McKinsey and Fortune brought together more than 150 senior executives for the inaugural Brainstorm Reinvent conference, held in Chicago. The participants—representing organizations young and old, digitally native and digitally transitioning—were there to exchange ideas and lessons they’ve learned as their organizations undergo massive shifts created by technology and innovation. The most-discussed learning: the key to successful reinvention is culture.
McKinsey global managing partner Kevin Sneader kicked off the event by reminding executives of the need to continually reinvent their companies. He cautioned against becoming complacent when powerful trends like digitization take longer to bear fruit than anticipated. Kevin used the analogy of the transition from sailing ships to steam ships. Steam power took decades to completely overtake sailing, he explained. Meanwhile, rather than innovate, some ship builders continued to simply try to build a better sailing vessel, often by adding more sails. They became obsolete and missed the chance to become part of the new era of steam.