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Keeping up with the speed of change in today’s business environment

By David Kaplan - San Diego Consulting Group

The pace of change seems to be accelerating at a rate impossible to fathom. Drones deliver packages, robots vacuum, cars drive themselves, augmented reality assists shoppers, refrigerators order groceries, and digital currency replaces money. With the proliferation of increasingly sophisticated technology like smart phones, cloud computing, and 3D manufacturing, anyone with a great idea can launch a product, engage a new breed of discerning consumers, and potentially disrupt long-standing industries. By now, you’re probably familiar with examples of industries that are being disrupted: car-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft are disrupting taxi companies, online home-sharing apps like Airbnb and Homeaway are doing the same to the hospitality sector, drone technology is threatening several sectors, and online media platforms like Amazon and Facebook are disrupting multiple industries. None of these innovations were available just a few short years ago.

Disruption is on all of our minds, so what do business leaders have to do to stay competitive? How does one adjust in these and other rapidly changing markets? How does one bring forward the investments already made – quickly? What is the secret to innovation at speed?

According to “Redefining Boundaries, Insights from the Global C-suite Study, IBM Institute for Business Value, 2015” survey, 80% of CxOs are experimenting with different business models or thinking of doing so. Organizations can no longer solely rely on their products and services as a main competitive differentiator and are scrambling to keep up with the rapid pace of change. The very nature of the corporation has changed as it becomes commonplace for companies drive innovation through decentralized teams supporting technology-leveraged projects that can scale rapidly to global production. This information revolution is being fueled by rapidly progressing technology such as platform as a service, mobile telephony, and artificial intelligence. Platform as a service (PaaS) for example, allows companies to develop, release, and scale products and services much faster at fraction of the historical cost. PaaS is a way to address market needs quickly and seamlessly by delivering services that reduce customer friction. Companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM all offer PaaS environments.

One of my customers, the largest transportation systems company in America, faced competition from a new breed of small competitors offering mobile applications. The mobile applications provided customers with a convenient way to order transportation services without using the large kiosks provided by my customer. PaaS allowed my customer to rapidly develop and offer private label mobile app stores without making large investments in infrastructure or technology, and hedged the threat from new competitors.

To avoid losing market share to this new breed of competitor one must be prepared to adapt. Failing to address customer needs at the pace they demand increases one’s vulnerability to competitors leveraging these technologies who will. According to Forrester’s report “Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer,” transformation can be a “complex and risky undertaking” that “requires senior sponsorship, clear direction, appropriate resourcing, cross- functional engagement throughout [the] organization, robust governance, and much more.” Organizational change initiatives require complete vetting and alignment to corporate culture to avoid missteps that could lead to failure.

While new technologies are providing disruptors a potential advantage, there are some time- tested best practices for change-management that can even the playing field for you as you endeavor to launch change initiatives. Here are five tactics to reduce the risk of failure and give the initiative a better chance to succeed.

1. Establish a vision that aligns with the corporate culture and strategy

If you’re going to lead change, there has to be a clear vision for where the company is now, where it is going, and how it’s going to get there. Make sure your vision takes into account the company culture so your team doesn’t feel completely disenfranchised. Try hard had to align your vision to the current strategy so there is a feeling of continuity, not chaos.

2. Communicate the vision at every opportunity

A good leader creates a clear vision and communicates it frequently. This ensures buy-in from leadership and other sponsors. Often, leaders make the mistake of revealing a new vision once in an all-hands meeting and fail to mention it again. An effective communication plan would engage management to continuously reiterate the vision so it proliferates throughout the organization. It should always be crystal clear where the organization is going and why.

3. Establish an empowered governance committee

If your change initiative doesn’t have enough executive support, it is doomed to fail. It is important to create a steering committee comprised of influential players who develop a well thought out plan and remain accountable for execution. Elements such as budget, ownership, timing, resources requirement and the like are critical. The steering committee should meet regularly to ensure the plan stays on track.

4. Set small achievable goals

It will be tempting to set big, audacious goals in order to drive real innovation and change. However, setting the bar too high at the start, increases the possibility of failure. It is more effective to set smaller, achievable goals in order to build momentum towards your vision and get change to stick.

5. Avoid declaring success too soon

If your change initiative achieves milestone successes, it will be tempting to declare that the plan has succeeded. Many change initiatives experience setbacks, so if you declare success too early, you risk a full-scale mutiny when a setback occurs. It’s better to avoid declaring success too soon and work methodically towards systemic change.

Rapidly progressing technology is driving both innovation and disruption. Your business needs to carefully evaluate the role this new technology could play in order for your company to stay relevant and also manage the complexity and risk associated with transformation by adopting proven change management techniques. If you follow these simple guidelines, your organization will have established a solid foundation for success.

Sometimes we need a different perspective to chart the right course to success. Contact the San Diego Consulting Group to see how we can help. Our expertise in IoT, sales, marketing and business strategy combined with our deep industry connections empowers our clients to unlock growth opportunities that create real impact.



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