To Build A New World, We Need To Reimagine It
By Mark Curtis for Little Black Book.
Ahead of Accenture Interactive’s internal ‘ReImagine’ event, head of innovation and thought leadership Mark Curtis outlines how reimagination is helping the company prepare to enter, and reshape, a new world.
One of the most enjoyable parts of working for Accenture Interactive is the sense of vision it affords you. We’re a ten thousand-strong collective, with our colleagues dreaming and designing so many experiences that, when seen combined, knit together into something which can often resemble the fabric of daily life for millions of people.
That kind of scale provides an opportunity – some would argue a responsibility – to be incredibly thoughtful about what we do. Given that we are currently standing at the most pivotal moment in human history since the end of the second world war, it’s not too hyperbolic to suggest that the experiences we design carry an immense potential to reshape the world we inhabit.
There’s a lot of talk at present – in our industry and beyond – about adapting to an uncertain future. At Interactive, however, that’s not quite how we see things. Rather than being reactive and responding to unknowable changes, we want to play the role of active architects, reshaping and reimagining this upcoming new world in a positive image.
That, ultimately, is why we’re hosting our internal ‘Reimagine’ event.
A Flight Of Reimagination
In a first (but perhaps not last) of its kind event at Interactive, we’re gathering our entire organisation under one digital roof. What follows will be a mix of reflecting on what has almost universally been a tough year for everyone, and finding inspiration to move forward in a way which challenges, ignites, and focuses us.
We’ll be drawing on expertise from both inside and outside our own organisation, people who are renowned for their wisdom or great things that they have achieved. There is going to be a focus placed throughout the event on the topics of innovation, creativity, and purpose.
I’m particularly looking forward to hearing from Chade-Meng Tan, an award-winning engineer whose personal motto is that “life is too important to be taken seriously”. Speaking of which, there will be plenty of opportunities to let your hair down at Reimagine. We’ve created an environment we call the Metaverse (a term that is starting to be used in the world to describe virtual places) – don’t ask what it is, the definition is deliberately loose. Music will feature heavily, as well as time to chill out in the middle of it all. We have learned the cadence of these events matters a lot. Any colleagues who don’t see me at one of our arranged talks can expect to catch me later on at our digital rave, for example.
As the lights go down on Reimagine’s final session, my hope is that our curiosity will have been empowered, and we will find ourselves facing in a clear direction as an organisation. On a more individual level, Reimagine will provide for Interactive staff a platform on which to build their own personal ‘brand’.
When I say that, I don’t mean that everyone is going to get big on TikTok and amass 100,000 followers overnight. What I mean is that colleagues can build up an assured sense of ‘self’, and clarity over the role they play in the organisation. It’s about building up your craft and specialisation, to the point that, when faced with a specific challenge, others at Interactive know that you are the person to turn to.
For many companies, practical necessity meant that culture went into a kind of deep freeze at the start of the pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, there are ways in which professional culture has grown – but I would argue that pretty much every organisation has been on a similar journey.
For example, we all know each other’s home life a little more intimately now. We’ve become acquainted with spouses, children, and pets – and the vulnerability that comes with working from home has at least partly been a positive thing, breaking down barriers and strengthening our interpersonal bonds. What we must avoid, however, is getting our culture stuck in the same place it was in March 2020 in perpetuity.
So that’s what’s at the heart of Reimagine. On the one hand, we’re looking to collectively bring our people together like never before. On the other, we’re recognising our collective responsibility to provide experiences which reshape the world. This has been dubbed (elsewhere) a ‘post traumatic growth mentality’. That feels like the right way to think in 2021.
It’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly. But I’m utterly convinced that we’re up to the challenge.
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