Every industry has been experiencing massive, fast, and sometimes devastating changes over the last decade or more. Take Lyft and Uber, for example, and how they’ve upended transportation. Or how Airbnb and the sharing economy have disrupted the hospitality industry, or how Spotify forced Apple to rethink its iTunes business proposition. Apps and mobile devices continue to cause major market shakeups as they either change the way people interact with a market or find their way into new markets. And it’s not slowing down, it’s speeding up!
Back in the 1990s, the only way to communicate with out-of-office employees was by sending a personal message via colleague or landline phone. I can also remember when we wanted someone in the office to read something, we passed it along with a “buck slip.” And if you were at the end of that slip, you might not see it for months!
Yet today in the age of the internet, smartphones, streaming and the cloud, we are always connected, and the line dividing our personal and professional lives is increasingly becoming blurred. New technologies are constantly coming at us, causing organizations across industries to experience digital disruption. What does it all mean?
Digitalization is changing the workplace so dramatically that the acquisition of new digital skills has become a prerequisite for success
Back when I ran a company, at one point we thought a situation was one way, and then the facts changed and it became another way. Yet when we reviewed our strategy, the new facts were not considered. New facts…no shift in direction! Nothing changed in our strategic planning and yet there were big changes in the external environment.
Sound familiar? How frustrating is it? As a consultant or manager in your organization, how many times do you point out something that is obvious, that should be fixed, and yet nothing gets done! And then you get that dreaded comment, “I know you’re right. Sometime when I get a chance, I will fix it.” Or how about: “I know but I just don’t have time to fix it.”
To me as the consultant or the outsider looking in, this is very deflating. It’s a real downer, particularly when the log jam is over something we discussed before. I sometimes want to ask, “What didn’t you get, or hear, since this is an important element in what we are doing right now?” No excuse, right?
Performance outcomes are directly a result of a sound (or unsound) strategic plan
I recently read an article (third in a series) in the November 22, 2019 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “Admin 101: Tips on Carrying Out Your Strategic Plan.” The author, David D. Perlmutter, a professor and dean of the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University, readily admits that “one of the great paradoxes of higher-education leadership is that most of us who find ourselves in administrative positions have not studied the kind of work we end up doing on a day-to-day basis. We manage budgets without understanding financial theories. We work with people but never learned interpersonal communication principles. And we carry out new strategic plans without even looking at the research on the relationship between planning and performance outcomes.”
Every last one of us makes mistakes — that's a given. If you aren't making any mistakes, chances are you're not trying anything new, which is a mistake in itself. The famed UCLA basketball coach John "the Wizard of Westwood" Wooden said, "If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything. I'm positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
Although they often feel like huge gaffes or missteps (especially when it’s you who’s made them), mistakes can lead to great ideas and innovation. But in reality, they are the stepping stones that propel us out of our comfort zone into the growing zone, where great lessons can be learned. After all, how can you tell if something works if you don't try it?
Contrary To Popular Belief, Mistakes Are Not Failures
We were interested, but not surprised. These days, just about every company wants to “change their culture.” We know this because we get calls from frantic HR directors about it almost every day. The problem is, they aren’t really sure what their corporate culture is today, much less what they would like it to become in the future. Nor do they know how to get it there.
That's where we come in.
Ready to change your culture? We can get you there.
Starting a company: how do you do it?
Often I get asked, what is it like to start a company? Or, what do you have to do to become an entrepreneur? Or maybe, lessons learned for developing a company? Or something else about being a business builder.
Thinking back, I can’t tell you how many startups I have tried that haven’t worked, or how many times I have been “On the Brink.” It is often easier to talk about your successes, not your failures. But I do have some tangible learning experiences from both successes and failures, and I think it is appropriate to provide you with a list of those so that hopefully, you don’t have to experience the same pain that I went through. Remember, it is a lot easier looking through that rearview mirror rather than facing the barriers in front of you.
A little background
On September 12, 2019, The New York Times published a special section on “Retirement.” One article that really reverberated for me was titled: “My Work Life Is Over. What’s Next?” The author states, “Many retirees do not have a plan” for after retirement. For some with health issues, retirement is necessary, but what about those who are healthy? Are they worn out after doing the same thing year after year and are glad to stop, or does their retirement date just appear on their calendar?
Change is all around us but few of us really know how to change
...especially when it means adopting new ways of doing things. Our brains hate change. It's literally pain! So why do it? Because we must. The times demand it.
Even though change can be painful, we really need to learn how to adapt our growth strategies, our processes, our employee engagement...even ourselves. We can't put it off. In today's highly competitive, continually disrupted business environment, that's the only way companies are going to survive.
Is meaningful and lasting change possible? Yes.
Higher ed is “On the Brink” of big "Blue Oceans"
Higher education is an old, established system facing a fast-changing market space — not a good mix. If you are in higher education in 2019, you are well aware of the challenges you are facing. What do you do if you are not among the top 50 colleges in the country with major endowments and large numbers of potential student applicants? What is your role and for whom? Could a Blue Ocean Strategy help you find your purpose and successfully attract today's generation of students?
Delaware Valley University: case study of a successful Blue Ocean Strategy
These were the challenges facing Delaware Valley University (DelVal) when they hired us to do Blue Ocean work with them. They were asking big strategic questions. Our job was to help them find the right answers. You might be facing the same problems as well: too few students, shifting demands of faculty and staff, challenges from the workplace, and questions about the real value of a college education.
What really impressed us about DelVal's leadership was how they wanted to share their Blue Ocean Strategy work to help other higher ed organizations of all shapes and sizes step back and rethink where they are going and how they are going to get there — big strategy questions. So after helping Maria Gallo (DelVal's president) and her team successfully construct a new strategic plan for the University, we turned our work with them into a comprehensive case study which we offer here as a white paper.
Find ways to meet unmet needs in ways the competition isn't
This white paper is designed to help you shift from competing in a "red ocean" with other colleges and universities to finding innovative ways to tackle students’ unmet needs, and seeking nonusers who could actually become enrolled “users,” albeit in different ways than in the past. That, in a nutshell, is what Blue Ocean Strategy is all about.
To download our white paper, "Delaware Valley University Embraces Blue Ocean Strategy®," click below.