digital world with a lot of surface noise. A world in which we are time pressed — or at least feel as if we are — and we simply want to know what we think we need to know in the shortest amount of time. This relates to most of our interactions, discussions, and conversations.

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How Pattern Recognition Drives High Performance

Effective leaders have great pattern-recognition skills, and over time build pattern libraries in their minds that enable them to easily spot trends, detect shifts in the organization and look at issues and opportunities from a much greater distance.

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Agility-Resilience: The Post-Pandemic Model

Although you may think an agility-resilience model may not relate to your own organization, it frames the strategies and operations of the industry you serve. And what better time is there to master agility-resilience than responding to the fallout of a global pandemic?

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Is Your Value Proposition Still Relevant?

The north star for providing value and meaning to stakeholders is your value proposition. And that promise needs to constantly evolve to reflect your stakeholder’s needs and market conditions. Time to check your value proposition.

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A Playbook for Operational Assessment

New goals and attempted pivots at the strategic level often never recognize whether the organization is ready at an operational and process level and with the required staff competencies.

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Context Is Everything

Shared knowledge as an outcome of contextual analysis demands a holistic approach supported by systems thinking and an aligned organizational model to make any initiative successful.

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Innovation Theater

Innovation theater is often conceived and manifested in decisions made at upper levels of the organization, encased as a single-focused strategy without context of how the organization operationally and functionally meets its purpose (producing product, serving customers).

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Measuring What Matters

The desire to return to normal, one that doesn’t exist, overlooks the fact that much has changed and therefore how performance is assessed likewise needs to change. With the drama and disruption of the pandemic, you might think it’s time to re-evaluate your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

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How to Manage a Five Generation Workforce

Many of the generational conversations in the news today rely on false stereotypes and clickbait headlines, rather than taking the time to understand the important differences that are a part of our generational identities.

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Taking the Pulse of Your Employees

When employees’ lack of voice meet head on with a lack of trust and cynicism towards leadership, the great resignation seeps into an otherwise healthy workplace culture. We believe it is time to revisit how the pandemic has reshaped our workstyles and workplaces.

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Communication Theory

Leaders, teams and individuals in organizations not only need to relearn communications skills, but they also need to be sensitive to the moods and mental health of their teams–expressed through communication.

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How Effectively Do You Communicate with Stakeholders?

Are you applying critical thinking and reflecting the diversity of thoughts and values of those whom you need to message effectively?  Tell me something I don’t already know.  Or if you do, tell me in a new way that makes the message relevant to me and useful in my life – both professional and private. More to the point, tell me what it means and why it matters.

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Life Stage Marketing

With the power of data and analytics, segmentation is made more relevant and can be targeted to specific audiences.  However, we raise the red flag on the temptation to overclassify and stereotype generations, professions, and age bands, without recognizing the distinct influences of culture and life stages.

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Customer Loyalty

Personal trust and loyalty are table stakes. Understanding your stakeholders is non-negotiable. Understanding the types of loyalty that your organization should seek is equally non-negotiable. Running an organization that is customer-centric is a marathon.  Human behavior can be mercurial.  Trends from one industry segment suddenly disrupt another sector in the highly connected and interdependent system that comprises society.  Unfortunately, most organizations end up in a defensive mode if they don’t anticipate the future and deeply understand their customers.

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Targeting Engagement, Establishing Trust, and Building Loyalty

One-size-fits-all is passé and with data at your fingertips, you can make yourself matter to each individual. The cynic is us recognizes that we are living in the era of “it’s only about me.” The pragmatist in us also recognizes that as a brand and an organization, if you don’t cater to this mentality, you are likely to become irrelevant.

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The Changing US Privacy Landscape

The friction between balancing personalization with privacy is a challenge for any organization transforming its business to a digital model. Privacy policies established in the European Union a few years ago are guiding new regulations in the US, and recent announcements from American tech companies are preparing us for a new digital data, communications, and marketing reality.

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The Truth about Transformation

Book Preview Excerpt

Organizations, whether private companies, non-profits, charities or governments seek to transform to take advantage of new opportunities, including technological advances. Often, technology is the major driver of change that results in transformation. As a result, the organization often fails to achieve its objective and goal to truly transform. You see, technology remains an enabler, not a silver bullet. True transformative change requires understanding of the human factors at play, human conscious and subconscious behaviors, how humans inter-relate and how society itself and all of its members are changing.

Our workforces are changing, the expertise we need is becoming harder to acquire and roles are shifting. In addition, before and because of Covid in 2020, the world around us is becoming very different, a new reality is taking hold, one that will fundamentally change who we are, how we work and yes, how we seek to ensure organizations transform for today and for the future.

The Truth about Transformation, a new book by Kevin Novak, will soon become available. Enjoy a short preview.ard and upward from the 2040 Team

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