12 June 2019

Ask a consultant: Are you using "digital" wrong?

Design thinking, agile mindset, there’s a lot of buzz around it all. How should we make sense of it—and why should we even care? We talk with our CX Consultant Nadir Ghidouche about this and other topics, like what consultants really do, what internet phenomenon is his weakness, and why you’re probably using the term “digital” wrong.

So, agile? Digital thinking? Nadir explains, “let’s define it first. It’s a mix of digital evangelization, transformation and change/project management, with a focus on human experiences: of customers, users, colleagues… I’m very happy that companies, with the help of niche players like Ariad, are becoming more concerned about those experiences and the huge impact that digital ecosystems can have on them. This is really so important because it has a serious impact on the way we live, interact, learn and almost everything in life.”

What is means to be digital

Speaking of buzz, using industry jargon is something of a competitive sport these days. Buzzwords Nadir can’t stand? “I’ll surprise you: Digital.

“It’s very often reduced or summarized as a set of IT tools like apps and websites, new tech and devices, but that’s only part of the story. As with Agile, Design Thinking, UX… Digital now is really a mindset, wrapped up in a shared, specific culture and values: transparency, openness, co-creation, and experimentation. It’s not because you have a development team, or a marketing team, budget or tools that you’re doing digital.

“As a professional, I would say LinkedIn is a perfect example of what digital is. There you can share knowledge, experiences, learn new tools, techniques and strengthen your soft skills and always aware of new trends in your field.”

Helping organizations and people move from tools to a mindset, adopt design thinking, apply real agile practices—and not just slapping the label digital on everything to make it seem cool are hard enough tasks, and of course, there are major challenges: “to adapt constantly in a world that’s getting faster, while maintaining an innovative digital and offline ecosystem--in order to build seamless and exceptional customer journeys.” Nadir adds that the biggest unknown facing his field now is clear: “Human, as always!”

Though as humans, we still have a lot of predictable behavior. Even Nadir himself succumbs to one of the internet’s great afflictions: “I do love lolcat videos! Yes, it’s so common and cliché, but I assume totally my sins.”

The path to here

How did Nadir get his start? His path has been full of turns; as he explains, “life isn’t that simple, she is always playing with you! So you never know exactly where you’ll be tomorrow and what to expect. Some call it uncertainty, I call it exciting... to some extent of course.” Nadir’s fascination for learning about customers, their psychology, and the tools for engaging with them lead him to a degree in marketing. He worked in IT, but took on many, many different kinds of projects that pulled him in a different direction. “I realized in that time that understanding customers’ feelings, attitudes and behaviors, which we can summarize as customer experience, was the key, and committed myself to always keep an eye on it when building or improving products or (re)designing experiences. Maybe we can say I checked the case ‘active listening’.

“I became a facilitator, you know that person who clears the obstacles for the others in their projects, or the one that we call when we need info, formal or informal: tips, tools, contacts... everything that can empower you and boost your project, which in return, helped me build a wonderful and strongly engaged network.

“Then there was an unexpected turn, I call it: How design changed my life. I was selected study a very intensive Design Thinking training. I discovered its benefits, fell in love with the approach, and the most important, I had the chance to apply it to digital projects, and see that it really works.”

Life as a consultant

Recently, there was another important turn: joining Ariad as a consultant. “I met Ariad thanks to a young, talented Recruitment Consultant & Community Manager. Jocelyn contacted me because she was looking for a digital profile. I was impressed with her warmth and professionalism, and to see that she took time to really analyze my profile, when others competitors just kept spamming me.


“After taking the time to get to know the company and attend their events, I was able to understand Ariad’s values and mindset and was convinced. I appreciate that Ariad is human-focused, transparent, very reactive… and agile! Without any hesitation.”

Nadir admits that there can be negative misconceptions about consultants: that they can be internal competitors, or spend excessive money spent with no proven ROI. He even admits that at one point, he himself was mistrusting! “Why? I have no real idea, maybe due to bad experience with the major consultancy firms I guess. Luckily, I changed my mind when I met some freelance and in-house consultants from Ariad. I realized that they were getting their hands dirty, really working on added value projects and making a huge impact on our partners.” Now he is looking forward to taking on impactful work himself, and working on varied projects in different environments and teams. It’s all about growing through new experiences.

Nadir also offered advice for those who are thinking of beginning a career in consulting: just go for it! “If you’re open-minded and customer oriented, a facilitator constantly looking out for new projects & experiences --and the most important, if you’re in need of freedom! You may consider starting with the help of Ariad, so you’re sure that you’ll have enough fuel to launch your new career as a consultant successfully. The sky won’t even be the limit!”

Send Nadir your best memes, or come chat about design thinking at his Ariad Talk next week! He’ll host an interactive workshop on “Digital Thinking & Digital Energy”, where you’ll learn some definitions, good practices, tools & positivity. This session is a must for project managers, change managers, and leaders of all kinds. For more information, get in touch with Kenny Van Eycken.

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