People don’t resist change; they resist being changed!
Too often, people do not recognize, nor respond to, change that is upon them and they are changed by others from outside their normal sphere of competition. An example is the computer industry. At one time IBM, Univac, NCR, Burroughs and a few others ruled the market. They did not react to the change of the users who desired smaller computers and distributed computer usage. Hence they were replaced by DEC, Data General, Varian, and a few others supplying minicomputers. That group did not react to even smaller and more user-friendly microcomputers as provided by Apple, IBM (they made a comeback), Dell, and Hewlett Packard. Only Apple made the transition, in fact led it, to the next generation of tablet computers and smart phones. Apple is now joined by Samsung and others, as we see more and more serious competition from around the world.
Change is here; it will always be here, but at an ever-increasing pace. Some of the changes are: more focus on short-term thinking fueled by the increased speed brought about by the electronics world, social conscious, environment concerns, limited budgets, weather instability, on-line sales/marketing, and competition from anywhere in the world. Awareness of how these and other changes might change your business is critical, as is how you react to lead the way.
Recognizing the changing trends and willingness to change are two different subjects. Like most in the four generations of the computer industry, you can wait until your business is obsolete as other more adventuresome businesses move in, or you can lead the way. The change required is usually radical, not superficial, and must be made quickly. Leaders take a risk but the risk of followership is well-demonstrated. An example of the value of quick action is Nike teamed up with Apple to develop sensors in their shoes to transmit to Apple’s products to log speed, distance, calories burned, and other data. Other competitors are left behind with less desirable partners with whom to react.
Authors Elie Ofek and Luc Wathieu in Harvard Business Review, July-August of 2010, listed a 4-step process to address trends in business.
- Identify the Trends that Matter. Ask yourself, what trends have potential to reshape your business, and how profound are they, short-term or long-term trends.
- Conduct Experiments. One experiment would be a radical change that satisfies needs that customers might not yet know that they need. The second is a more conservative approach to reacting to perceived customer needs.
- Compare the Results. Examine what you have learned from the experiments. The first experiment might have uncovered a new market in which you can become the leader, or it might not. You might learn valuable information, which will enable you to more intelligently conduct the next experiment.
- Isolate Potential Strategies. With this new perspective, you can take action on a broader basis.
Change is not an option and you can change or be changed, the choice is yours.