Understanding Bears Success

Contrary to convention, the list of concepts in this glossary is ordered by its importance to our practice rather than alphabetically.

Digital Strategy

Is a deliberate avenue of action in which the competitive advantage comes from using digital technologies and information advantageously with the aim to re-define or create anew a field of play within a marketplace. In the field of play under influence, the interactions, experiences, distribution, and transactions are to be determined, in part or greatly, by digital technology.

A digital strategy encompasses both strategy and execution: deciding the field of play the organisation can carve up with digital technology; deciding what to re-define or create anew and how to do it; determining the digital capabilities necessary for doing so successfully; managing the adequate supply of capabilities.

While having a digital strategy does not mean that an organisation will gain or retain control of a given field of play in a marketplace, the lack of a digital strategy will put it, given time, at a disadvantage. From the perspective of the competitivity of an organisation, a digital strategy is necessary but not sufficient for conquering a market.

The adequate supply of the many capabilities needed to implement a digital strategy constitutes, over time, the most fragile aspect of its execution. The ability to consistently obtain, train, and retain a highly digital-able staff may well constitute a competitive advantage in itself, at least in some markets. Cultural shifts such as Design Thinking and DevOps, which improve inputs and increase velocity, make the quality of the staff more important than their numbers.

Source: Convergnce

Digital Transformation

Is the socio-cultural and economic transformation of global society due to the pervasiveness of digitalisation. It started with the rise of the personal computer, since about 1990, as this firstly enabled digitisation and digitalisation.

Digitisation is the conversion of data and information from analogue to digital.  Digitisation improves with time as the number of sensors producing digital data increases and the quality of said data improves.
Digitalisation is the process by which digital information is used to enable new and better ways of performing transactions and to allow operations that were previously unfeasible in an analogue world. The increase in digitised data (quantity, kind, and quality) creates more opportunities for digitalisation.

For organisations, Digital Transformation is a double-edged sword which represents both a chance for increased profitability and a threat of market upheaval and economic loss.
On the favourable side, digital transformation can become the way in which organisations unravel operational productivity, enhance their market engagement, or unlock previously untapped, even non-existent, markets.
On the negative side, competitors might beat one to the punch and eat one's market share, an organisation's raison d'etre might be technologically disrupted away or seriously maimed, the organisation might lose competitiveness due to badly implemented digital initiatives, on an even larger scale the implementation of the digital strategy and transformation itself may fail, or it may fall prey to any of a raft of digital risks.

The reason Digital Transformation is now mainstream has to do with its having reached a tipping point: what had been slowly building up since about 1990 reached a point of inflection between 2008 and 2014. In those seven-odd years the following technologies hit the market or reached maturity: the smartphone, cloud computing, tablets, meaningful and ubiquitous mobile broadband, digital content streaming, the mobile apps ecosystem, "smarts" for TV screens, and connected sensors with computing capacity a.k.a. the Internet of things. Critically, over this period the installed base of connected personal-computing-able (personal computers, smartphones, tablets) devices increased manyfold.

Source: Convergnce

Digital Risk

Is the risk resulting from an organisation having digitised its data or digitalised its processes. Prior to social media and mainstream e-commerce its footprint coincided mostly with that of information technology risks but digitally enabled stakeholder interaction and ubiquitous digital transactions have increased that risk surface.

Digital risk may come from the following areas:
• cyber security risks related to the use of information technology to run the organisation's operations;
• privacy risks related to the storage or processing of personal private information;
• risk related to the organisation's engagement with stakeholders via digitally-enabled platforms;
• building/enhancing/distributing products or services using digital technologies;
• via digital linkages with the information technology infrastructure of an organisation’s value chain;
• information technology supply-chain related risks;
• cyber security risks of every organisation or person who is part of the organisation’s supply chain, a provider, or a client;
• due to the fact that all information technology projects are inherently risky in terms of their completion and outcomes;
• and because of the ever-changing nature of information technologies themselves.

Source: Convergnce


Privacy rights are human rights.

"The protection of natural persons in relation to the processing of personal data is a fundamental right."
"The principles of, and rules on the protection of national persons with regard to the processing of their personal data should, whatever their nationality or residence, respect their fundamental rights and freedoms, in particular their right to the protection of personal data."

Source: Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)

People ▹ Process ▹ Technology
[subject to: Culture, Leadership]

Is a systems approach to understanding how an organisation works towards producing outcomes. Rather than understanding the organisation as a series of abstract functions (operations, finance, legal, etc.) it is understood as groups of people, who work on processes, which are supported by tools/technology, in order to produce the outcomes that are the reason for the organisation's existence. 

In this management model practice has proven time and time again that, from a point of view of priority, People comes before Process and process before Technology. This means that it is the people who do the work who should have command over the processes and that the technology should be used to make the process efficient. Attempts to change this order of priority usually end up resulting in organisational malady. Sometimes, the effects of leadership or culture can modify this effect.

Leadership functions by setting directions and enforcing them through authority and charisma. Its role in this model is to keep the outcomes aligned with the strategy, to advocate for change, to communicate and co-ordinate, and to safeguard the organisational discipline.
Culture is product of the the way in which people interact and work together as a community in an organisation, their values, the way they treat each other, and relate. Culture can unite or divide an organisation. It is always evolving but it is very hard to change deliberately as it behaves like a living organism.

People to Process to Technology operates subject to the help or friction that the organisation's Leadership and Culture impose. 

Source: Convergnce

Integrative Thinking

Is "the ability to face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each."

Source: Rotman University. What is Integrative Thinking. Retrieved September 1, 2018, from

Design Thinking

"Design thinking is an ideology supported by an accompanying process. A complete definition requires an understanding of both.
Definition: The design-thinking ideology asserts that a hands-on, user-centric approach to problem solving can lead to innovation, and innovation can lead to differentiation and a competitive advantage. This hands-on, user-centric approach is defined by the design-thinking process and comprises 6 distinct phases (...) The design-thinking framework follows an overall flow of 1) understand, 2) explore, and 3) materialize. Within these larger buckets fall the 6 phases: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, test, and implement."

Source: Nielsen Norman Group. What is Design Thinking. Retrieved September 1, 2018, from

Agile Software Development [Manifesto]

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development: 
"We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
• Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
• Working software over comprehensive documentation
• Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
• Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more."

Source: Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Retrieved September 2, 2018, from

Note: Since the inception of the Agile movement certain branchings have occurred (i.e. Extreme Programming, Scrum), some good and some not so, and many consulting firms have jumped in the bandwagon. This has resulted in an erosion of the original manifesto and principles as set by the authors. The same has happened to other management methodologies and frameworks when becoming popular, sometimes to their detriment and even destruction. Here is an article by Ron Jeffries denouncing this situation in the world of Agile and suggesting that Developers Should Abandon Agile

Agile Software Development [Principles]

Principles behind the Agile Manifesto:
"We follow these principles:
• Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
• Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer's competitive advantage.
• Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
• Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
• Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, 
and trust them to get the job done.
• The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
• Working software is the primary measure of progress.
• Agile processes promote sustainable development. 
• The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
• Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
• Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.
• The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
• At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly."

Source: Principles behind the Agile Manifesto. Retrieved September 2, 2018, from

Change Management

Is a management methodology that defines a process for creating major change in organisations as well as the body of knowledge that puts that process into context and highlights the challenges it faces:

  1. Establishing a sense of urgency.

  2. Creating the guiding coalition.

  3. Developing a vision and a strategy.

  4. Communicating the vision.

  5. Empowering broad-based action.

  6. Generating short-term wins.

  7. Consolidating gains and producing more change.

  8. Anchoring new approaches in the culture.

Source: Kotter, John P. (2012), Leading Change, Boston, MA, Harvard Business Review Press  

Human-Centred Design [Principles of...]

  1. Be human centred.

  2. Find the right problem.

  3. Think of everything as a system.

Source: Nielsen Norman Group. Principles of Human-Centered Design. Retrieved September 5, 2018, from