How to hold on to innovation during uncertain times?

These days, organizations have to decide on this difficult trade-off: do we minimize digital investments in times of crisis, or do we dare to innovate for a sustainable future? Jan Sonck helps businesses make the right choice.

The Innovator’s Dilemma, published in 1997, is the best-known work of Harvard professor Clayton Christensen. The author expands on the concepts of ‘disruptive innovation’. The need to invest in the exploration of new opportunities versus existing customers and products is mainly what is being argued.

Jan Sonck, Partnerships & Ecosystems Strategy Manager at Proximus: "I developed a simple three-lens model to help you look at digital ideas, to facilitate smart choices and succeed in times of crisis and in the future."


Jan has been active in the IT sector for 30 years. He has fulfilled missions in sales, marketing, business development and innovation. At Proximus, Jan is now Partnerships & Ecosystems Strategy Manager.

The three-lens model to help you look at digital ideas


Translate the sustainability of your intentions

Jan: “Boldly define if you want to embed digital innovation throughout the entire organization. Or else, if you wish to limit resources to tactical cultural change programs or the making of adjacent products or services. In other words, are your teams looking for tweaks to impact the short term, do they want to accelerate change by reacting to broader societal trends, or is there openness to challenge the status quo with really disruptive inventions."


Expressed by the business impact you have in mind

Jan: “The easiest way to decide on scope is to apply scenario planning techniques. Imagine how an employee, an enterprise or an economy could look like in 10 years. Draw up some optimistic scenarios for all three environments. Then define if and what your organization is willing to invest to improve employee engagement, enterprise-wide digital change or even economic transformation."


Decide on the impact of digital technology

Jan: ”By approaching digital in a systemic way, making choices will become easier. If you wish to digitize individual processes, the combination of a good idea with digital enablers like IoT sensors, artificial intelligence, or chatbots will help to optimize digitally. When change of entire business domains is required, you won’t escape a company-wide digital transformation program. Otherwise, if there is an ambition to incorporate a ‘data driven by design’ strategy to operate in open ecosystems, a disruptive mindset is a real necessity."

Finally, let's connect the dots across the three lenses

Jan: "In periods of crisis, you can escape the innovator’s dilemma by funneling energy and spending money wisely. Questioning yourself by evaluating the horizon, scope and depth of digital innovation will guide your organization towards sustainability with more room for entrepreneurship, ROI and societal impact.”