When it comes to business, change and transformation is inevitable - how you prepare for and respond to that can often be the difference between success and failure. Based on research throughout his career, in this article and subsequent 30-minute talk, Jason Clarke, Founder of Minds at Work looks at how business leaders can interpret, get ahead of, create change and respond to disruption and change through innovation and creativity.
- Purpose – the fundamental reason for the business existing
- Reality – the business demands and limitations
- Possibilities – the better ways of thinking and working
From these three conversations, only one of them genuinely changes frequently, the possibilities. Why? Because ultimately, ideas have a use by date – there is a time where you can use them and a time that sees them become no longer viable.
We now live in a time of constant and rapid change where traditional industries and business models are simply collapsing. As we experience a shift from an economy based on owning things, to one based on sharing things, the change that we see is simply the passing of old assumptions around society and civilisation, paired with a wave of new approaches.
Riding the waves of change
So, how can we learn to anticipate and ride those waves of change? True innovators are those who tend to read those waves early. Let us take Netflix as an example – the business began life as a DVD postal service. Customers would go online, order a film and be sent it in the mail, a great threat to Blockbuster. However, having been approached several times by Netflix to discuss collaboration, Blockbuster continued to decline. Of course, Netflix then went on to explore the concept of streaming and quickly realised it was the future.
The question to ask here then is, does your business read the waves in the same way that Netflix did and Blockbuster didn’t? Is your organisation fluid and agile enough to stop doing the things that are difficult and non-sustainable?
The importance of mindset
If your answers to the above were no, let us explore the significance of having the right mindset. The quickest way to re-engineer your business and think like a true innovator is to renovate it. One approach to take is by using the example of home improvements. What are the things you would like to keep, chuck, change or add?
There is no reason why the same cannot be said for a business in order to revive it. Success does not always have to mean starting from scratch – it often means using a fresh set of eyes.
Creativity and talent
Sometimes, a fresh idea is needed, and that is where creativity and talent come into force – you hired the right people, now is the time to utilise them in order to get that all important flow of innovation. Many businesses have a low tolerance for a sense of silliness or the exploration of ideas. Instead they expect a perfect concept that is borne already costed and with an immediate return on investment. Unfortunately, that is simply not how ideas work. Details come much further down the line. Allowing your people adequate space and time to play around with the possibilities is priceless.
Business magnate Warren Buffet said we must “attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.” Sometimes, going the opposite way to everyone else might be exactly the right route to take. The key lies in understanding how to strip an idea down, refine and simplify it. Rather than seeing the idea you have now, look at what that idea could be in the future – in other words, play around with it.
Some speedy thought activities to help you think in new ways and create new possibilities include asking:
- What if we extended the idea?
- What if we mutated it?
- What if we divided the business like a slice of bread?
- What if we changed the order or sequence of the way we do something?
Finally, Jason considers the ultimate question to put you on the ‘right side of history’: If you were entering your industry today, would you build the exact business that you have now?
Click below for Jason’s full 30-minute talk with a series of exercises to help you prepare your business for change.