One foot in today and one foot in tomorrow.
The past year has been so turbulent and troubling that for many, myself included, it can be hard to feel any significant sense of optimism about the future. Jean-Marc Ollagnier’s vision was thus a timely balm for my rattled nerves. Ollagnier is the Europe CEO of the global consultancy firm Accenture. With his work, he straddles “one foot in today, one foot in tomorrow”. While he concedes that the foot in today is painful, for him, the foot in tomorrow is one of promise and opportunities. What’s more, for Ollagnier in terms of geopolitics and business the ‘stars are more and more aligned’ to get things right.
"We need to look at what's next"
We all know the old adage ‘all good things must come to an end’. Ollagnier works on the same principle when it comes to the pandemic, but in this case, in reverse, all bad things must come to an end. “There will be an end to this crisis like any crisis and we need to look at what's next, at what the new normal will look like,” he tells me.
Like many of the disruptors I have spoken to for Ollagnier the pandemic is an accelerator of change at a time of planetary urgency. In a nutshell, his way forward is the following: “We really need to redesign the way we do business to become in a simple way more digital, but also more sustainable in order to deal with one of the biggest challenges the planet has to face, which is climate change.”
Accenture has identified what it terms a Twin Transformation. The industry ingredients for success are coupling digital and sustainability revolutions.
“The companies that will master digital technology and the companies that will put sustainability at the heart of that strategy will probably be the winners in this future world. So having a perfect understanding of the two trends, of those two technologies is going to be critical,” said Ollagnier.
"Acknowledge that you don't know"
This business leader has his work cut out for him. The task ahead of him, like for ” many leaders, is to understand these new markets, this new opportunity, to shape and get prepared for it and to explain it to your team”. Covid-19 has given him pointers as to how to go about this; “when you are dealing with something you don't know, the best thing you can do is to acknowledge that you don't know. I always thought being humble was probably a good thing, but now it's really a very good thing and that's something that many leaders struggle with.”
I ask Ollagnier to commit further to his vision for the future and tell me where he places the odds of the world setting itself on what he sees as the right course. With all due humility, the odds he shares are pleasingly high. In fact on a scale of one to 10, he places his hopes firmly at eight and above. So more than a glimmer but a much-needed beacon of hope on the horizon.