manage change

Opportunity Wedge

Change made in pursuit of opportunities can also eliminate other opportunities.  But the same can be said for the lack purposeful change.  While decisions and change are not the same, they are closely related.  Indecisions and inaction has consequences on a level equal to purposeful decisions and change.  Remember, change happens.  You either change to prosper and survive or natural forces change you and your environment and for the worse.  The Opportunity Wedge conveys that each decision and indecision, each change (purposeful or not) impacts future options and opportunities for a company.  In business, management should consider the impact of changes on future opportunities.  They fight against the normal narrowing of the wedge.  The company that moves from Lifecycle to Lifecycle, and carefully considers the impact of their action and inaction on the future, will have an Opportunity Wedge that is more like an elongated open ended box—the upper line represents maximum opportunities and the lower line represents no alternative (or new) opportunities will be more parallel—avoiding the normal linear narrowing of the wedge.  They keep their options open.  Using the example of Underwood—the fact that they decided they were a typewriter company rather than a document production company narrowed the wedge to a sharp point and that led to their eventual disappearance as a company and then as a brand.  On the other hand, Steve Jobs at Apple would not limit that business to a “computer company.” 

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Change by Decree

One of the wrong ways to implement change is by decree—“Do it because I said to!” or “Do it because I’m the boss.”  The problem with Change by Decree is that it is unmanaged.  It could be successful or it could fail.  The arrows in the icon illustrate that the reaction to the change can be all over the board.  It is uncontrolled.  People don’t react well to forced change so one thing is sure, whatever success is achieved, if any, it will be at a greater cost than for properly managed change.  Remember the icon for the condition required before the downward spike of the Change Curve is halted and turned upward—KASH.  Change by Decree does nothing to create a positive attitude, sabotaging the likely outcome from the onset.  Unmanaged change endangers any organization.

If change is so risky and dangerous, one might conclude that it is something to avoid.  The answer, of course, is that you can’t.  Change is the very essence of business.  Yes, change left unattended can destroy the business.  Likewise, change occurring around you that is left un-responded to reduces your competiveness and can even eliminate the market for your goods or services.  Too often entrenched market leaders ignore the changes occurring from disruptive technology or innovation.  They focus on the quality, “wrong Q”.  The Underwood company thought of itself as a typewriter company not as company to help people produce documents.  If they had viewed themselves as the latter, they might still be around.

Survival requires businesses to respond to a constantly changing environment.  Consider the chances of surviving in the music industry as vinyl was displaced by CDs only to lose out to the downloading of digital songs.  Consider what it was like to survive in the technology business as main frames and service bureaus were replaced by mini-computers which were quickly replaced by desktop computers now under assault from the “cloud” and a host of handheld devices and pads.  How does one survive in the telecommunications communications field now that the Internet is here?  How would you like to have been the leading manufacturer of FAX machines?  Consider the publishing industry now transitioning from the print age to the digital age.  Long-term survival requires companies to embrace change, not avoid it!

Change by Decree, forcing change on people, is unmanaged.  It may work or it may not.  The response to forced change, “Do it because I said to,” is random and unpredictable.

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