Taking Advantage of Change

From elections to social unrest to COVID-19 and everything between, we’ve faced a lot of changes this year. And while we’ve seen a lot, there’s more change to come. If you’re unsure how to respond to all of it, you’re not alone. Taking advantage of change is hard, but not impossible. And those that do it successfully experience phenomenal growth.

Those companies that succeed are those that see change as positive. You can too. We’ve identified a few principles to share that will help you navigate the times ahead. As you accept and embrace change it will give you an advantage for your business and your life.

Principle 1: Change is scary, but it’s better than the alternative.

Many times with change, we get scared. That’s a natural response when we’re confronted with something other than the status quo. Sometimes changes make us think we’re going to lose money, customers, or employees. It can mean stronger competition or new, unknown competitors in the market. Sometimes it’s technology or regulations which make us have to shift how we operate. Or our supply chain gets disrupted. There are many more changes that might manifest to make us worry. And the reality is – as change emerges, many businesses will fail.

But the good thing about change is that the strong survive. They survive because, at the sight of change and risk of failure, they ask questions about how to overcome it.

  • First, they look at Why. Why are we in business? Do we have a vision and mission to get us through this? If your business doesn’t have a vision and mission yet, get one!
  • Second, they look at Who. Who is our customer? How are their needs changing? What are they looking for that we can provide for them?
  • Third, is What. What are the best opportunities to pursue in light of the change? What will give us the growth that we seek?
  • Next is When. When should we pursue these opportunities? What’s the short term vs the long term? Timing is everything.
  • Next is How. How can we leverage our capabilities? What are we exceptional at and how can we maximize it?
  • Finally, Where. Where can we make improvements in what we do? Where can we get leaner, smarter, faster, and better?

What we’ve seen in the past is that businesses that embrace change are the ones that thrive. Like Blockbuster, Kodak, and dozens of retailers this year alone – companies that ignore change pay the price.

Principle 2: Change can lead to growth if you navigate it well.

By understanding the world around you, you can transform your business. To get the growth you want, you need to start by embracing change. Recognizing it for what it is – a catalyst to growth. Once you’ve done that, you can start down the growth path.

  • Step 1: Study what’s changing. This means research. Every project, strategy, or decision should start with research. When you have the data behind you, you can make more confident decisions.
  • Step 2: Understand the impact. When you know what the effects of change will be you can form a better strategy. That reasoned strategy will drive your business forward with clarity and purpose.
  • Step 3: Create new solutions. This means innovation. When we adapt to changes in the market with new-to-business and new-to-world offerings, we achieve new growth.

This is the blueprint and the process that we use to navigate companies and organizations through the changes around them. Taking advantage of change starts by embracing it.

Principle 3: Change must be studied since it affects us in many ways.

To understand change, we first need to study it. There are many things to look at to make sure we’re recognizing all the change out there. In essence, we need to look through multiple lenses to get the full picture of what’s going on. The goal is to build a viewpoint of the world so you can figure out how to adapt to it.

The major lenses to look through are:

  • Customer lens: how their wants and needs are changing and what new customers desire
  • Competition lens: whether direct or indirect, you need to identify what competitors are doing to take your market share
  • Technology lens: this can often be the biggest disrupter to business, for your benefit or your detriment
  • Regulatory lens: while often overlooked, this can often affect you in negative and positive ways
  • Value chain lens: what is happening both up and down the value chain and everywhere between can affect how you can respond

Those causes of change can lead us to look at the right effects of market, brand, business model, environment, and product/service offerings.

Principle 4: Change should impact your decisions and pivot your plans.

Now that we understand how this new world looks, we can map those changes back to our business. Typically, companies are fixated on one point of change but it should be a combination of them. These combinations help form alternate realities. And these different realities will affect many aspects of your business including:

  • Staying true to your business: mission, vision, and value
  • Respond to customers: brand, products, and services
  • Operating and executing day to day: business units, capabilities, and technologies

A look at the changes ahead can give you a clear direction. It will point your business forward with internal focus and market responses adapted to what’s to come.

Principle 5: Change inspires new solutions, helping your business evolve.

Once you’ve recognized the new opportunities that are out there, it’s time to create new solutions that can meet customer needs. This is where innovation comes in. Historically, change has been the catalyst for new innovation. From Johannes Gutenberg to John Deere to Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg, those that have innovated have done so because of change in the market.

Anyone can create new offerings as they seek to fill customer needs. It’s simply a matter of finding new ways to deliver value. You can:

  • Create new offerings with technology, product, or service innovation
  • Reinvent delivery of those products through business model innovation
  • Design new experiences through marketing and social innovation
  • Form new connections through brand innovation
  • Build new networks and influencers through channel innovation.

The ways to innovate are many, but they come because of change. It was the 2008 crash that started Uber, Airbnb, Groupon, Venmo, and other tech companies from a time of great change. We will see new innovation from the COVID-19 pandemic as well. But it shouldn’t take a pandemic to change. It starts with a mindset that embraces change.

Key takeaways

When faced with change, both in business and in life, it’s important to remember:

  • Change is good; embrace it!
  • Change is navigable with the right blueprint. Don’t panic!
  • Research change through multiple lenses for maximum impact.
  • Map to your strategy to change for confidence in your direction.
  • Innovation and new solutions based on change can propel your business forward.

Change is not an obstacle to overcome. By looking taking advantage of change and seeing it as a positive, you can continue to thrive in the market and transform your business.