Your industry may be the same as it was 50 years ago. Change comes slowly, if at all, so your future appears to be secure. But you are still worried.
As you look around the world, you see entire sectors in turmoil. The new technology has led to companies being “Netflixed”, completely destroyed with sudden speed by external innovations.
How can you be sure this won’t happen to your organization?
The fact is, you cannot prevent such external forces. Somewhere bright people are invisibly experimenting with new ideas, experimenting. They intend to revolutionize and replace any product or service you offer. More recently, COVID has shown how small the earth is and how vulnerable we are in the Caribbean. Your business is not safe and the barriers that have kept competition away are falling faster every day.
In the face of increased risk, how do you respond? Some are fatalistic, believing that a hurricane, epidemic or technology cannot be prevented from upsetting the best of plans. However, if your organization intends to do more than put its head in the sand, here are a few steps to follow.
Plan the scenarios
If you can guess the little beginnings of disruptive technology, congratulations! You are halfway there. If you can’t, start looking by searching the specialized press.
Also, tune in to what younger staff see and say. They may be closer to determining the perspective than you. How come? They will be the ones who will take care of it. In fact, if they feel an outage, expect them to challenge your leadership team. They might ask: Do these executives even have a clue? When the worst is over, they will go away.
Use these hints to capture future scenarios for your organization. Go out for at least 20 years and see what happens when different possibilities arise. For those that are more likely, create a single favorite result. So, go back to this year to determine what your short-term actions should be.
But sometimes this doesn’t work.
I’ve seen teams realize: “The company has no future.” Like the old photo film industry, they realize the tides are forever changing and they need an escape plan. Working harder would only add to their addiction, as it did for Kodak. Today, its rival Fuji is thriving in entirely new business lines while Kodak is defunct.
Another lesson that emerged from the battle between Fuji and Kodak is the fact that the latter invested in bad bets.
Some believe Kodak didn’t predict the advent of digital photography, but a closer look at the record shows otherwise. They were one of the first to predict that technology would replace their more profitable film business.
However, their response to the threat was wrong. They have invested in digital kiosks around the world, mainly in shopping malls. Their belief? Customers wanted to make prints in a convenient location.
They were right, but they missed the growth of desktop computing. Customers have switched to photo management at home, powered by computers and printers built by HP, Compaq and Apple.
Unfortunately, Kodak’s timing was wrong. Their strategy failed.
The best solution to this problem? Involve a wide range of team members to create your plans. This task is too difficult to be left to one individual, even if he is the founder of the company and a certified genius.
Even if you capture the perfect plan for the next outage, it’s easy to get swallowed up by today’s emergency. No surprise: your organization isn’t designed to adopt unfamiliar ways of doing things.
For example, the day after the retreat, the simplest thing a person can do is go back to what they were doing before. After all, their calendar looks the same, their emails haven’t gone away, and the same meetings are scheduled.
As a result, the internal processes do not change. Projects are not launched. Strategic initiatives never leave retreat.
It takes incredible energy to bring about such a transformation and the Caribbean won’t change if they don’t know why they have to. In other words, just being told to do something different won’t work.
Instead, business leaders should win hearts and minds. They need to inspire staff to see why change is imperative and urgent. But this isn’t a one-time task – it requires constant reinforcement and performance management.
In summary, the real bad is not innovative technology but your company’s ineffective response. Delay these three actions and you will likely be left behind, never able to catch up.
The benefit is that these steps are under your control and will prepare you for the introduction of a new technology that threatens to “Netflix” your business into oblivion.
– Francis Wade is a management consultant and author of Perfect time-based productivity. To receive a summary of links to previous columns or provide feedback, please email: [email protected]