IBM released their report 'Making Change Work' over seven years ago. In essence, it predicted that adapting to continuous disruptive change will become a necessity for successful long term business.
The world in 2015 is one that's a dramatically changed one, albeit a place IBM predicted. Thriving in a fast-moving, constantly disrupted and innovative business place requires leaders to adopt to all sorts of novel approaches. Hence, strategic thinking about the future and the skills that will mould it is a necessity for those hoping for ongoing success.
So, how do you make change work for your business and future proof it?
Employees are your Backbone
There's an old business idea which suggests hiring people smarter than you. It makes a lot of sense. Additionally, inspiring people to innovate and giving them the room to expand on good ideas is also something companies look to the future do. Building a culture that encourages employees to be innovative and to experiment empowers them and gets them involved in interesting projects, inspires them and gets them involved in something outside of their typical role. It creates greater employee satisfaction, increases motivation, lowers turnover and also might be the thing that allows your business to break out from its core product and get its next big win. This can be a notably large competitive advantage. Replicon recently created this PDF on the competitive benefits of better employees.
Learning something new is as great of motivation to do something as anything. Offering employees the chance to upskill benefits your business and also your employees. It benefits your workplace, it helps your customers and it in turn will help you create a long term success from your business even in a changing marketplace.
According from Andrew Young from We Do Training: "Businesses that adapt and train create a work environment where employees thrive and also want to offer the sort of input that creates the changes that are revered in the future."
Avoid Founders Dilemma
A lot of entrepreneurs and founders tend to lose touch with what the consumer wants. This is known as 'founders dilemma'. However, being aware that you need to stay immersed in your market and need to stay in touch with cutting-edge entrepreneurs helps greatly. Staying connected ensures you know of changes in your industry and can continue to delight customers. This can be done through close observation of the market, crowdsourcing ideas and attending events where you meet people in person and gain insight from them on how best to serve their needs.
Leave the Comfort Zone
Expanding your capabilities and your comfort zone allows you to learn and grow and extend insights and abilities. The greater depth of professional resources you can lean on, the greater the flexibility and the more dynamic you will be. In a world of constant change, flexibility is as close to future proofing as you can get.
Past and Present
According to Richard Branson, just because a brand has been around for decades doesn't mean its okay for the world of today. Rebranding for the future can be very important for brands that may once have been cutting edge but are now outdated and seen as something only older people may use.
Owing to the pace of change, brands should be constantly looking to evolve their products. There are few products in any market that are good enough to remain stagnant. In the UK, people use the phrase "it's like painting the Forth Bridge." This references the fact that the painters of the particular bridge in Edinburgh had to start painting the bridge from the start again immediately after they got to the far side. Continuous improvement is a prerequisite of future proofing a business.
According to corporate intelligent professionals Aperio Intelligence, money and balance sheets alone don't tell the full story of how a business is doing. For instance, investing in new software infrastructure may cost a lot in the short term. However, it may allow you to add new features and improve upon your offerings and provide a lot of value over a long-term horizon. Gather business intelligence before making a decision and then adjust as you get feedback from the actions. Remember, short-term gains aren't ideal bedfellows for long-term ones.
A business that understands the future is different from the present and goes about preparing to seize not just the day today, but prepares for those in the future too, is one that greatly increases its chances of long-term success.