“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden
An organization I spend a lot of time with recently took a few hours to work through a change success model, the idea being to identify potential barriers to change. We talked about things like change readiness, capability, beliefs, etc. Eventually we identified 2-3 key change success factors that need to be improved on.
The whole process was very valuable and it caused me to start thinking the idea of competitive advantages in the marketplace. We always talk about things like quality, service, price, etc., and those things certainly can be to our advantage. The reality in our current world, however, is that nearly anything like that can and will be copied by somebody else. You might have the highest quality product, but eventually somebody will be able to do what you do as well as you do. You might have great service, but eventually somebody else’s will be better.
Here’s my point: the only way to sustain any advantage in your marketplace is to be great at change. The only way to keep people from catching up to you in terms of product quality is to constantly be changing the level of quality of your product. The only way to keep people from catching up to you in terms of customer service is to constantly be changing the level of service you provide. What it really boils down to is that while your competitive advantage may be any number of things, what really will make it sustainable is your ability to innovate and then implement those innovations (i.e., change).
So think about your business. Most businesses at least attempt to evaluate how good they are at standard things (quality, service, etc) – but that’s not enough. How often do you evaluate how good you are change? I’ve been in a lot of meetings with clients where we talk about strengths and weaknesses as compared to competitors, or the strengths and weaknesses of a production process, or the strengths and weaknesses of customer service reps. How often to you talk about strengths and weaknesses when it comes to change? Do you even have a framework for that? If the only way to sustain a competitive advantage in the market is to be able to change well, doesn’t that seem like something you should be paying attention to?
Most of you are in your business for the long haul. Successful change has to be part of that long view. What are you doing to make sure change is your strength – and not your undoing?