I’m very proud to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100 of the U.S. Chamber. At our last meeting, they brought in Jason Jennings, who according to USA Today is one the three most in-demand business speakers in the world. His presentation was about his new book The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change. Even though the book is about businesses re-inventing themselves, all of us in the chamber/association world would be wise to not only read the book but incorporate his message to business with our organizations.
Let me give you some examples from his book that we can all relate to:
Lessons from the Fortune 500 List
The only chance any of us have to prosperity is to constantly re-imagine, rethink, and reinvent everything we do and how we do it in order to remain relevant. We must all become re-inventors, and we’d better do it quickly. Compare the top 25 companies in the Fortune 500 from 2000 to those in 2010. Sixteen of the top 25 fell off the list. That’s two thirds in ten years! Since the Fortune 500 list was first published in 1955, more than 90 percent are gone. All these companies failed to constantly evolve, change, grow, and reinvent themselves, and eventually they were kicked to the curb. Only one company has stayed on the list. Who was it? DuPont.
Today, a combination of stagnant Western markets, former third world nations embracing technology and becoming manufacturing powerhouses with middle classes larger than that of the U.S., technology that makes everything increasingly transparent, and customers who believe that they can get exactly what they want when they want it at a price they’re willing to pay, all add up to a game-changing business environment.
Jennings asked the following two questions to over 800 CEO’s:
1. What are the stumbling blocks or challenges that could get in the way of your business achieving its full economic potential?
2. What’s keeping you up at night about your business?
Both questions sound like two good questions for us to ask our members!
The 2010 IBM Global CEO Study
The 2010 IBM Global CEO Study showed that 67 percent of worldwide CEO’s think their current business model is only sustainable for another three years. While another 31 percent believe their current model might have as long as five years. Between Jennings’ survey and IBM’s, it appears that 98 percent of global CEO’s believe their current business model is unsustainable.
Reinvention is about moving your business from point A to point B. But Jason discovered that in this process, the businesses that sought to reinvent themselves developed new skill sets and values that allowed them to quickly progress to points C, D, E, and beyond.
The Role of Culture
Culture is defined as the shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices of an organization. It’s either led by the CEO or by default. Before you can implement radical change, you have to let go of the things that will destine your attempts for failure and make letting go a vital part of you’re culture. (e.g. Blockbuster (Netflix/Redbox); Sony (Walk-Man))
If it ain’t broke, sometimes you’ve got to break it! If you don’t, by the time you figure out it’s broke, it’s been broke a very long time.
Good questions to ask:
- Why do we do it this way?
- Isn’t there a better way to go about doing this?
The main job of a leader is to be a destination expert, to let everybody know where the company is going and make certain that everyone understands and is willing to embrace change in order to get there.
The successful don’t start with brilliant ideas, they discover them.
How do we make sure that each member of our team knows that every piece of innovation or reinvention counts no matter how small it is? Everyone has to contribute regardless of their position in the company if we are going to remain competitive in the marketplace and expand in the long-term.
People are NOT your most important asset! The right people are.