For a period of about 8 or 9 years back in ‘the day’ – I found myself in a position recruited by companies who wanted someone who would go in and ‘shake them up’ and establish new ways of working, new products etc . These companies were all well established and had at one time been leaders in their field.. well known names, but found themselves in decline or a rut where they needed to change in order to adapt and grow.
The Pendulum Effect.
There’s a set of laws for doing this work…. and they state that going in you will get a lot of support for innovation and shaking things up and a lot of excitement…..
When you explain that some old ways have to go, some things have to change, you often are also met with a lot of excitement and support.
And when you explain that this transition takes time, sacrifice, change and will mean some hard time before the success, that’s also often met with a “yes we understand”
Then it changes…..
Showing the figures, the real customer perception, the value of the product in the real light of day is almost always a shock.. “But we’ve always been the best !” comes the reply… Well maybe you were but that was then and this is now” i say to them… Showing them they believed their own press so much to bolster confidence and try to drive sales, they lost the objective view..they lost touch with the client base..
Customer surveys are always a wake up call… as are market comparisons.. nothing sheds the dust of age old perceptions than that.. BUT it scares people who have found comfort in the “we are the best” world…
At this point a timer starts …. and the question is… just how much change can i push through before the fear and growing resentment of bursting their comfort bubble means I get sacked or ganged up on and forced to leave..
In one situation, the company owned the two major movie production studios in the UK.. The internal perception was the one, the great grandfather with the ‘bigger’ reputation was the better business.. Truth was the opposite.. At a management and senior staff conference we demonstrated that this perception was flawed as the less established studio was more flexible, more client friendly, had better customer feedback and a more connected management who we very active players in the media world.. while the others decided there were very much the media world and work had to come to them..
This was an opportunity to embrace the reality and bring the best working practices to both studios.. it was ignored and instead everyone was told that what was once great still is great. The investors weren’t so sure because of the performance but who are they to make decisions over the establishment ?
To cut a long story short, the time came when the change was too much for them and the decision to dig in to the “we were always great and still are” meant cutting and sacrificing healthy profitable, progressive and very popular strategies because they didn’t feel as ‘in control’ ….
The rush back was entrenched with reinforcing the old ways and even adding new people to the old system.. a sort of over reaction and fortifying the walls of the castle they felt had been stormed.. The profits would suffer but that’s a sacrifice they were prepared to make to have a semblance of ‘safety’ in the artificial bubble of “we were never not great” even tho the world had changed around them.
I distinctly remember a lunch with the production company who now make Sherlock and many other hit series.. people I’ve known for quite a few years.. and the question was asked about broadcast distribution.. At the time ( this was way way before delivery over the net ) I suggested that the broadcasters would no longer be the gatekeepers because the day would come when branded ‘channels’; online could be the distributors of content and even grow to be powerful enough to full fund original production…and so independent producers like them could have much more leverage
My lunch companion and boss said “it will never happen”… He later went on to run the UK’s Independent TV companies ITV..which went into serious decline as ad revenue diversified to the net.. and I bet he has a Netflix account now – the people who are independently funding major drama production 😉
In a similar way when I worked for Novo Group and wrote a paper on the digital delivery of material to cinemas and homes that would ultimately bring down their shipping and freight business if they didn’t diversify… the American CEO said “never in my lifetime”. Well I hope he hasn’t died but I bet hes watched a lot of digitally delivered context… In his case he was threatened by this and took the group deeper into managing physical assets when his main clients were going digital.. I left because of this, the company bombed and got bought.. BUT he like the studio people were prepared to risk that because they didn’t want to perceive they were out of touch with a changing world…
So the long and short is that people welcome change and want newness.. until things change and get too new.. then they often react by trashing it as fast as possible and diving deep into the old ways to be “great again” in ways that used to work…but sadly are now so disconnected as to be a plan that has the kiss of death, albeit welcome warmly on an emotional level as a comfort and safety blanket by those who can’t deal with the reality of change because if forces them to face things that are unpalatable or scary…
Who knows… you may be able to draw a parallel with some things happening now.. 😉Share on Facebook