Change Management: Why big change is the new normal in business

The pace of change is accelerating. The phrase “change is a constant” has never been more true. Increasingly the type of change is becoming more transformational, rather than incremental. New disruptors enter markets much more quickly, facilitated by globalisation & new technology.

  • Think Apple in the music and phone business (challenging both record companies and phone makers).
  • Think Amazon
  • Think Airbnb
  • Think Uber

Increasingly, whole sectors and the companies within them are forced to redefine themselves. Fundamentally they are forced to re-establish their relevance (if they can) and build new value chains, just to stay in business.

Take Music, Retail and Photography and remember what those sectors looked like just 20 years ago compared with today. There was no internet to speak of…Amazon didn’t exist, Kodak was unstoppable, music was mostly sold on CDs and Smartphones were unheard of. Within just 10 years all that changed. Some companies adapted and others didn’t.

Technology will continue to advance relentlessly, creating even more opportunities, AI, 3D printing, Internet of things to name but a few. Service sector companies (e.g. financial services, legal) are already experimenting with AI.
Still feeling comfortable? Think your sector is immune?

The standard corporate structures are still based on the rules established early in 20th Century, with real decision making reserved for those at the very top. The very fabric of most well established companies works against their ability to transform quickly.

The legacy of previous success hangs like a millstone around the necks of many big corporates, for example:

  • Large comfortable offices and big expense accounts creating an illusion of being too big to fail
  • Toxic leaders and staff, vested in personal gains over business success
  • Big egos that assume only the people at the top have any brains
  • Big salaries and bonuses that reinforce the big egos and attracting power hungry personality types
  • A vested interest in keeping things just as they are…why stick my neck out and do the right thing if it could cost me my job?
  • Fear that change could mean losing everything: salary, kids education, status, healthcare, house, partner, kids oh and that corner office.

All of this means resistance to change … and lots of it and it’s often insidious and passive, so hard to pinpoint. And yet the world around them will continue to change; that much is certain. The only question is when and how.

Our job is to help clients who are facing industry disruption to create the right environment for change and ease the formidable forces of resistance that will derail even the most well-intentioned and well managed initiatives.

A common misconception is that people are naturally resistant to change. We challenge that, pointing to the changes, large and small, we all make willingly every single day. The key is to reduce the fear and replace it with the enthusiasm and excitement for the future that opportunity brings. That’s when we achieve the seemingly impossible.

Every company is different. Every situation is different. Every person is unique. And that’s just how it should be.