We’re now several weeks into an almost nation-wide shutdown of life as we knew it. Most people are still making sense of how to get through the present. Some companies and individuals, on the other hand, have already transitioned to thinking about the future.
I shared the four potential responses for using change as a strategic advantage in a video posted in January 2020. The options are to adapt, anticipate, pursue, and ignore.
We’re getting a lot of practice at adapting, and that will likely continue. So let’s turn the focus to the other options.
History teaches us that there will be companies that don’t survive the disruption. Others will simply survive, and a few will be positioned for exponential growth as we enter the “New Next.” The difference in the outcome has a lot to do with the decisions made today. …
Have you been thinking about a return to the “new normal?” Forget about it. That isn’t happening any time soon … and perhaps not ever.
The continued relevance of the term was already suspect considering the pace of change and disruption in technology, business models, competitors, and customer expectations. It completely lost its relevance when the COVID-19 virus proved that the world economy could be decimated in less than 8 weeks.
There is nothing normal about a health, societal, and economic disruption where the solution is everybody stay home for about 8 weeks.
This disruption happened at such a high rate that I imagine the virus boasting to friends, “You think it takes months or years to bring the world to its knees? Here. …
Creating a collaborative, customer-focused team is simple — at least it’s supposed to be. Theoretically, all you need is establish a vision; goals and performance standards based on your agreements; resource allocation; training; and clear consequences.
Unfortunately, simple isn’t always easy. If theory worked without a glitch, you wouldn’t be feeling the pain of missed project deadlines and key stakeholders complaining that your team lacks the agility they need to meet the challenges of digital transformation and innovation.
All the work you have done up to this point is important and essential. Service Catalogs, SLAs, optimized processes and consistent training create a strong foundation for a customer-focused, results-driven operation. …
Corporate CEOs aren’t paid to solve the worlds’ problems, protect communities, or look out for the long-term well-being of employees or suppliers. Milton Friedman told us that in 1970. Anything you do to protect the interests of other stakeholders is simply a tool. The only true goal is to maximize shareholder value.
And yet, Fortune magazine featured three world-class CEOs on its September 2019 cover with the caption “Profits and Purpose: Can Big Business Have it Both Ways?”
The bulk of its “Change the World” issue was devoted to stories and more than a few ads touting corporate efforts to make the world a better place. …
Change is everywhere. At least that’s how it feels.
In reality, much of your team’s work hasn’t changed that much at all. Remaining relevant to your customers, meeting financial targets, and creating an environment for your team to do great work are still priorities.
So where is the disconnect? Why do people struggle with change? There are multiple reasons:
· Change is faster and more complex. Technology has made the world smaller, faster, and more connected. It took 38 years for radio to reach an audience of 50 million people. Television achieved that threshold in 13 years. The internet took only 4 years. …
When was the last time you answered these three questions from the perspective of your client or customer: Why you? Why now? What makes you relevant?
Better yet, when was the last time that you asked them for their candid feedback?
It’s important to ask on a regular basis because your customers are doing so every day.
Admittedly, people and companies that sell technology products and services go through this exercise more often. They are always trying to define and refine their Unique Selling Proposition (USP).
Understanding your relevance is limited to external customers, however. Your internal customers are asking. A client in a large government agency once called to tell me that 30 percent of his department was being laid off and the internal support service they provided was being outsourced. As he lamented the loss he said, “The change is ultimately a good decision. The sad part is that we could have done all of them ourselves. …
A past client recently asked this question: Our change management process works well when we use it to make adjustments to projects, but it falls apart when we pursue transformational change. How can we be so good at some changes and so bad at others?
The simple answer can be found in the words of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper: “You manage things, you lead people.”
Projects — especially those in application development and infrastructure deployment — are things to manage. You can tweak a requirement here or there without forcing people too far out of their comfort zone. Transformation, by its very nature, disrupts the status quo. It is about being different not simply doing different. …
Sometimes the words you say in a moment of frustration come back to haunt you and then teach you. That was the case for me as I worked with a group of engineering leaders at a client organization.
After a particularly difficult discussion about their need to be more intentional in their efforts to create a culture that attracts and retains top talent, I lamented that “I’m not sure why this concept is so difficult. Creating a positive culture isn’t rocket science.”
I called a break at that point, and an attendee approached me at the front of the room.
“My last job before I came here was at the Jet Propulsion Lab,” he started with a sly smirk on his face. …
Past success only means that you used to be relevant. You have to move quicker if you want to stay up with your customers’ demands and your competitors’ innovation.
So why do organizations struggle to master the need for speed? What keeps us slow when we desperately want to move faster?
The Limiters on Speed
Trucking companies install electronic speed limiters to increase fuel economy, safety, and compliance with the law for their fleet.
Organizations have speed limiters, too. They may be unintentional or even unavoidable. …
“We think that society today suffers from a pervasive uncertainty about values, a relativism that undermines leadership and commitment alike.”
This could be an observation about any area of life today. It isn’t. Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy wrote it in their classic book Corporate Cultures back in 1982.
In organizations, that uncertainty leads to dysfunctional cultures that undermine trust and create friction that erodes performance.
Deal and Kennedy also wrote about the importance of values to a company’s culture:
“Values are the bedrock of any corporate culture. As the essence of a company’s philosophy for achieving success, values provide a sense of common direction for all employees and guidelines for their day-to-day behavior.” …