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Finding opportunities to change

Roger La Salle
November 13, 2013

Business are being challenged today like never before. The advent of IT and rapid communications has led to contract negotiations and time-to-market plummeting from months or years in days gone by to a matter of weeks in today’s world.

The need to do something different and better has never been so strong. But how do we shift the culture of people and managers that have for years been toeing the company line and meeting all their KPIs for (perhaps too many) years?

If a manager is doing the job and enjoying the spoils and trapping of managerial success then what is the incentive that drives one to ‘rock the boat’? What is the driver that will change behaviour and have people do something different, perhaps to innovate or to actively search the horizon for new opportunities?

Unfortunately, and quite understandably, the incentive to take risks and engender change is virtually non-existent.

Survival in business requires change to drive managers to embrace innovation and new opportunities, but why would you do that if life is good and we are not forced to change? It’s easier to maintain the status quo and keep doing what we have always been comfortable in doing.

Embarking on change means taking on more work, and most of all risk, perhaps even career risk. Consequently, to change course, especially in large businesses, is a bit like trying to turn around the Titanic.

In Singapore, one enlightened CEO of a very large company put a mandate and KPI on all department heads that for each successive year, 10% of their revenue would come from new innovated products or new opportunities. Management salaries and bonuses were tightly tied to this mandate and to fail to achieve this was more of a career risk than attempting change but failing in the endeavour. The success of this approach was outstanding.

The bottom line here is to recognise this catch in most businesses, especially large ones and to find ways to drive the change initiative. A failure to do so may lead to an outcome far worse than the risk of trying.

Roger La Salle
Roger La Salle is the creator of the Matrix Thinking technique. He specialises in innovation, opportunity and business development, and speaks at international events on those topics. He is the author of four books, director and former CEO of the Innovation Centre of Victoria (INNOVIC) as well as a number of companies both in Australian and overseas.
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