Clevermint is 7 years old… what I’ve learned as founder.
7 years ago, I founded Clevermint, a digital strategy agency.
The agency’s mission was, and still is, to support companies, mainly SMEs, in their digital transformation.
Indeed, it has to be said that the vast majority of Belgian SMEs are still very poorly equipped in terms of digital tools. Helping these companies to become more efficient, more agile and more effective was the dream I had when I launched the company.
Find out below what I’ve learned over the years, what I think about Digital Transformation of companies after having led more than a hundred projects on the subject, and finally what I hope for the years to come.
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Then I describe what we’ve learned from our failures and successes, and finally what I’ve learned about managing the human factor.
Since Clevermint was founded, after 4 years in a rather favorable economic climate, we’re now in our 3rd consecutive year of development in a context of crisis (health crisis linked to COVID-19, economic and energy crisis with their consequences: inflation, recession, public debt, loss of purchasing power, etc., not to mention the global ecological crisis). This brought its share of difficulties and questioning, both professionally (with Clevermint) and personally.
It was during these years that I came to understand the importance of “resilience“, the ability to absorb and overcome shocks.
As an entrepreneur, I’m constantly in “action”, in the will to get things done. But over the years I’ve learned the importance of reflection. In times of change (which are intrinsic to any period of crisis), it’s always been tempting for me to be constantly in action. However, I’ve learned (and I still have a long way to go) that reflection and re-evaluation of situations are just as important. That’s why I now try to keep an eye on the company’s vision and strategy, without being solely preoccupied with day-to-day operations.
In terms of Clevermint’s organization and teams, this resilience is based on 5 axes:
A concept that’s easier to write than to apply, especially if failure has economic implications, but it’s still an essential part of continuing to grow.
For everyone to be committed to the company, you obviously need to have a good vision and communicate it, but above all you need to be transparent about what you really want to do. What I try to do is not only communicate with people, but also involve them in the evolution of our company (for our employees), or their projects (for our customers).
My employees are the guarantors on whom I can rely. They ensure the positive development of the company. They have a fundamentally positive attitude, are motivated and develop creative ideas and strategies to move the company and its customers forward.
We have 3 different types of “transformation model” to work on: 1. Digital Transformation of an existing model (for example, how digital tools could improve customer service for a construction company); 2. Digital Transformation for new services or positioning (e.g., banks that have developed an all-digital service portfolio); 3. Digital Transformation for research and development (R&D) to drive innovation (e.g., launching a start-up to experiment with radically new ideas: completely different services or business models).
It’s by exploring these opportunities that we’ll be able to help our customers grow in their respective Digital Transformations.
You have to know how to take risks: no risk, no growth!
We know that to ensure the long-term success of our company, we need to invest in the trust of our customers, in the people who work here, in the innovation that drives us and in our ability to make digital accessible to all.
We know that all (good) innovation is centered on the customer and his real needs.
The next major turning point we are taking is SUSTAINABILITY. We want to use sustainability as a lever for innovation, agility and impact, both for Clevermint and its customers.
We want to play an active part – given our size and resources – in resolving the major challenges we all face, as companies and as individuals. We believe that the economy can only prosper if the planet and its inhabitants are well off.
Taking “sustainability” as an indicator of success is not antithetical to that success.
Taking the criterion of ‘sustainability’ as an indicator of success is not antithetical to that success.”
The major difficulty in a Digital Transformation is not so much a technical or technological difficulty, but rather a challenge in relation to the people who will be using these technologies. This importance of the human factor, and the relationship that will be created between people and technology, has been a real discovery over the years, and is still greatly underestimated.
Investing in technology alone will not make your digital projects a success. There is obviously a need for technological investment, but above all organizational change (at individual, team and organizational levels) will be the key to success.
Digital Transformation is not just about technology, it’s about business growth. And it’s this business growth that we need to invest in.
Companies whose Digital Transformation has been a success are those that have focused on business growth (and not on technology), and included people in the transformation.
Uncertainty… and many more changes to come.
I hope I can continue to be resilient. Not everything will go according to plan, I’m really going to have to get used to it 🙂
I hope to come to terms with this ongoing change, and turn it into an opportunity for positive change in the world. My personal goal, admittedly a little naive but no less sincere, is to have a positive impact on the world.
Ultimately, I want to keep the passion and curiosity that drive me and make the pursuit of this dream possible. This curiosity and desire are undoubtedly the keys to an enlightened future. I can only continue to lead if I continue to learn and grow.
Would you like to share your experience with us?