Seth Godin writes “Do you have to be anti-change to be pro-business?”
He lists several companies that fought change (and government regulations) to preserve the status quo.
But my favorite part is at the end:
“The opportunities kick in when an external force requires a brand new story...
It's easy to argue against change. It disheartens shareholders and even employees. But external change is the most likely lever of growth, because it puts you back on the agenda of attention.” [Emphasis added]
Unfortunately, I think Seth’s right, external change is the likely lever of growth. Most companies want to ride out the current model until they’re forced to change.
Without a significant external force, they have no motivation to create change and often fight it when it becomes inevitable or is already present.
But why don’t we innovate and initiate changes ourselves?
Radical innovation or participation in emerging markets is unsure and requires experimentation. If a corporate culture is built on a well known market, long term experimentation is not the norm.
Failure is incorrectly defined as not attaining the expected results. It should be defined as not learning anything from an experiment or continually repeating the same mistakes.
Established companies have established processes and risk tolerances that are often not conducive to innovation.
Often companies attempt to use their current staff to come up with radical new products while requiring them to support existing products.
- Linkage to the current products and processes can constrain their ability to create something new.
- Radical innovation as a “side-job” is often unrealistic.
- Current staff has a vested interest in preserving the status quo.
- Staff may be “tainted” by their in depth knowledge of the current structure. At minimum, create a team that includes both people knowledgeable about the current business and those with radically different experiences – and put them on an even playing field.
Learning is uncomfortable. New product development is uncertain.
Anytime we need to change, we get scared and most of us run away until we have no choice!