It might feel like I’m reaching – but let me explain what Marvel did, which can be applied to business transformation:
1.    They started with the end in mind
2.    They took iterative steps toward that end
3.    They didn’t force all the on-going narratives to intertwine
4.    They created a culture, following, demand & need.
5.    They had heroes with superpowers and a supervillain hell-bent on universal domination

OK, so hopefully you can’t relate to number 5. But the other 4 certainly are relateable, if you just think about it:

  1. The person in charge of executing the vision needs to be the right person. Kevin Feige has led that vision (with help from Stan Lee) and has been unwavering in his purpose.
  2. Look at your end users and really understand what ‘stories’ they are most interested in. What do your customers actually want.
  3. Look at a timeline that is feasible, look at the processes (or stories) that can eventually intertwine, what’s the journey we need to go on to get to our end state
  4. Prototype ideas… its OK to start small. If it doesn’t work, why not? What can we do differently?
  5. Accept failure. Sometimes you need to just cut your losses on a project. The X-Men didn’t belong in the saga. Blockchain wasn’t the silver bullet the 495870358 use cases seemed to suggest.
  6. Take people on the journey, were incredibly guilty of talking about our failures and misery loves company. Talk about those wins, get your proverbial winners-plate out and bang it off the table until people listen.
  7. Take risks. Try something different. How many people had heard about Guardians of the Galaxy before it exploded onto the scene and become one of the best loved movies in the Marvel stable?
  8. Blend user engagement with return on investment; there’s a big-old hierarchy of folks in a business with lots of different requirements, some of them will directly conflict with each other. It’s a problem but it’s your problem.

Now there is always an argument that any franchise which brings together several loved characters into one movie would always have worked but to that I rebuttal with DC Universe. Remember Justice League? No..? You know, the one with Batman, Superman & Wonder Woman? Don’t kick yourself too much if you don’t.

So, why didn’t it work?
1.    The idea was great
2.    It has lots of great components/individuals
3.    The narrative was pretty good

It didn’t work because they didn’t lay the groundwork. They jumped straight to the outcome they wanted, which was a big blockbuster franchise that made everyone love their characters.  They knew the outcome they wanted, they just ran straight to the end, without putting the effort into the journey to get there.

Sound familiar? The best organisations understand their common purpose and goal, but they appreciate it will take time and effort to get there. You can’t just take every single business problem and try and force them into one solution to make everyone happy. In reality what needs to happen is that you understand all of the business problems, understand an end state you are aiming for and paint the strategy for your people.

I’ll give you an example. Some organisations want to eliminate their dependency on  Excel/Access/SharePoint because well, it doesn’t exactly scream ‘Digital Transformation’ but the truth is these items are perfectly fine conduits for bigger, strategical movements.

Being absolutely transparent, this content was stemmed from a conversation with a former colleague: Jake Robson. He made the quip during a transformation project that “we want to be Marvel but we’re looking more like DC” and it’s stuck with me.

  1. So here are my 8 ah-ha moments from the Marvel Universe (after reflecting on this for the last year! ):
  2. The person in charge of executing the vision needs to be the right person. Kevin Feige has led that vision (with help from Stan Lee) and has been unwavering in his purpose.
  3. Look at your end users and really understand what ‘stories’ they are most interested in. What do your customers actually want.
  4. Look at a timeline that is feasible, look at the processes (or stories) that can eventually intertwine, what’s the journey we need to go on to get to our end state
  5. Prototype ideas… it’s OK to start small. If it doesn’t work, why not? What can we do differently?
  6. Accept failure. Sometimes you need to just cut your losses on a project. The X-Men didn’t belong in the saga. Blockchain wasn’t the silver bullet the 495870358 use cases seemed to suggest.
  7. Take people on the journey, were incredibly guilty of talking about our failures and misery loves company. Talk about those wins, get your proverbial winners-plate out and bang it off the table until people listen.
  8. Take risks. Try something different. How many people had heard about Guardians of the Galaxy before it exploded onto the scene and become one of the best-loved movies in the Marvel stable?
  9. Blend user engagement with return on investment; there’s a big-old hierarchy of folks in a business with lots of different requirements, some of them will directly conflict with each other. It’s a problem but it’s your problem.

Good luck!