Destroying your business before it destroys you

Change is inevitable, your profits and success this year, will not guarantee similar or better performances in the next. Businesses are not always able to be disruptors, or even early adopters but where they struggle is when they are playing catch-up or are simply left behind. An exercise in ‘destroying your business’ could help you stay ahead of the change curve. Constructively destroying your own business allows you to remove constraints holding your business back offering you a path to grow stronger. It’s time to do destroy your own business, before it destroys you! In this blog, I take a look at the exercise of “destroying a business” and what it takes to act on the intel gathered from it.

The exercise ‘destroy your business’ created by Jack Welch, allows you to stay on top market trends and potential threats that face your organization.

To start, invite all members of staff from your organization to a meeting and present the question ‘What would you do to put us out of business today?’. Split your staff into two teams, one defending the current business model and how you can explore opportunities, and one attacking it, looking at potential and existing threats. The information gathered from each team will be transcribed and discussed afterwards with everyone. With the focus being aimed at your organization specifically, employees are able to use their insider knowledge of the business to help find deep routed issues and sector specific opportunities. This is more efficient than allocating resources and focusing on competitors when you have less of an insight and impact into what they do.

New businesses are being established more than ever, and they are ready to take your spot by disrupting the market. Complacency is the silent killer, and their new ideas can be the nail in the coffin. It can be difficult for business owners to let go of traditions that have been part of their success.

Look at Uber, their ease of use and cheap prices were an immediate attraction to consumers and a strong threat to existing taxi companies. These factors, along with the lack of adaptation from ‘competitors’ resulted in Uber taking over. Uber’s plans were in place since 2009, they recognized the opportunities and took them in their stride. In 2009, black cabs would have felt they were untouchable, but now they are on the back foot.

Recognizing the change you need to make is important, but knowing how to implement it is just as crucial. To make room for the new by developing on the old, these questions could be asked:

  • If you could make anything in your business better, cheaper or faster, what would that be?
  • What would it take to do that?
  • What methods and processes would need to change?
  • What is my first step?

These questions can then shape the communication and training required for staff and customers. It should also inform what the benefits of this change would be and how these can be reviewed on an ongoing basis – ensuring your business continues on a path of growth rather than destruction.

Communication - A change project’s success is at risk when executives and those implementing change do not communicate. The bare minimum of communications need to consider:

  • The case for change – what will happen if we don’t do this?
  • The implications of change?
  • What will this mean for employees, customers and stakeholders?
  • How will the change be delivered – in what stages, how will each affected party be involved in the process?

Training – New business models and new ways of doing things comes with the expectations of capability. They will be unfamiliar to employees and new training will be needed. Successful training can help align values, behaviors and skills that are required to accept and implement the intended change.

Regular reviewing – Executives perceive longer change projects as more risky than short projects. Studies from Harvard Business Review show that projects which are longer and reviewed often, are far more likely to succeed than a short project that isn’t reviewed by those backing and implementing the change.

This reinforces the benefits of Agile Working, the methodology we employ at AAB Consulting. Regular sprint planning, reviews and check-ins helps all of the team stay on top of projects ensuring we are working on the right things, what we are doing is being implemented in a timely manner and what is being produced is fit for purpose.

I’ll maybe need to be careful though when I add an item to our joint team backlog ‘Destroy the business session’!

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