We know that a number of businesses will not make it but a number will be asking themselves the following questions:
What’s the cure?
What can we do to stay to keep our heads above water?
For many, the initial knee-jerk reaction is not actually a reaction at all. The temptation is to hold on to the past as much as possible and pray that the storm blows over.
Are you or fellow board members saying any of the following?
“We just need to wait for the market to recover, and then it is business as usual!”
“The trouble is a blip, let’s just wait and see.”
“It is too risky to act on incomplete information. Let’s allow things develop — we can always take action later.”
This desire to hold on to the past, to endure whatever the harsh environment has to offer, is well known to social scientists.
Summarising a 2010 study, Social Psychologist Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson wrote:
“People who saw a painting described as having been painted in 1905 found it far more pleasing to look at than people who saw the same painting described as created in 2005.
Students preferred the course requirement described as the status quo over a new version (regardless of whether the new version meant more or less coursework).
People who were told that acupuncture had been in existence for 2,000 years expressed more favorable attitudes toward it than those who were told it existed for 250 years.
Study participants were given a piece of European chocolate. It was described to them as having first been sold in its region either 73 years ago or 3 years ago. Guess which group rated the chocolate as better-tasting…”
As far as organisational change is concerned, there are three primary emotions at play. These are cynicism, fear, and acceptance. Two of these are negative and one positive. Surveys following organisational change put the negative emotions top of the list. Positive emotions are nowhere to be seen.
So it would seem that we have an inbuilt desire for things to stick around as long as possible and avoid change because of the negative emotions that it conjures up.
We all want to last, continue and get back to “business as usual.” We want to hold on to the world just the way it is.
This is exactly where the problem lies and why so many of our transformation efforts fail. It is the desire to stick with the status quo that kills our businesses.
Whyis this? As with life in the natural world, sustainability is not a driver for survival. But change is!
Every day, things change. We breathe in and out, becoming a different person with every molecule of oxygen that enters our bloodstream (it is said that every day you are guaranteed to inhale at least one of the molecules of air that passed through Genghis Khan’s lungs!).
The seasons and weather change, crops grow.
We survive the ups and downs of the stock exchange and commodity markets. Nothing is constant. Change is unrelenting. So if hanging on is not the best strategy for our businesses, what can we do?
The secret lies in working out what our business is exactly. You might produce cardboard boxes on a production line but is your business one of production or packaging? You need to distill the essence of your business idea (maybe focus on the packaging) and throw away everything else.
If you get this right then you can reinvent your business over and over again according to changes in markets, customer buying habits, etc. Our fictitious box making company could become experts in sustainable (or recyclable) packaging solutions for the automotive sector.
Focus on knowledge and core skills as well as what product or service you actually provide.
Instead of desperately trying to stay in your current business by all means possible, it is time for you to get out of the business and get into a new one!