Business As Usual Must Change

by Jay Deragon on 01/23/2012

Market dynamics, customer preferences and employee satisfaction issues are changing rapidly.  Everyone is  learning or trying to learn how to manage these constant rates of change. What was considered usual is now unusual and  things aren’t likely to go back to usual anytime soon.

As soon as management thinks things are settling down here comes more change. Subsequently people and organizations find themselves stuck in  irrelevant processes which produce the wrong things for the wrong reasons and management wonders why things aren’t going the way they were planned.  The future is no longer an extension of the past rather it is the past totally re-engineered.

What seems to be driving this chaos? Two things; 1) technology and 2) communications.

Technology is reinventing and replacing old operating processes. Communications is spreading the word of change faster than ever before, thanks to technology.  People are embracing the change and in many cases leading the change regardless of old power structures and archaic rules.

Just consider some of the recent disruption occurring because people are using social technology to further the message and the process of change:

  1. Social Media: Digitally Fueling Activism
  2. Change.org fuels grass-roots campaigns with social media
  3. Social Media Fueling Occupy Wall Street Protests
  4. Social Change In The Connected Age
  5. The Psychology of Social Media that Fuels Social Change

Change is everywhere and everyone is either feeling it, fueling it or resisting it. Which is the better choice?

Change Is The New Normal

A Harvard Business Review article titled Leading Change in the “New Normal” states: There were specific behaviors common to the businesses that coped well with change:

  1. Leave incrementalism behind. Perhaps the biggest benefit of deep and rapid change is that everything needs to be reexamined. When survival is at stake, all the “crazy” ideas that were dismissed earlier resurface for serious discussion. The idea of “go big or go home” is a requirement in today’s economy. Meeting the challenges of scale, distribution and affordability forced fresh thinking. The results also challenge previous notions about what was possible.
  2. Invest in People. One common trait amongst organizations that have emerged as winners during rapid change was a concerted investment in people — from employees to channel partners. It is about people, processes and performance with people coming first.
  3. Increase Stakeholder Engagement. Many of the companies that are now India’s most admired put significant effort into engaging their stakeholders (employees, customers, partners) for a wide variety of things: explaining the policies and beliefs of the company, communicating strategy and milestones, and often involving them in seeking solutions and new ideas.

There are two predictable organization reactions to change — opposition and adaptation. Opposition is no longer a reasonable consideration and adaptation by itself isn’t enough. What now matters is the speed of change that matches or exceeds people expectations for change. People being suppliers, buyers and employees.

Everything is changing so rapidly you have to become the change or get left behind the change.  The average rate of change is no longer average rather exponential. To be part of the change individuals and organizations have to learn how to think and act exponentially about their work and their business.

According to Seth Godin,If you’re the average person out there doing average work, there’s going to be someone else out there doing the exact same thing as you, but cheaper. Now that the industrial economy is over, you should forget about doing things just because it’s assigned to you, or “never mind the race to the top, you’ll be racing to the bottom.”

Social technology is fueling the thirst for engagement, for change and subsequently business as usual must change to the unusual or die being usual.

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