As organizations from all business sectors continue on their paths toward success, the advances in technology which basically seem limitless will continue changing the landscape. The transformations taking place in all industries has the same thing in common. This commonality is buyers are connected, and the world is a lot smaller, and it gets smaller every day. People are linked together in a web of collaboration.
Organizations not only have more competition; their competition comes fast and from places no one could have imagined – unless of course they have imagination.
Technology allows for disruption like never before. The once mighty fortress of the brick and mortar platform is quickly cracking from the weight of invisible competition. The goods provider works from a warehouse no customer ever sees; the restaurant who’s waiters and waitresses have been replaced with handheld computerized menus; the car manufacturer who wants to sell trips to space; the search engine who manufactures contact lenses; and the social network who makes no money from its billions of users - its revenue comes from those who want access to their users; and don’t forget the cab company that owns no vehicles. There are many examples of how disruption can cause the industries of yesterday to completely evaporate today. When you peel back the skin, you will see it wasn’t the birth of a new industry that destroyed the old one. It was rather a lack of creativity and innovation. The fact is - industries are stubborn – they don’t want to modify themselves, they perceive their old way to be just fine.
“Perceived stability is the biggest threat to a company’s willingness to innovate” RJS.
Most organizations cannot comprehend completely destroying parts or even all of their business model to create another. Their stubbornness causes a brainwashing effect that their way is the only way; this thinking blocks their creativity. The undeniable truth is: your customer just wants a desired outcome. The means to achieve it is - irrelevant.
Your customers leave when they find more value in the new way, which will most likely be a completely different means to achieve it.
Consider Uber, which I am a fan of. Uber transports people - so does yellow cab, and many other cab service companies. The problem: the cab industry just couldn’t comprehend not having fleets of cars. Their customers just wanted a ride from point A to B. The cab industry never anticipated that a smart phone would be a competitor. No one thought that a simple app could revolutionize an industry, not to mention the other industries which will fall prey to this innovation.
Think about the Print Industry. Print Manufacturers built networks of dealers to sell and then service equipment they manufacture. Print manufacturers, like all other Manufacturers make things first. All manufacturers’ products are currently the only means to what their customers want. As an example, the only purpose for the existence of print equipment is to put documents in their customer’s hands. Does anyone other than print manufacturers really believe, with the technology available today, the best way to get documents into a person’s hand is to print them?
The future for this manufacturer and all manufacturers will be determined by the customer who stops using their products. This phase always starts out customer by customer. However, sooner than later, an industry collapses. No manufacturer can change this fact; no industry has the ability to protect and sustain what they hope won’t change. Customers want to accomplish things; the means to accomplishment is not what they care about.
Think about the successes of organizations such as Facebook, Amazon, or Netflix. Facebook changed the way of communication and collaboration; Amazon delivers the shopping mall to your door; Netflix brings the theater to your living room. These three organizations have and will continue to cause disruption to deliverables and markets; and most have no idea they are coming.
Facebook came from innovative college kids who changed the means to communicate with each other, then delivered it to the world.
The malls and department stores focused more on the delivery mechanism. The customer just wanted the merchandise - Amazon changed the means to get the merchandise.
Blockbuster thought it was the video store customers wanted. Customers wanted the movie. Netflix made the means to the movie more valuable.
Retail brick and mortar stores were then, and still are today, too stubborn to modify.
Organizations must clearly understand it’s the result of what their product or service provides that is more important to its customers than the means to accomplish it. Organizations’ innovation paths cannot solely be about improving the way you manufacture, deliver, or service on its own. Your innovation platform must consider ways to completely re-invent your means of delivery, which could mean destroying the old way. This is a drastic approach, and most organizations struggle in comprehending the concept.
“Participates of like minds can easily fool themselves into reaming status quo” RJS
Most industries collaborate with commonality; they gather together at trade shows, they share educational platforms, they use the same tools, and they share their best practices. This close fitting collaboration allows them to share in common successes – that is when their deliverable and the means to which it is delivered has successes.
They will however also share the pain as their deliverable, or its means of delivery, is replaced by the better way. The problem with industry specific trade shows - they never really discuss ways to re-invent their means. They mainly focus on ways to improve their means, and they can easily become cheerleading meet-and-greet venues for peddling status quo.
Some of the participants understand this - they listen, they learn, and they have an ability to think past what is held up in front of them.
The philosophy of sharing best practices seems extremely reasonable. However this can easily cause stagnation. Obviously, looking at the results of others and taking away lessons for doing something better on the surface makes sense.
As a caution, remember the great quote from Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad.
“When you look in the same places everyone else is looking, you miss the same things everyone else is missing.”
Transformation takes an absolute passion; it does not come with directions. It writes them. Leaders who look for agreement or believe they need consensus to initiate change will fail at implementing change.
The need for transformation is mostly always recognized. I call this recognized stage “the time for consultants”.
Every industry has consultants. Some are truly passionate in helping guide their client through the agony of change, and some will simple accommodate their client, telling them what they want to hear and allow them to continually re-hire them. I am of the belief that if any consultant allows the client to ignore them and continues in their employment, they are better sales people than consultants.
Leadership today must not only welcome, they must be diligent in constantly looking for ways not to just improve - they must look to re-invent.
“Your customers don’t care particularly how it’s accomplished, they value the benefit from what’s accomplished”.
The question is: can you re-invent your deliverable? And can you do it before someone else not only re-invents it, but before they deliver it as well?
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