We Need More Transformative Change

What does it take to change? As in, truly change? It is said that it takes 3 weeks or more to turn an action into a habit. And, the older we get, the more set in our ways we become. So, how then, do we enact change—within ourselves, our businesses, or even society?

In a time when being adaptable is crucial to success, organizations are changing faster than ever and, yet, it still seems we aren’t changing fast enough to keep up. This may be the result of tools that are designed to limit risk and are unable to accept compromise and open systems. For example, changes in Ukraine, mid-term elections, inflation, Trump investigations, and economic growth seem to modify our decision parameters almost daily—are our tools taking all of these factors into account in their analysis? Doubtful.

That means, in order to “keep up” with the times, we have to pay close attention to these parameters ourselves. We must not only embrace change, but be actively working to create transformative change as well.

Much attention is often given to analytics, expertise, profits, and science. However, these tools sometimes ignore critical requirements for change and better decisions: passion, focus, trust, effort, risk, and commitment. Unchecked, analytics may actually hinder transformative change.

Cartoon of one snowman talking to another, as they both melt, saying "Come on, Bob - didn't you hear the CEO?  We all need to embrace change!"

Here are some suggestions to develop and execute more transformative change:         

  • Consider structural changes. Society and business fail to recognize old paradigms and structures are failing. Large corporate structures, like print publications, big banks, and brick and mortar retailers, are all gradual losers, or even worse. Many large companies have tunnel vision, organizational constraints, etc., and ignore emerging technologies and opportunities. They lack the flexibility to respond to the needs of the market and use outdated solutions to new problems.
  • Imitate small businesses. The success of smaller, more innovative companies shows that many organizations should get smaller, or act smaller, in order to effectively deal with today’s environment. Reducing layers and creating professional cultures are a start. Boards and management need to split up organizations or create more independent groups.
  • Invest in innovation. Large organizations say they want excellence, entrepreneurship, innovation, risk takers, etc., but, really, they tend to encourage mediocrity. For example, short term goals, testing, and failure, which are critical parts of innovation, are punished more than rewarded. In short, organizations frequently ignore the advice, “you can’t score if you don’t take a shot.” 
  • Look at disrupters. Mackenzie Scott (Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife who has $60 billion) is changing the structure of charitable giving. She is a disrupter in that she focuses on equality, gives only unrestricted gifts (no building or school names), and donates significant funds to lesser-known institutions, like black colleges and community organizations, to help transform their entire organization.

Technology is not the disruptor.  People are.

  • Implement more risk. There are more and greater opportunities. Even in sports, home runs, the three-point play, and passing in football are rapidly increasing as coaching, athletes, and analytics improve. We underestimate the potential of frequently unlimited upsides compared to limited downsides. Test more and accept that failure is frequently a requirement for success. We also need to seek transformative solutions, which may be unknown when we start a decisions process.
  • Embrace the relative importance of marketing over sales. Digital analysis and marketing, the Internet, and account management are examples of efforts that are replacing the good old days of personal selling and relationships.
  • Focus on reducing stress. The pandemic and rapid change has caused significant stress and unhappiness and we need to take action to reverse some of that damage.
  • Remember technology is king. Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple will survive and grow as they become even more innovative and efficient. Traditional retailers with large real estate platforms and margin requirements are at great risk. Consumers are proving to prefer the perks of working at home, fast delivery, and other convenient Internet processes. Virtual offerings will continue to expand and be utilized and, therefore, they must be integrated into our structures.
  • Don’t forget that service, image, and culture are frequently the biggest (and often least expensive) ways for small companies to develop a brand and differentiate themselves. Some suggestions: Focus on your target market and segment your ideal customer. Be polite, listen, and then act based on what you have learned. Become a trusted resource to your prospects by providing useful information that will help them make a good choice.

The post-pandemic changes we’re seeing should be viewed as a critical opportunity to improve sales, profit, and competitive positioning. Many include transformational change. The current state of organizations and the rapid advancement of technology are stimulating perpetual change that cannot be ignored. But, with the right mentality and a willingness to incorporate tools that will help you successfully adapt, you can thrive in this new normal.

So, where in your life, business, or community do you see a need for transformational change? And what actionable steps are you taking to fuel it? And are you committed to making those actions a habit? Because that is what it takes to truly change.

Related: Passion and Positivity Fuel Success