Diversify Your Way Through Disruption

Insights | 05 December 2018

In the American TV show Veep, the lead character, Selena Meyer, adopts the phrase “Continuity and Change” as the slogan for her presidential campaign. While that was meant to be satirical, the reality of today’s business world is that the only thing you can expect to be continuous is the need to change. Successfully navigating business transformation is critical as companies find the markets they work in are constantly moving with new competitors, products and service delivery methods.

That change is happening faster than the capacity of many businesses to learn – at least the way they learn today. If they don’t change, they probably won’t be here for much longer. During a recent event with the PM-Partners group network, one speaker noted that even though his business was over 100 years old and had strong brand recognition, it was unlikely to survive unless it adapted to a changed business world. What worked before would no longer work. It wasn’t just a case of new competitors emerging, but of a shifting set of customer expectations and needs.

One of the challenges is to ensure that not all the company’s income stream is via one specific channel. That happens by diversifying intelligently and ensuring that governance processes are up to scratch so innovation can be embraced in a sensible way. By spreading income streams sensibly, it’s possible to reduce the risk if one or two changes to a stream significantly reduces revenue. This starts with making some hard decisions up front that will free up resources to find future growth opportunities.

When the company faced the GFC, it was able to transform to survive and thrive – but the process took two years. The next challenge was to reduce these processes to three to six months, so the organisation could be more nimble in an ever-accelerating business world.

Hiring the right leadership is critical. That starts with finding a chief executive that understands how to see beyond potential distractions and lead the business through challenging times. There’s a need to also ensure boards and management teams are selected based on diverse skills and perspectives. This provides the tools needed to see new challenges as they arrive and find ways to meet them without always falling back to the same ways of working.

By looking at what is happening with emerging technology, you can identify where your strengths and weaknesses are and what opportunities and threats you are likely to face. For example, there’s a convergence between battery technologies, driverless cars and communications that will impact everything – from the design of power grids and roads, to how we design urban and recreational spaces and homes. With such a diverse potential impact, companies need to constantly scan the environment, have plans in place and be ready with the skills to execute them.

The challenge for this business’ leadership was to think 10 times bigger and 10 times quicker within a framework of safety and quality. Where there was a block preventing the execution of an important initiative, senior leadership focused on fast-tracking a solution.

In the case of this company, the first year of transformation was about structure and people. Then, in the second year of the transformation programme, the focus shifted to establishing new business activities that delivered fresh and diverse income streams. In this instance, with a base of over two million customers, this business looked for ways to personalise services and products.

So, what are the blockers to transformation? Just as the right people and structure are the enablers of change, the wrong ones can stifle success.

It starts with the executive team and giving every member ownership of an outcome. For that organisation, this ownership fostered a level of teamwork at the executive level that the board had never seen before. Then, getting the message through to the rest of the organisation was a matter of regular, consistent communication from the CEO and executive team. It all began with that exec team and the next level down. The speaker noted that if they couldn’t get it right there, it wouldn’t flow through the delivery arm and would therefore fail.

If your company requires assistance with transformation, contact us today on 1300 70 13 14.

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