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Change My Company!!! (but don't change me)

by Doug Davidoff | Aug 17, 2009 3:48:36 AM

Imagine Business Development operates on the front lines of change.  Everyday, we work with small and mid-sized businesses that are embarking on a journey of transformation.  They're looking to accelerate growth, raise profits, and move away from the traditional demand fulfillment business world to becoming a Demand Creator.  Despite the challenges, I love the work, and it is the mission that aligns everyone at my company.  We wake up knowing that we will confront issues that we've never seen before, and that we will guide organizations to a new, bigger, better and brighter future.

transformationChange, as we all know, is difficult.  Every time someone shares with me their goals, I always tell them:  "It's not a question of what do you want; it's a question of what are you willing to do and not do to get it."  I share with them my favorite quote of all-time, from Joe Louis:  "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die."  While the act of change is among the most difficult things anyone (or organization) will ever do, the idea of change is quite enticing.  I hear it all the time.  "We're creating a "Blue Ocean" offering," or "We're going LEAN," or "We're going to transform the industry."  I love hearing those things, but I always wonder if the people who are making these bold statements really understand what they mean - and most often they don't.  Simply saying your a Blue Ocean does not make you one - and the actual act of building one will require you to change everything about your organization - even you.

I was talking about this with a friend and fellow blogger, Bob Corlett, when he was sharing with me the story of a company he had met with that felt they were poised to double in the next one to two years.  The only problem was that the company had been around for 27 years and had never experienced growth like that at all, nor did they have a clear plan in place to achieve it. Just yesterday I was talking with an extremely bright CEO of a mid-size business who has plans to introduce a highly disruptive offering and quintupling the size of his company in less than three years.  He's aware of several challenges, but I fear that he is drastically underestimating how much he will need to change to make the journey successful.

A common goal of my clients is to double (or more) their revenue over the next three to five years, so I'm quite familiar with the challenges associated with this type of growth (this is the reason the name of the blog is The Fast Growth Blog).  I've written many times about how the key to fast growth is becoming comfortable with being wrong.  Success in business (or anything for that matter) is not about being right - it's about being progressively less wrong; faster than your competition.

Most senior executives, however, think their job is to be right.  They place their self worth on "being right," or "being the one that knows the most."  The challenge with this thinking is that you can only be "right" about things that happened in the past.  When the concern is about "being right," the focus becomes the status quo the very change you are championing gets poisened.  It's difficult letting go of what you know in exchange for grabbing what you don't.  It's down right scary.  The option, however, is far worse.

So bring on the big goals.  Disrupt and transform your industry - it needs it.  And remember, the first step to getting the future that you want for yourself and your business is to be the manifest of the very change you seek.