In the previous Daily Thought I shared the simple idea that change management approaches often miss a big elephant in the room: what is actually not for change? Also I mentioned that the case for change is much stronger when we state what is not for change, what remains untouched and why.
In one of the Sunday papers I was reminded of Jeff Bezos’s view on strategic, commercial change. The paragraph is worth replicating here:
I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. It’s impossible to imagine a future where a customer comes up and says, ‘Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,’ [or] ‘I love Amazon; I just wish you’d deliver a little more slowly.’
As in ‘change management’, strategic thinking and planning often misses that Bezos moment. Of course this may be dismissed by many under the view that all that is usually implicit in the strategic plan itself. Frankly, it’s not my experience. It may be implicit and hidden but I have hardly seen it well articulated: this will not change, this we will not do.
The Disruption Religion misses the point. Lots of people go into a Holy Quest for a kind of disruptive old Skype or a disruptive new Uber and either get frustrated, even feel failure when they don’t find one, or are content with bringing a Disruptive Replication.
Disruptive Thinking, Disruptive Ideas and Disruptive Innovation is not Disruptive Religion. I am afraid the cultists seem to win many times when they dismiss the discontinuity built upon continuity. Translation: a strategy quantum leap may not be disruptive ( of markets) but may be the most fantastic thing you ever did. And outperform the disruptors. Incrementalism, however, is pure survival.
I’d love to hear from people more of ‘this is what we are, this is what we do, and now we will take over the world, next year, no pressure’.
The pseudo quest for the Mother of all Eureka Disruptions is overrated and usually ends in tears.
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