How To Manage The Evolution of Your Business
How To Manage The Evolution of Your Business
By Mark Wager
Between 65 to 245 million years ago Dinosaurs walked the Earth. They were the largest and the most powerful animals that ever walked the planet yet today the most dominant species is mankind. The difference between the two is evolution. Humans have evolved from their ancient ancestors into modern day Homo Sapiens while Dinosaurs bar some rare exceptions died out. The same is true in business. It's not the company with the biggest budget or the best product that survives, it's not even the most innovative company. To survive in business you have to successfully evolve in order to survive and in order to succeed it's the businesses that evolve most effectively.
Virgin started out as a record studio and is now better known as an international airline. Apple started making computers in a garage yet today is the world's largest manufacturer of phones. Red Bull is a drinks company who moved in the world of Formula One racing and won four world championships. Like everyone in business these companies faced change yet they embraced change as a natural part of their business and as a result controlled their evolution rather than become a victim of it.
In order to avoid the fate of the dinosaurs you have to look at the two core business principles that companies like Virgin, Red Bull and Apple embraced in order to control their destiny.
The success of a business is limited by the ambition of its leaders. If you want to be truly successful then you need to stop focussing on what is and focus more on what could be. A mental exercise I use with businesses that I coach is the "no excuses, what would it take" game. During this exercise I get leaders to tell me their dream for their company, then we work through how this can happen and every time they can't progress any further because of an obstacle like "we don't have enough money" or "we don't have the right people" then I jump in and say no excuses, what would it take. This forces the leader to adopt a method of thinking called "lateral thinking"
Lateral thinking is a term coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono. It's is described as the ability to solve problems by using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and may not be obtainable by using traditional logic. Once you adopt this way of thinking you start realising that almost anything is possible and the prevalent question in your business becomes "why not?" instead of looking at reason why you can't succeed. It's this type of thinking that made Apple believe it could make computers small enough to fit in your hand and for Virgin to believe that owning and running an airline was the next logical step.
Create an environment that people enjoy working in.
People will work hard for money but they will be willing to give their life for their family. Success is never an individual pursuit and requires many people to be fully committed to the cause. Christian Horner, Team principal of Red Bull has stated that the key reason for their successes is down to their people. Recruiting smart, driven people who get along together, working for and supporting each other. For the Red Bull team it's not a job it's a passion. Even with a financial budget of $250 million money means nothing unless you have the right people.
In business as well as in life strong relationships can't be demanded they have to be earned. This is a significant challenge for businesses as creating relationships across a number of people involves a range of complex personalities with different values and priorities. The first step is to hire people who are not just smart enough to do the job but has the personal values that you want in your business. I knew from personal experience of coaching people all around the world that it's far easier to train people the skills to do a job than it is to train someone to be a good person.
Look at what people need rather than what they want.
Every business should have a good relationship with their customers. They should seek feedback on what services or products people like yet if you want to evolve your business you need to do more. It's not what people want that counts it's want they need and people don't always know what they need if they haven't had it before. Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company and one of the most successful business men of all time once said that "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse" it's almost unthinkable now but there was a time that the motor car wasn't an essential family purchase, in fact demand was low yet Henry Ford saw what other people didn't including his own customers and as a result he changed the world.
Again this is a difficult concept to integrate into a company otherwise every company would be doing it but the start is to stop thinking of your product or service as the end result and start focusing on the "why" behind your customers purchase. What need are they fulfilling by purchasing your product or service and what other ways can this need be met. If you can incorporate this with the lateral thinking techniques then you too may be able to change the world.
The business world is a tough, unforgiving world and one which is constantly changing. The question is not when change comes but the question is how you cope with the change when it comes. In the business world you either evolve or die - the choice is yours.
"If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu
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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Posted: Monday 20 June 2016