Change: What Now, What Next?.

By Chris Tandridge

I read with interest the following points in some recent articles: PC shipments fell in another 10.7% in third quarter of 2011; according to Morgan Stanley, by next year there will be more smartphones sold worldwide than desktop and notebook PCs combined

For years we have heard the mantra that change is inevitable. I myself have been presenting similar themed messages to groups and seminars since the 90’s. Originally it was intended to get people used to the idea of change. Now that is no longer necessary. They get the fact that change is here and here to stay. They may not like it, and many don’t. Some are exhausted by it, and trudge along waiting and wondering what will hit them next. Others look expectantly and hopefully for the next change; the next feed of excitement and potentially opportunity. It is now a matter of encouraging thought in regard to responding to change. And not just thought, but action.

These two points above demand that a number of organisations respond to change. Their success or failure depends upon their interpretation of these changes and the potential responses that they can engineer. If sales of PC’s and Notebooks continue to decline, then what happens to a software supplier such as Microsoft, as well as all the hardware manufacturers and support systems?

I grew up in an age when Kodak was a major international brand. I recall advertisements that referred to “capturing a Kodak moment”. We regularly purchased Kodak film, and yes even went to the local chemist shop in those days to collect our prints. All this is a memory now as this global brand evaporates before our eyes. Instead we use our phones or digital cameras and the multitude of options we now have – do we print them ourselves, send them to friends by cloud, upload them to Facebook, Flickr, Snapfish? … and the list goes on.

I vividly remember carbon paper. I also had to convince my children a few years ago that this was not a ‘Dad’ joke, and no I wasn’t making it up. My generation knows that carbon paper was a real business tool. When we sent a message, it was in hand writing, and if we wanted more than one recipient we would use carbon paper, staining our fingers in the process. Now of course, we type a message, press ‘Send’ and the entire east coast of the country receives your message – whether they want it or not.

As was the Telex machine. I recall when my then excited Managing Director arrived in the office one day with a wonderful new tool – a fax machine. Trouble was, we didn’t know anyone else who had one yet. Now I don’t know anyone who still uses one.

The entry of Microsoft into the mobile phone market is a new exciting direction and marks the commencement of change as they recognise and respond to change. In the past few years, NOKIA owned the mobile phone market. Does anyone believe that they still dominate in that market?

In the world of media, traditional forms are trying to respond. We continue to see businesses that have been traditional paper-based media empires, struggling to adapt to a growing digital world. Some have been successful to a degree, and others have left their run too late. Even so, amongst the members of that new world, are members who are under threat themselves as the market changes again. SEEK, who vigorously took market from newspapers a few years back, is now itself under threat from LinkedIn as almost 10 % of its market is eroded in one quarter. Yellow Pages, resisting the move for far too long, is now playing catch up in a market where once it dominated.

A visit to any Apple store is easy enough – peruse the products on display. How many are desktop PC’s? What is the mix of notebooks, to iPads or mobile phones? Why is it that mobility is the key word in so many global businesses with whom we work? Often these businesses are using traditional sales approaches and sales structures and associated costs in a world that has moved on. They are selling out of step with how people are buying.

So, if it is increasingly difficult to gain a position with technology, and unless companies have sufficient funds to buy everyone that pops up to compete and hence control the market, then the real point of difference for business remains its people. It is also apparent that in many organisations, from the very large to the very small, the people element is often misunderstood and under-appreciated. Not only that, but the real costing of people is often overlooked.

From the selection of staff, to developing the management and leadership of those staff. From the initial selection to the onboarding and the ongoing training, to being able to calculate an ROI on that training. From calculating loss and cost to the business on the departure of the high potentials. From estimating the loss of those members of staff who have, trapped between their ears, valuable “how to” knowledge that escapes through the company’s front door as people leave – not just for the day but for the next career opportunity.

In a number of my interactions with organisations, it is apparent that they have not calculated the true cost of talent to a business. They have failed to realise that throwing money at someone is not going to make them stay with a company and form a long term career. They have failed to understand that “throwing” money at training will not, in many cases, solve the transfer and behaviour change problems. In the case of one organisation, its internal training solution has grown to a team of 120 people developing and delivering training to a sales organisation of F2F reps that has a 40% turnover.

It is into this market, where costs must come under increasing scrutiny, where companies will be forced to review their people management and leadership, that I suspect companies such as ours play a major role. Outsourcing in IT has been a long-term practice and a successful one. I maintain that we can emulate that, and apply some of those learnings to our own clients with solutions that are not fixed costs and can be variable as needs shift and change.

The interest and focus of our company remains business coaching. We have the systems, the reputation, the people, the connections, and the tools. We can and do make a measurable difference. In fact if we can’t measure it, we won’t do it.

As change continues at an increasing pace around us, I wonder what major and highly recognisable brands, with which we are familiar today, will be part of our future? And which of them will we look at with fond memories as it has faded and lost its dominant position to become a memory. A Dad’s joke.

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