Staying on top in times of change

7th January, 2015

Ever had that gnawing feeling that something wasn’t quite right in your business, even though on the face of it, everything is tracking along ok? This year’s MYOB Roadshow keynote, Michael McQueen, thinks that could signal the start of you or your company becoming irrelevant.

“Most businesses, industries, brands or team ideas are well and truly along the track of becoming obsolete, well before there is any external indication of it,” he says.

Over the last ten years, Michael has spoken to more than 200,000 people across the globe about the demographic shifts and social trends which have caused even the greatest businesses to crumble.

His latest book, Winning the Battle for Relevance, explores how even established and iconic brands have become obsolete. He offers advice and tips for organisations and leaders to avoid suffering the same fate.

MYOB Roadshow attendees can look forward to walking away inspired and refreshed. Michael says that rather than looking at the failure of particular organisations or industries, his focus will be on the success stories.

“The most exciting stories are about the companies with diverse teams who adapted and stayed relevant by re-inventing and re-thinking. They paid attention to the opportunities and responded to the threats and regained momentum and relevance,” Michael says.

In the lead up to this year’s MYOB Roadshow, Michael shared with us five key ways that businesses can “survive and thrive amidst the changes ahead”.

1 › Re-Calibrate

While an appetite for change is critical to staying ahead of the curve, it is first important to discern which fundamentals in an organization should never change. Just as it is necessary to determine which walls are load-bearing when renovating a house, leaders must identify the non-negotiable values, principles and purpose which must never change. Tamper with these ‘load bearing’ fundamentals and everything may come crashing down.

Before embarking on any change agenda this year, it is vital to first re-calibrate an organisation with its core DNA and allow this to be a guidepost for strategy and a touchstone for decision-making.

2 › Re-Fresh

Any gardener knows that regular pruning is necessary to maintain the health and vitality of a garden. In the same way, organizations require regular pruning of initiatives, traditions and even people who are inhibiting future growth. While pruning can be painful and even disruptive in the short term, it is nonetheless critically important.

Consider how Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has embarked on a series of necessary pruning initiatives recently. In the face of $6.4 billion loss for 2012 and a dramatic downgrade of Sony’s credit rating, Hirai recognized that he would need to act quickly to turn around his ailing tech-giant’s fortunes.

His first step was to end Sony’s decade-long marriage with Swedish mobile phone company, Ericsson. Next, Hirai spun off any Sony-owned non-core companies, dramatically streamlined manufacturing processes and cut Sony’s global workforce by roughly 10,000 employees.

3 › Re-Frame

We were all raised to believe the lie that great minds think alike. Nothing could be further from the truth! The greatest and most creative minds have always thought very differently from their peers and the prevailing wisdom of their era. Being able to view the world from a different frame of reference is in fact the key to innovation and invention.

Leaders must pay particularly close attention to the views and perspectives of those who have fresh eyes in an organization – often owing to their lack of experience. Such fresh eyes have no trouble thinking outside the box and seeing creative alternatives to the status quo because they have no idea what the ‘box’ even looks like yet.

4 › Re-Engineer

Keeping pace with change will require leaders and organizations to continually re-engineer their internal systems and processes. Too often, being ‘in a groove’ can easily turn into a ‘rut’ and simply repeating the habits that have worked in the past can set you on a collision course with inefficiency and irrelevance.

Staying relevant will always require businesses and leaders to make internal changes before they are forced to do so by external forces. As Steve Jobs famously observed; if you are not willing to cannibalise your own business, someone else will do it for you.

5 › Re-Position

As times and needs evolve, so must the positioning of businesses and brands.

Consider how an enduring brand like Lego has done this successfully over their 80- year history. Far from the days of simply manufacturing plastic blocks, Lego have been quick to embrace new technologies and approaches that have resulted in the brand remaining powerfully relevant. To their credit, this process of re-invention has never come at the cost of their core DNA. Lego are still a company committed to inspiring imagination and play but they have brilliantly re-invented the way they do this.

Want to see more of Michael McQueen at MYOB Roadshow 2015?

Head on over to our MYOB Roadshow registration page to learn more about the event, where it’s being held (major citys, and a a tonne of smaller regional events), and who’s presenting!