Change has been the talk of the town recent years. It’s certainly not a new subject for top level management, but why does it feel different now? Why is it more crucial for businesses to stay relevant, develop and change at a faster pace than ever before?
Here is an answer to a similar question stated in Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017: “Because the changes that are affecting organizations today are coming fast and furious. They are overlapping and colliding in ways they haven’t before. They are historic and monumental.”
Are you still contemplating whether your business needs to change? Here are 3 clear signs it does. If you are familiar with any of the 3 topics below, you need to get on with it – now.
1. You think your company’s first priority is to create value for your shareholders
Well, obviously that is important. But are you sure it’s your first priority?
If I told you, you’ll be out of business in a short time if you haven’t made sure you have the best employees there is in your line of business. Would you believe me? Well, it doesn’t really matter, because it is a fact. (This is backed up in extensive and various modern research, check out, for instance, McKinsey’s study on five trademarks on agile organizations). You might think you need new employees? Or could it be that for most companies the best employees are already part of the organization? Igniting your employees’ full potential is dedicated and hard work, and for most companies, it could be wise to invest in tools to develop each and every employees’ competence.
Let’s take a look at some of the world’s greatest and most desired companies right now. How did they get there? Obviously for many reasons, but they have certain things in common, and whether we like it or not, their incredibly fast growth tells us they have made a lot of right decisions. Take FAMGA (Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon), what do they have in common apart from obvious reasons like their products and financial strength? These companies are all younger than me (and I’m not that old!), in fact, three of them are younger than my oldest daughter…. They were established by founders driven by passion. Founders who wanted to change the world, with a clear vision and purpose.
Being able to develop and recruit on those principles, they attract like-minded people. They have had a tremendous growth, and although there are discussions now on what their motives really are, we think it’s safe to say that their business models have grown out of the energy created by the founders and people who work there. Every single employee plays its part and wants to be a contributor in making the world better. As a consequence, they make money. A lot of it.
Most businesses today are created and have recruited based on old principles. Principles that won’t work anymore. To make a transition from old to new is a completely different ballgame, and that ballgame needs to be put on all leaders’ agenda.
Creating value for the shareholders is of course still immensely important, but your employees are a matter of life and death for your business.
2. Your company has a very strong structure, and it has worked great for you for years
The traditional way of running a business just doesn’t do it anymore. Gone are the times where you had your own product that no one could copy, or produce better and smarter. Today, if your product is physical, some young hipster can take a look at it and go home, make it on a 3D printer in no time. Cheaper, stronger and faster, and with a sharper design.
Most likely the days when your clients came to you are in the past. Today you can get almost anything anywhere. You need to give your customers a reason to why they should come to you. Looking at the purpose-driven Generation Z (born after 1996’ish), they will choose who they shop with and who they work for based on the businesses’ values, and if they align with their own set of values. (This is backed in a wide range of research, for example here).
Your clients expect you to listen. You need to listen and be curious, so you know what they want and need before they do. They expect to get the best service there is, if they don’t, they’ll leave you for someone else. You’ll need to go out of your way to serve them, solve their problems, pamper them, thank them and improve their lives, however, best you can.
To be able to do that, you will need a passionate and curious workforce, with necessary authorization to do almost whatever it takes to keep your customers happy and satisfied.
Enabling this kind of dynamic workforce, the organization needs to be agile, and operate as a living organism. We can all agree the world has taken on a new pace, and we find it hard to keep up with everything the way we used to. There just is not enough time for the traditional structure to work anymore. You need to distribute power to everyone in your organization while cultivating let-go-leadership and innovation, (we work as a fully distributed team at Innovation Lab, you can read more about that here).
And it all comes down to customer centricity, a culture that must run through the organism’s veins. All the way from the board actually. There is an urgent need for most businesses to review the company’s organizational structure and all processes. Is the organization agile enough to kill a darling that’s just not selling anymore? Or reinvent it before someone else does? Do you have the guts it takes to rapidly try out new things, with the risk of failing? Are your internal processes based on rapid decisions, failing and continual improvement? Do you make good use of all the big data you already have access to? And is all this done fast and swiftly? Or are you stuck in a structure, with too long and complex processes? Give it some thought, and be honest about the answer.
3. Your leaders are strong and always fully updated on whichever tasks their employees are working on
Just not possible anymore, and definitely not what you want. Bear in mind, you want employees going out of their way to please your customers, and constantly ease their lives and solve their problems. They should be working their guts off to please, serve and solve. For them to be able to do that, you need leaders who go out of their way to please their team members. (Pay it forward, right?).
Future leaders need to have capabilities to spot and develop talent. Their passion should lie in creating talent in all team members, including the ones who are not necessarily considered talented. You might need new and different skills in your business, now that you’re being disrupted and challenged by new demands and competitors. It’s vital that your employees are led by leaders who really and truly take part and care about all their team members. Leaders who can guide the way when they need to take on new skills. Nurture their need and want for continual development and improvement. These leaders must be authentic and trusted by their team members so they can create psychological safety at the workplace.
Today’s businesses need to leave the traditional organizational structure and model behind, and move forward by developing an agile organization – or living organism – which is both stable and dynamic. Innovation Lab was founded in 2001, on the terms and principles crafted for innovative and agile organizations. Our core business and passion is to help businesses stay relevant. Some of us have always worked as consultants, helping various customers stay relevant. Some come from medium sized and large organizations, where the transition from traditional to agile and innovative has started, and for some, catapulted. We are based in various countries, working together remotely, or physically close – always as a dynamic team and organism. We truly love it!
We know a lot about what it takes to make the transition, it’s what we’ve been working on for more than seventeen years.
We have helped a lot of companies, public dinosaurs as well as private mastodons, transitioning into a more distributed organisational model, just as we have taken the turn ourselves. If you are interested in learning more about the transitions or curious to see if it would be fit into your company, drop us a line or give us a call, our passion is helping you stay relevant.