There’s plenty of management-speak out there about how business leaders need to embrace change.
How business, and commerce in general, has its foundations on shifting sands. The only way to ride the wave is to accept and relish the concept of change within your company.
However, the truth is very different. Most company managers that I know are more about creating and maintaining a consistent and stable workplace for employees, in order to create an air of security and reassurance and help keep staff morale high.
The problem with building all of this structure is that it prevents you acting – or reacting – when an external force is applied. Take the music industry as an example. For decades, music companies held control as to how and what music was consumed, and record stores controlled distribution. When the internet threatened to upset that control, their immediate reaction was to fight it. To keep things as they are.
Guess what? They lost.
Today, anyone can release a piece of music – or any other piece of intellectual property – and get it in front of a big-enough audience to generate attention. The biggest seller of music in the USA today is a company that, less than a decade ago, sold computers.
Not only is change inevitable, but resisting change is often suicidal. The benefits of a stable workplace are useless if the price paid is complacency. Just ask Woolworths, or Lehman Brothers, or BlockBuster.
Yet most companies foster an internal culture that actively discourages or prevents change. New ideas, if they are seen to break the status-quo, are dismissed. Managers need to be able to break through the levels of bureaucracy that seek to obscure or kill them. The reason why most ideas never make prime time is that there’s too much organization in the organization.
There’s an old joke from Robert C. Gallagher: “Change is inevitable. Unless it’s from a vending machine.”