I was speaking with someone recently who works for a ski resort that wanted to find a Blue Ocean Strategy®. Skiing and snowboarding are not growing, and mountain resorts—whether they are destinations or weekend retreats—need to find more nonusers to enjoy an experience.
Unfortunately, the ski resort's change strategy had not taken them very far so they abandoned it. A new business model was not in the works for them, either. While disappointing, this was not unfamiliar.
In contrast, one of our clients has robustly embraced the challenge of change and aligned their business around the undeniable fact that the next generation will not be doing things as they have been done before. While this company is in the telephone call center industry, it realized that "demography was their destiny."
It recognized that younger people don't use the phone to find solutions to their problems. They use the Internet, social media, blogs and all sorts of other means to figure out a solution. Those old 800#'s? For their parents. This company could see what was happening but also saw that their own clients weren't paying attention. So, they determined they could lead the industry by opening up a new market space embracing all types of customer care into their business model.
What do you need in order to adapt your business to changing times?
Companies, like the ski resort, are often on the brink. They need or want to change, and feel that they too can be a success story. This can certainly happen (we see it all the time) but it requires a combination of: 1) a crisis, 2) a willingness to make the unfamiliar familiar, and 3) a tool kit that can provide process and comfort as companies venture into the unknown. Remember, the more comfortable solution is to flee the pain of changing a business. Or to fight the need altogether.
The fact that the ski area had not succeeded was disheartening. In essence, they abandoned their Blue Ocean Strategy and returned to their old Red Ocean full of abundant competition and diminishing demand. The result? Not good. What might they have done differently to find and implement a transformation?
People—leaders and followers—are most comfortable with what is familiar and well-known to them. Their brains, as I have written elsewhere, hate to change. And cheaper is not an effective way to adapt to changing times. This only leads to commoditization and all-too-often, decline or disappearance.
It takes hard work to bring great ideas to fruition AND the ability to overcome substantial opposition
Are you really ready to change? Here are five ways to know. I always ask a prospective client these five things if they are going to avoid the Flight or Fight around new strategies, products or markets:
- Tell me the last time you adapted or adopted something that was dramatically new—personally or professionally. This will reveal if you seek the new or flee from it. It also helps me better understand your own personal approach to change.
- Who on your team is going to become the chief of a new strategy? Are they bringing the right skill set to the journey? Do they have the confidence to lead a transformation—knowing that many of their colleagues will wish them well and then run the other way?
- How are you going to mentor the team? Who will champion their efforts, protect them from the naysayers, and give them the space to successfully innovate?
- Decide on those first small wins. These are very important. Nothing is as exciting as seeing new ideas come alive. Decide early on the right first efforts. Focus on making them happen. Put into place the right dashboard to monitor and measure the impact. And, then keep pushing forward.
- What type of culture do you have today? Will it be the right one for tomorrow? Is your culture one of structure where the “rules rule” or rather, a place where ideas can flourish? A place where the comfort of the team or the family firm challenges those who want to step out of the familiar and try the new? Or are you a culture of results without the patience for discovery?
Big questions at a time when the speed of change is all around us and the need for continuously exploring and experimenting is essential for top-line and bottom-line performance.
Ask yourself these same questions, then ask your leadership team as well. Let me know what answers bubble up—and what new ideas.
Is your business ripe for a culture change?
At Simon Associates Management Consultants (SAMC), we help organizations change, grow and thrive amidst today’s changing times. Specifically, we can help you understand what your company’s culture is today and what it needs to be to take you successfully into the future. If this might be of interest to you, we would like to offer you a free consultation. Please contact us!
Another great resource for you is my new book, “On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights,” where I talk extensively about corporate anthropology, innovation and culture change. Order your copy from Amazon today!