When I asked: “What would be the consequences of the status quo?”, my client, the president of a financial institution, replied: “I think the consequences would be catastrophic for the organization within four years.”
When the members of his management committee heard that, they sat up in their chairs. The sense of urgency had just gone up a notch. We had just created one of the first conditions for starting a transformation.
If there’s one place where the sense of urgency should be grasped, felt and shared, it’s the management committee. Despite all the intelligence, expertise and experience of the committee members, however, they may not see or anticipate and indeed may underestimate the threats hanging over the organization.
Talk to the Blockbuster executives who did not see Netflix coming; to those in the music industry who are facing the dematerialization of media; to the people at Blackberry and Nokia who underestimated the impact of the arrival of the iPhone; to those at Kodak who have not made the digital shift; to General Motors and Chrysler executives who were saved from bankruptcy by the U.S. government; or to retail companies like Sears, hard hit by the emergence of e-commerce.
The starting point for any significant change is the realization that the status quo is not an option and that change is imperative.
The sense of urgency starts at the top, but then it needs to be shared. How many times have I heard senior executives say that they don’t feel their employees have grasped the importance of moving forward and acting quickly?
Even if there is nothing catastrophic on the horizon, it is still essential for managers to develop a strategy for selling the need for change and thus mobilizing their teams and the entire company. How? Here are a few solutions:
Where is your organization at in terms of that sense of urgency and the realization that the status quo is not an option?
Cofounder, Vice President and Strategic Consultant