Looking in the Mirror
New and improved can only be born when the need for change is recognized and owned. Success and innovation can, of course, sometimes happen by accident, but that is a challenging strategy foundation for any company.
Many companies are in a situation where sales curves are deteriorating. The solution is often expenditure cutting, and streamlining and improving current operations. That just doesn’ t work. Many lines of business have undergone such changes that the old bag of tricks is simply outdated. By cutting and saving the downhill gets a bit easier, but it cannot be turned into an uphill.
I completely understand that company management and the people who created the current strategy have a hard time admitting that they are now perhaps not all they have been in the past. ”During the past decades we created cashflow and got over recessions, and we will do so again”. You will not, unless you radically re-think the basis of your business. The enormous change in customer behaviour caused by digitalisation and international online stores take many companies’ sales permanently out of reach. It is not a sin or a denigration of company history to want to change things for the better by challenging old business models, if the need for it is clearly visible in sales figures and can be heard from the customers’ lips.
Why don’t we make the changes then? The answer is in a corporate culture lacking balls. A culture that favours evolution over revolution. A culture, which encourages to achieve the goals of the next quarter at any cost, and a culture that considers their operations a success if a project goes as planned. When this kind of culture is dominant the upper management, and especially the middle management focus only on achieving their own goals, which results in the pseudo achievement of goals, and in fact the end result is a sum of partial optimations, which were unsuccessful considering the whole. Few have the courage to challenge the business basis of the company they run. It takes guts to tell the board that the foundation on which the operations are built, which have required millions in investment, are not quite the hoped for secrets of success. However, these are the things that should be at the top of every executive’s and board’s to-do list. ”Risking” your own job for the right cause is a wonderful adventure. I sincerely recommend it.
We are afraid of making mistakes. We are afraid that the revolutionary project we suggested goes to hell. This is not tolerated in most Finnish companies, you might be fired. But fear not! Every person with the ability to look at the truth straight in the eye and reach the appropriate conclusions will absolutely make it. These are the leaders Finland needs, and we can all be one, if we so decide.
Looking in the Mirror Top 5
- Put your company and the facts of competition (field) on the table, including the foundation.
- Question your own awesomeness / wonderfulness openly.
- Think about how your customers will act in 3-5 years, focus on it, and take action.
- Be bold enough to share your observations with the whole organization and its owners.
- Do not be afraid of failure. Staying still is the worst option.
The writer is Strategy Leader of Kissconsulting Ltd. He has long experience as a commercial leader and CEO in the travel business.