Getting a Grasp on the New Normal: How Change Can Boost Your Business, 2010
By Alan Lewis
Today, most organizations believe they are not working as well as they used to. Their leaders blame the rapid and unpredictable changes that are going on around them. But many of them have failed to grasp one fundamental truth: change is the new constant.
To be successful in the 21st century requires accepting that change is here to stay. Consider the case of Netflix. The company is nearing the end of one of its most successful years - its stock prices have doubled, the subscriber base jumped by 52 percent in the third quarter and its site now accounts for 20 percent of all Internet traffic during the typical American evening. While so many of its competitors (i.e. Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, etc.) are struggling, Netflix has shown a great affinity to reacting and responding to today's environment - adapting its services to the internet and mobile devices.
Like Netflix, companies across industries are seeing constant change as a tunnel to innovation, success and sustainability. And one of the most critical components for success is now the ability to build a culture that can adapt and thrive in change. As the founder and chairman of Grand Circle Corporation for the last 25 years, I have seen my fair share of change. After all, our organization operates in one of the most volatile and unpredictable industries on the planet: international travel.
We realized early on that change is a persistent condition every successful organization must address. But beyond the travel industry, every business environment is fraught with levels of uncertainty. Leaders must remember to look outside their companies - that way, when a big change does happen, they're not blindsided or caught off guard.
While there's no way of anticipating what tomorrow will bring, leaders should strive to stay ahead of the change in their industry by spotting trends in their embryonic stage. How so? Actively seek information, pay special attention to what your customers are saying and stay close to forward-thinking business professors - this won't necessarily give you 20/20 vision into the future of your company, but you'll be ahead of the game in many ways.
As other companies feel the sting and see the advantages of mastering change, there are five lessons that have helped Grand Circle thrive and grow - despite the unpredictable environment - that can be applied to any organization:
- Flexibility Trumps Efficiency - Focus on fostering flexibility within your organization; it will help ensure that those around you are behind and a part of the change in your company.
- Mission and Vision Creates Inspiration - Inspire those around you with a mission and vision that supports growth and change.
- Values, Not Structures, Drive Effective Organizations - Values should be at the base of your corporate culture; if there's too much emphasis on structure, you're not leaving any room for change.
- Investments in People and Learning Create Advantage - Allow your employees to grow and change as your company continues to evolve and take on new areas of competency.
- Relentless Measurement of Excellence is Essential - Make sure you're keeping a pulse on the progress of your organizations; you'll be able to see what strategies are yielding results.
As the "new normal" emerges - companies must be prepared. Change is right around the corner. Are you ready?
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