By Dianne Crampton
As the saying goes, “The only thing you can count on is change,” and in this economy and chaotic business climate nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the last few years, we have seen the greatest recession since the Great Depression, a housing bubble burst overnight, financial markets tumble, unsuccessful bailouts, and traditional jobs disappear into thin air. So why do corporations, small business owners, and organizations have the mindset to bury their head in the sand and continue “business as usual?” Today’s business culture is in transition and if you continue forward with the status quo, you could be out of business sooner than you think.
Good Old Days at the “C” Suite
In the not so long ago, good old days (pre 2007) business growth meant massive hiring, money thrown at capital expenditures, and a rigid chain of command to inaccessible management. And… forget about employees voices being heard or acknowledged at the “C” suite level! In today’s abruptly changing business culture, leaders can’t afford to be demanding, self-serving, and at the helm of an organization that is slow to respond to a changing global marketplace.
So how do 21st century organizations remain competitive when the rules of the game have changed? According to authors of the Elastic Enterprise, Haydn Shaughnessy and Nicholas Vitalari, it means successful organizations will master the ability to move into new geographical markets or new product areas that aren’t part of the firm’s core competencies. It means stepping outside the core of the business and operating in new markets with assurance and ease.
Your Business Plan Shelf Life has Expired
These companies go beyond traditional business strategies of updating the annual business plan and then putting it back on the shelf until the following year. These companies are “elastic” and utilize an active, action planning approach in business that enables them to act upon new opportunities in “real time.”
They are infinitely more agile and can grow without massive increases in overhead and management. IBM has celebrated its 100th birthday because it constantly redefines itself, going from hardware manufacturer to service provider. Google has made strides in dominating the marketplace in leaps and bounds. From humble beginnings as a search engine provider, they stepped outside their core business into the mobile arena, applications, and conducting business in the cloud.
Does Innovation Create Jobs?
According to GE’s recently released Global Innovation Barometer, nearly 3,000 senior executives in 22 nations around the world were surveyed. Ninety-two percent of respondents said innovation is “the main ingredient for a more competitive national economy” and 86 percent said that “innovation is the best way to create jobs” in their countries. But just how do you define “innovation?” Do companies in the 21st century have to keep inventing the next “i-pod” phenomenon to remain competitive in the market? The answer is a simple …no.
Innovation in this day and age means that companies have to learn “to think differently” than in the past. Leaders need to ask themselves some hard, fundamental questions such as:
- Are your company’s new products really the result of unique work? Or are you just putting pretty packaging over the same widget?
- Are your human resource policies streamlined to retain top performers and to recruit team members that reflect your core values? Is there training and e-learning in place to give team members the chance to grow with the company?
- Do your own management styles encourage team collaboration and loyalty? Engaged organizations have 3.9 times the earnings-per-share growth rate compared with that of organizations with lower engagement in their same industry.
- Have you tapped into the hidden skill sets within your own workforce? Star performers can be found at all levels within an organization. Talented employees will soon become disengaged and seek employment elsewhere if they are unchallenged or feel they are not making a significant contribution. Gallup calculated the number of extremely miserable employees — right at 20 million nationwide. Be assured they will be jumping ship when the economy brightens!
- Are your departmental teams nimble enough to respond to quickly changing market demands or are they bogged down from poor communication and internal politics. If so, project deadlines are being missed and your organization’s reputation is on the line.
- Do you know what many Fortune 500 companies know when it comes to hiring new team members? Along with MBAs and engineers, they have hired humanities majors, art majors, and designers to bring a variety of fresh perspectives and ways of thinking to the table.
Don’t become a lumbering dinosaur in 2012 with outdated human relation policies and management practices. “Innovate” a new model of wealth creation, team member retention, and allocation of resources. “Business as usual” in this new economy is the fastest way to become extinct and replaced by an agile competitor.