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Factor #1 – The Speed of Change

by Kevin D. Crone

October 26, 2015

There are 14 factors preventing a professional service firm from reaching its potential. These factors came from four different research projects we conducted. We dug deep to determine what is pertinent to organizations in Ontario. Each week, I will present one factor and what can be done to become exceptional.

FACTOR 1: The Speed of Change
The world’s knowledge is doubling every year because of the incredible speed of sharing information and we’ll experience 20,000 years of progress in the 21st century. You see change and its challenges everywhere. The life cycle of services/products; the new way clients buy; increased competition from foreign and domestic players; sophisticated, educated and demanding clients; increasingly stringent and constantly evolving market demands; keeping up with creating ways to keep staff motivation and morale high; challenges in developing strategies to attract and keep the best and brightest professionals; being flexible in the service delivery model; increasingly complex project environment; the challenge of cost management while growing revenue; the demand for strong operational management coupled with today’s emphasis on greater customer value and transparency, and the switch to becoming value advisors; and the need for value billing. These changes are in place right now.Young desperate businessman in his office looking down

In the near future, the drivers for you and your customers will be: The Internet of things (IOT) technology (devices communicating with each other automatically), social media (creating an image and managing expectations), additive manufacturing (3D printing), nanotechnology, next shoring (bringing off-shore companies home with technical supply chain management), SMACK Stack (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) capital investment, greater visibility, greater flexibility, the need to be differentiated and to tell a relevant story (marketing).

The future market drivers include: A one thousand dollar brain: A trillion – sensor economy, perfect knowledge: 8 billion hyper-connected people: augmented and virtual reality: early days of J.A.R.V.I.S. (remember it in Ironman?), blockchain.

All of these changes… many you may not have even heard of, and challenges will influence corporate performance and growth. Not keeping up to the incredible speed of technological change, market trends and demands and the subsequent new economic and social systems will lead to the risk of alienating and losing customers. On the other hand they can lead to opportunities for those who learn to adapt.

Every successful business professional learns something about dealing with change. What our research tells us is that many companies are hitting a wall. They have strategic plans, but they become, just like New Years resolutions, full of the same old goals. The structure, commitments, habits and systems don’t change and the strategies die. Eventually we have to be serious about doing what is good for the organization for the long haul. We can’t ignore, change or pretend to be committed to a long-term plan. Being exceptional and excellent can’t be an option.

Gerald Hawkins, the change author, created the term Mindsteps. He said we first don’t know what’s going on so we can’t identify with or anticipate the change. Then, when change occurs, we resist it. Eventually we see the reality or truth and adapt or not. Well, the Mindsteps are taking too long for today’s firms.

The Leadership Method
What the leader is committed to must be clear. If it’s to just make money anyway you can for today, then your team sees it and change is literally impossible.

The leader must:

  • Enrol as many passionate associates in examining what’s going on for their clients, the marketplace, the technical and social trends. It isn’t about driving more of the same but about seeing things differently. Develop a thirst for learning, not giving opinions about what’s going on. Become more genuinely interested in clients and associates.
  • Help a team determine the impact of the changes and the opportunities available, and create a sense of urgency to act.
  • Help the team create new visions for various actions required and a comparative, specific current reality. The contrast determines the obvious initiatives and steps.
  • Encourage experimental actions with everyone learning: “What’s next”.
  • Develop organic buy-in and alignment with one win at a time.
  • Develop new ways to build the competency skills and attitudes of team members, especially in the ability to deal with people. Most professionals have great analytical and logical skills but aren’t wired to stay interested in others, building teams and leading.
  • Get the internal barriers out of the way for new actions and subsequently redesign the organization to support the business /client strategy.
  • Never let up, keep teaching client skills, allow innovations to process, celebrate victories, and build and coach associates.

Possible Actions to Take Now:

Determine what needs to be examined. For example, driving social media, the digital shopping experience, understanding changing client needs, how to become an organization more interested in customers, how to become passionate about change and develop leaders who can be change agents, marketing and selling in a different time.

Create teams engaged in the examination, who create projects that educate, cause strategies and manage actions.

The Reality: Consider this research before you say, “Interesting, but that’s not us.”

  • 66% of companies are troubled with their technology effectiveness.
  • Most strategic plans are useless. They are neither strategic nor good plans.
  • 81% of plans lack execution.
  • The customer is usually left out of the conversation.
  • Most executives do not demonstrate serious strategic actions. Right now money actions win over creating initiatives that keep up with the speed of change.
  • Operations is usually about efficiency and managing costs, not the right things for the organization for the long haul.
  • Few teams are organized to delve into understanding and responding to change.

Our research says this is the best time to be in business in Ontario. Profits are good. Opportunities are going to explode to those who manage the speed of change. Why not your firm?

Stay tuned next week for the number two factor.

Have a great week!

Kevin D. Crone
Dale Carnegie Business Group
(905) 826-7300 / 1-800-361-2032
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