The missing link: bridging the gap between business vision and reality

Insights to improve your business performance

Thriving in the digital world means executing your ideas faster than ever before. Professionals from KPMG’s Digital and Mobile Solutions (DMS) are looking to the future to help their clients meet the complex challenges ahead. In the second of a series of five articles on the future of business in the digital world, Mark Shank, Principal and Jeff Casemier, Director, explain their thinking on Progressive Realism. To read the first article in the series that explains KPMG's Design Thinking approach, please visit If Design Thinking is so powerful, why do businesses still fail at transformation?

Imagination is vital in any successful business, progress depends on it. But progress also depends on the ability to see things through, even when there’s a mismatch with reality or circumstances change before a new innovation can be delivered. This is where Progressive Realism is needed: the ability to move purposefully and rapidly, learning and adapting as you go.

While many organizations are familiar with the concept of agile thinking and the importance of innovation, few understand Progressive Realism and the benefits it brings to the transformation process. Progressive Realism is a crucial mindset to cultivate when approaching any project, especially at the point where concept becomes prototype. If Design Thinking is about looking broadly at potential problems and solutions, Progressive Realism is about evolving solutions with a more pragmatic approach to progress.

It’s a way for organizations to move through different iterations, step-by-step, with careful analysis of results at every stage. Taking a user-focused approach, Progressive Realism draws on tools such as user research and testing, Dev Ops and automation, and rapid prototyping in a way that bypasses classic IT dependencies.

This realism is not about limiting vision. In fact, it means that business leaders can be far bolder in the ideas they propose. They are committing to an outcome and not an output. The story may change and everyone understands that. For once, failure is an option because, at this stage, the investment is small and expectations are still fluid.

This thinking suggests that ideas are put into action at an early stage through a process of practical experimentation. It speeds movement towards full production and ensures that a solution is marketable, realistic and can be achieved on an allocated budget.

Progressive Realism acknowledges that businesses sometimes fail to execute ground-breaking initiatives, not because they lack ideas, but because of the difficulty of achieving internal buy-in. The availability of prototypes at an earlier stage makes buy-in from stakeholders and partners easier to achieve. And with a visualization of the roadmap in hand, transformation is now within reach.

To learn more about KPMG’s Digital and Mobile Solutions, please visit our website. To read the next article in this series that discusses embracing an Agile methodology, please visit Changing mindsets: why agile should drive the whole.