Why are there still dinosaurs?

 

I’m curious; why do businesses embark on change programmes without first having a good look around to determine what is happening in their environment?  I mean, change is hard enough without getting two very fundamental ducks in a row.

 

The first duck is to understand the context in which your business is operating – and this means the WIDER context. Because, like it or not, the rules of the game have changed. While you were concentrating on keeping your business on track, on budget, on shareholder message, the future has quietly, rapidly, inexorably been changing in innumerable areas and is affecting your world, and that of your business – and there is no going back.

 

Don’t panic just yet because, with strategic thinking, an open mind and the right tools, you can learn what is going to hit us in the near future (if it’s not already here) – and how to prepare your business to successfully adapt to these changes.

 

Many (perhaps most) of our businesses are organised based on systems and values from the Industrial Revolution – manufacturing methods, assembly lines,  hierarchical management systems, silo thinking, shareholders first and foremost…  Leadership styles are a perfect example of this: generally they are based on command and control; structure and specialisation; working from a base of power resting with the person who is highest in the hierarchy.

 

In today’s ‘information age’, however, this doesn’t work.  Vast numbers of employees today are knowledge workers and if they don’t like how they are treated, they will walk. Or – and, believe me, this is worse – simply not engage.

 

This brings us to duck number two:  consciously DESIGN CHANGE for the wider context and the future. To be successful, a business needs to be able to work on a project basis, with resources moved easily and quickly between projects and conflicting priorities, as and when needed.  PLUS; they need to keep their antennae tuned to constant change, and be ready to respond.

 

Since the old hierarchical leadership style no longer works, we need to look to what the Information Age needs; a successful leader is one who has learned how to give power away: to empower others.

 

If this all sounds confusing and hard to get your head around; complicated and complex – take heart. You are not alone.

 

Think of Kodak who knew the digital age was approaching and developed digital cameras. But they stopped there; they didn’t pursue the implications and made the assumption people would still want to print their images…and a huge tranche of investment went down the pan.  Or, think of Nokia who used to have the majority share of the mobile handset market; or RIM with their BlackBerry handsets; they did not adapt to the new context and it has landed them near to extinction.

 

To avoid the traps, open your mind: make sure you ask the right questions; get to know what is “out there”; find out exactly what your organisational capabilities are today (I would bet your personnel are recruited by job-title – but have you ever found out what their OTHER skills/talents/gifts are?). Then take a long view of where your business needs to be to successfully meet the future – not to follow the past.

 

Don’t be a dinosaur: as history has proven, there’s no future in it.

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