Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Reexamining business school fundamentals (reconsidered) 14: change management in a rapidly changing context

Posted in reexamining the fundamentals by Timothy Platt on March 25, 2017

This is my 14th installment to a series of brief, single issue sketches in which I reconsider each of a set of core issues that I first addressed in this format in a 2010 series. See Section II of my directory: Reexamining the Fundamentals for that earlier related series, and in particular see my earlier same-name counterpart posting to this one as included there: Reexamining Business School Fundamentals – change management in a rapidly changing context.

I began that earlier posting with a brief orienting comment, that has if anything become more valid and more pressingly important today as write this:

• “In a fundamental sense, the entire series I have been assembling here on reexamining the fundamentals has been about change, and a complex of changes that are already beginning to make themselves felt, and for employees and those in job search and for businesses, for suppliers and customers and for those who focus on legal systems and for all frameworks that businesses operate in and across entire marketplaces. But this posting is going to focus on a very specific type of change – change mandated not by choice or according to pre-planned and more convenient schedules but change that is thrust upon a business.”

This vintage-2017 series is all about change too, and it is about the emergence of new sources of friction and the emergence of new sources of barriers and resistance that we all face and in our work lives and careers and in our businesses, and in our societies as a whole.

I wrote my 2010 counterpart to this posting, in terms of business competitiveness in an increasingly interconnected world where participation in supply chain and other business-to-business collaborations can create new forms of competitive capability and strength. And I wrote of how businesses that seek to go it alone can become competitively disadvantaged from that, and particularly where this would mean their drawing essential resources and real opportunity for flexibility and growth, out of their core areas as are most explicitly required for their business model and its effective execution.

I also freely admit, looking back at that earlier posting, that I cited Apple, Inc. in 2010 as an example of how a business can lose opportunity from taking too much of an in-house only approach, from a loss of focus on what should be its core essentials. My discussion there centered entirely on their business and its business model from before they made their interactive online and social media marketing shift, with their coming to focus on ubiquitously online-connectible hand-held devices such as tablets and smart phones, and now smart watches and more. I readily acknowledge that Apple has in fact come to thrive from pursuing what is still largely a more monolithic model. And I add in this context that I have delved into that story and on their change in fortune and how that happened – and into both Apple’s first attempt at this basic business model in an early desktop computer world and its newer success with it in: Rethinking Vertical Integration for the 21st Century Context (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, posts 577 and loosely following for that series.) I recommend you’re at least briefly reviewing that because the underlying reason for their change in fortune, in a very fundamental sense depended on precisely the type of globally reaching opening up and flattening that I focused on in 2010 and that is now under direct challenge. Apple succeeded the second time because they opened themselves up to a larger and even global community of potential buyers, through an interactive online and social media context that this global flattening enabled, and with all of the power of gorilla marketing and viral marketing that this made possible.

Will an increase in the severity and prevalence of the barriers that I have been discussing throughout this 2017 series, stop Apple and its success or even of necessity slow them down? No – Apple has developed a level and type of momentum in name recognition and cachet and enough of a reach in both, so it will not be able to blame outside forces of the types that I address here if they begin losing market share and their competitive edge. But Apple, Inc. did benefit and significantly from that opening up in making its current success possible.

• In a real sense I am not writing here about Apple, Inc. as a single business success story. I am writing about a change in the overall business and marketplace climate, and in our ability to connect and communicate globally – and in ways that could help create a next Apple success story.
• And I am writing about the possibility of greater resistance and challenge for a next potential Apple, as it faces greater resistance and friction in building that globally reaching level and type of brand recognition and loyalty that made Apple itself into its current success story. And in this, any lost opportunities and unrealized dreams will remain unknown because of their never having effectively launched out on that same type of success trajectory.
• And open and freely connected and communicating global community, to cite one element in support of that concern, can more readily turn what would more locally be just a niche market opportunity and even a small one into a much larger source of more geographically distributed opportunity
• And into a better, stronger foundation point for growing a business from.

And this brings me to the change management of this posting’s title:

• If effective change management means developing and implementing new and even disruptively new approaches and ways to break out of a rut, and to return a business to greater levels of overall business strength and competitiveness,
• And one if the biggest challenges that a would-be globally online connected business faces in its striving for success, can now be found in the increased friction and resistance to open connectedness of the type under discussion in this series,
• Then one of the core targets of action that change management should focus on, and for many businesses that find themselves in need of it, has to be in finding ways to create more effective and more wide ranging connectivity for their marketing and sales again, and across the now-dividing communities that we see around us – and in spite of the emergence of those new barriers,
• And if possible, by tapping into the forces that hold the most potential for creating those barriers, to create new disruptively innovative opportunity from them. (That is going to sound like a real reach for most readers but that is why this would call for disruptive innovation. And the first step in achieving anything like that, is in acknowledging that it might be possible and in going from there to map out its where and how.)

I am going to turn in my next series installment to address the set of issues that I looked into in 2010, in its posting: Reexamining Business School Fundamentals and Emerging 21st Century Realities. I initially offered that as a concluding installment but will add one more, 16th installment to this series to fully conclude this second look into this progression of issues and topics. Meanwhile, you can find this and other related postings and series at Reexamining the Fundamentals, with this series offered as a new Section VII in that directory.

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