Organizational Change is Essential
By Ian Richardson, Managing Partner, Richardson & Richardson Consulting
My stepdaughter and I were on the front porch the other day when she said a line that shot through my head like a thunderbolt. “Just because something is familiar, doesn’t mean it’s good.” That line strikes me as amazingly profound and insightful. I’ve founded 3 companies so far, been involved in the sale of 2 of them, have had extensive education, training, and exposures to leaders, and I had not heard the concept around the necessity of organizational change put quite so succinctly before.
I say necessity intentionally here. Organizational change, especially in today’s marketplace, must be an intentional focus and strategic initiative. You must proactively initiate change to adapt to market conditions, competition, client requirements, and the shifting technological, political, and economic landscape to survive and thrive.
Organizational Change as a guiding principle
StratOp, the planning methodology we utilize at R&R, was developed by Tom Paterson as a method of planning and managing a business. There are 9 guiding principles in StratOp, all of which have served me very well. The 9th principle is “Constant Adaptation.” Tom advocated that an organization must constantly be asking itself “What Must Change” as it worked through its plan. When you are effectively taking action, creating infrastructure to support your organization, and doing effective management, your business will fundamentally transform along the journey. Your team will change and improve, systems and process will be developed, documented, and implemented. Clients will grow and expand, your reach and impact carried along with them. Your organization will grow.
All the while, the world will not stay static while this occurs. Economic situations change, the stock market and other forces will cause expansions or recessions. Countries will go to war. Competitors will pop up, merge, expand, and otherwise change alongside you. New technologies, products, services, and offerings will develop, and appetite for your offerings will be ever shifting.
Jumping the Curve
Brad Schow, VP of Consulting at ConnectWise, has been an influential mentor and guide in my professional career. Brad served as facilitator of my ITNation Evolve peer group, and personally helped me through a few difficult times in both my personal and professional past.
One of the items he was involved with creating is the concept of “Jumping the Curve”, or intentionally creating organizational change to pivot your business model. [See the diagram below for a visual reference – I appreciate your understanding of my lack of graphic design skills].
The basics of the concept are:
- Your organization starts off in a primary business model (selling Widgets for example).
- Overtime, you gain awareness that the market appetite for “Widgets” seems to be cooling / plateauing.
- Your team identifies that “Gizmo Consulting” seems to be the next opportunity for your space.
- You spend intentional time skilling up in the Gizmo Consulting space. This is represented by the “window of innovation” in our diagram.
- When ready, your organization refocuses on Gizmo Consulting as the primary business model. You “jump the curve” to the Gizmo Consulting model.
- This doesn’t mean you throw the proverbial Widget “baby” out with the bath water. You have refocused efforts and are marketing, developing, and focusing on Gizmo Consulting, but can opportunistically sell a Widget when appropriate.
- Your team will approach previous Widget customers and Cross Sell / Upsell them to Gizmo Consulting services.
- Sometimes, due to a variety of reasons, the previous business model must be completely abandoned. Healthy Profit/Loss and Balance Sheets allow for this sort of dramatic shift.
- Overtime, the Widget market collapses (Think CDs, VHS, DVDs, Cassette Tapes, Typewriters, etc.). Your organization has avoided “death” through “Jumping the Curve”.
Final Thoughts on Organizational Change
Market “death” doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen. Just as all living things are born, grow, age, and eventually die, so will products, services, and offers. Decline can be rapid or slow, but every product, service, or offer does have a “lifecycle” that they will follow.
Without intentional focus, your organization can be caught unaware – outside of your “window of innovation” and already on the declining rollercoaster of “loss of relevancy.”
If you’re struggling with organizational change or get your team onboard with the need to do so, Richardson & Richardson can help. Check out our case studies for stories of organizations that we’ve assisted with similar issues and download our white papers for deep dives on tools you can use in your organization. If you’re wondering where to start, book a complimentary session with one of the Richardsons today to come up with a plan on how to move forward.
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