Transformation - 10.30.2018

Disruption Survival Guide

Disruption is here to stay. Just a few years ago nobody would have suggested you hop in a random car with a stranger. Nobody wanted to trust making payments online. Who would ever buy groceries online, or order clothes without ever trying them on? And (near and dear to my heart) consumers of news and information going to anyone other than a legitimate, credible news organization… no way?

Tony Hunter Author: Tony Hunter

Each of these examples illustrate how a company or industry that appears to be competitively advantaged, humming along, making loads of money, and then bam! They’re fighting for their life.

Can you imagine the discussions that were taking place in these companies and industries?

These companies obviously knew what was coming, nobody was surprised.

But they weren’t prepared. They weren’t organizationally ready. They didn’t anticipate the level of impact, and/or take aggressive action.

The moral of these stories is that those who embrace the opportunities afforded by disruption, and react aggressively to reinvent and transform, will succeed. For those that assume “this too shall pass,” you’re in for trouble.Because, in the end, you choose whether you’re going to be the disruptor or the disrupted.

Transformation: capitalizing on the opportunities afforded by disruption.

Companies that view transformation through the lens in the definition above are well positioned to succeed in disruptive times. These companies embrace change, are prepared for disruption, identify emerging trends, and as a result, capitalize on opportunities afforded by disruption.

For those that believe a missive from the C-Suite is the easy way to accomplish this, I’m afraid you’re mistaken.

Real transformation takes time, energy, and commitment from the entire leadership team. Companies need to dedicate themselves to creating, and driving transformation.

Throughout the course of my career, transformation has been a pinnacle of my success. I have been able to lead, manage, learn and grow through transformation. I believe that focusing on the following six keys will allow any company to make a healthy transformation and thrive in disruptive times.Assemble a diverse, passionate leadership team

In order to do this, it may mean significant changes in your senior team. Focus on cross-functional experience and diversity of thought. Search for executives that are true leaders, not just technical experts, and are willing to lead by example.

Once you have the right team in place, make the best use of them by incorporating their knowledge, insights, and concerns into the process. Every member of your company’s senior leadership team needs to be engaged in the transformation effort to succeed.Define the right culture

At the Tribune, we defined the culture we wanted because we knew our bureaucratic, hierarchical, risk-averse, slow-moving culture was not appropriate for the task ahead. The culture we worked hard to create involved a few key characteristics:

  • Speed and agility
  • Decisiveness and collaboration
  • Transparency and alignment across the company
  • Reward-seeking and competitive mindset

These changes created a company where everyone could participate in the transformation, and do their best work. It also “energized” the team.Simplify the plan

First things first: explain the need for change. Take your existing plan and develop an easy to understand, concise, and comprehensive strategic plan. Simplicity is key. Then share the plan broadly to every employee in the company. Starting with a simplified plan allows everyone to understand, and embrace the “winning formula.”Transform the business model

This is where the most change happens within your organization.

Transforming your business can take the form of several strategies: diversifying your revenue streams, consolidating marketplaces, identifying unique competitive advantages, forming strategic partnerships, right-sizing your cost structure, and/or investing in new products or services.

Wrap your head around reinventing your organization. That’s the only way to truly transform.Engage employees

You can’t win without engaged employees.

Hold town halls with all employees. Open up lines of communication at all levels. Share results; wins and losses. Ensure your company goals cascade to every employee, in every department. Set the expectation that everyone needs to make a meaningful contribution, measure the level of employee engagement and provide “risk free” feedback channels.Force discussions on competing alternatives

This is the final key to driving change and innovation. Never accept the first solution, no matter how good it is. Push beyond incremental actions, small changes, and the status quo. Set the expectation, and environment of “never being satisfied.”

This continuous-improvement mindset is the foundation to launch innovation efforts and game changing initiatives.

Companies that aggressively transform their business model successfully navigate disruption.

Playing offense by employing these six steps can keep you relevant, and sustainable, despite unpredictable headwinds and disruptive marketplaces.