The Inconvenience of Change: Business Edition [Ryan Stephens]

Changing the face of businessWhat if railroad companies thought of themselves as transportation companies instead of just people who built tracks? What if the music industry embraced file sharing? What if the newspaper industry embraced new media from the onset?

Is Exxon Mobil an oil company or an energy company?

Change is inconvenient. Not only in our own lives, but in business (and marketing) as well.

We would rather watch others take the plunge off the high dive, while we dip out toes in the baby pool. Great strategy if you want to become irrelevant. Sure you might not drown, but by the time you learn how to swim it will be too late anyway.

THE CHANGE MINDSET

The very anatomy of change is determined not by ones surroundings, but one’s inherent mindset. While sometimes our brain finds it hard to mentally morph and glide with change, it is inevitably happening around us, even if we’re not conscious of it. I believe that change, is for us to use to move forward.”Grace Boyle

Changing requires first thinking about typical constructs in an atypical way.

During your brainstorming meetings, how often do you find yourself thumbing through case studies and citing companies that have done ‘this and that’ successfully using a certain set of tools? You can use Twitter the way Zappos did, or you can create a Facebook page like Ernst and Young’s but you better be prepared to do it better. Otherwise you’re just copying.

Start mixing and matching. Think about ways to use the tools in unconventional ways? I bet your company doesn’t have the rocks to make cologne that smells like a burger.

WANTING TO CHANGE ISN’T ENOUGH

“Behavior depends on two things: intention and ability… our intention to change is the biggest predictor of change.”Eva Rykr

Anita Lobo explains that there are 5 precursors to change and that recognizing these meta patterns helps deal with the onset of change. They’re intuitive and they could certainly trigger intention.

The trick then becomes determining whether your (or your companies) desire to change is founded on mechanics that make sense, that are worthwhile, positive and certainly sustainable.

As Carlos explains, overcoming human pride and resisting the urge to push change in favor of making it fit into people’s minds, lives, opinions, et al. is where change stops becoming a task and starts becoming a choice. One people want to take.

“You know, I was thinking, we should have a better digital presence so that our clients can really see that we’re capable of activating ourselves in this space.”

That’s great, but what has it accomplished?

“I’m confident that taking a more proactive approach in the digital space will not only prove to our clients that we’re thought leaders in this niche, but illustrate our value and USP, which will invariably generate strong leads that we won’t have to hard sell. Here , let me show you the strategy I’ve been working on. Maybe you can help me refine it, determine key points of emphasis for execution.”

Now, at least they’re listening.

CHANGE STARTS SMALL

“One person can not and will not ever do everything, but one person can do something, one person can do a lot, one person can set a spark that stares a wildfire of change throughout their community.”Matt Cheuvront

You don’t run 20 miles on your first day training for a marathon.

Once you’ve established the change mindset, and established a strategic approach to changing for the right reasons then you start, gradually.

All it takes is one person to provide the circumstance to let it happen, one person to lead by example. One voice. One ear to listen. One act to change.

You won’t dismantle your current corporate infrastructure overnight. You won’t transform your company to a ROWE with a well written manifesto. But you MIGHT get to help lead a small team to champion customer service and social influence marketing with your brand’s evangelists. You MIGHT get to work from home on Fridays.

Sam Davidson and Stephen Moseley’s New Day Revolution shows you how small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference.

CHANGE = UNCERTAINTY = FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN

Help your organization stay ahead of the curve, to continue innovating by venturing out and enduring this painstaking process. When you emerge out the other side of the tunnel with something to show for it, grab the flashlight and go back can grab your co-workers. Start with the one who has trudged ahead; guide them through remaining rough patches. Then there are two of you to go back and get others.

The more people willing to endure the initial fear, the more likely your company will still be relevant 5, 10, 15 years from now.

But someone has to lead. Are you ready? Is that you?

Ryan StephensRyan Stephens is the mastermind behind Ryan Stephens Marketing, a strategic consulting and professional development entity that specializes in relationship marketing for the business owner. Ryan’s focus is on providing results to his clients through the building of intimate business relationships. His blog offers insight and wisdom into the world of social media and Web 2.0 marketing, and Ryan is at the top of his game when it comes to connecting with his audience. Ryan runs a bi-monthly survey of the best Gen-Y blogs voted on by the readers, of which Life Without Pants was voted #1 for the month of June (an outstanding an unexpected honor). Swing by his blog and give him a shout on Twitter today – you’ll be glad you did!


28 Responses
  • Emily Reply

    It’s like I hear everyday…just because it’s considered a best practice, and everyone is doing it, does that really mean that it’s the best? Isn’t it just the norm?

    Your point about copying other companies is great. What works for someone might not work for you. Sure, learn from the lessons of successes and failures in the world, but really being able to drive change is about knowing your company. If the company is afraid of change, well you can’t do something drastic overnight. If it thrives on change, is there a more efficient way to make change seamless for further success?

    Good post, I know I’ll keep it in my back pocket for my own brainstorming sessions!

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      @Emily – That’s a great point. I think too many people get caught up in “best practices.” The person who benefits? The person who created the best practices because essentially everyone else is falling in line, which isn’t to say there aren’t some relatively universal best practices we should all abide by.

      Also, I agree that you really need to know your company in order to drive change. I think you also have to understand your role in that company, which sometimes points back to change starts small and you have to win over one person, then another until you create a tipping point of people willing to go to battle with you.

      Thanks for contributing to the discussion!

  • Emily Reply

    It’s like I hear everyday…just because it’s considered a best practice, and everyone is doing it, does that really mean that it’s the best? Isn’t it just the norm?

    Your point about copying other companies is great. What works for someone might not work for you. Sure, learn from the lessons of successes and failures in the world, but really being able to drive change is about knowing your company. If the company is afraid of change, well you can’t do something drastic overnight. If it thrives on change, is there a more efficient way to make change seamless for further success?

    Good post, I know I’ll keep it in my back pocket for my own brainstorming sessions!

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      @Emily – That’s a great point. I think too many people get caught up in “best practices.” The person who benefits? The person who created the best practices because essentially everyone else is falling in line, which isn’t to say there aren’t some relatively universal best practices we should all abide by.

      Also, I agree that you really need to know your company in order to drive change. I think you also have to understand your role in that company, which sometimes points back to change starts small and you have to win over one person, then another until you create a tipping point of people willing to go to battle with you.

      Thanks for contributing to the discussion!

  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    When I started studying Marketing, one of the firsst concepts that we learned, and that has sticked with me the most, is the idea of (and forgive me if the translation doesn’t make sense) “Marketing nearsightedness”.

    What this means, is that sometimes a succesful company gets too focused on it’s product instead of the necessity or desire it satisfies. Transportation companies, energy companies, communication companies are all great examples of this. What if we came up with teletransportation, engines that work with water and telepathic communication? There would be no train, oil or phone that could compete against those breakthroughs.

    So, we have to understand that change is constant, specially when it comes to business and human desire. Like you say, a company has to stay ahead of the curve, understand what they actually provide and always remember that NO company lasts forever, UNLESS they accept “product defeat”.

    Great post Ryan, I’m glad you could pitch in your own perspective on change!

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      That’s exactly the point I was trying to convey with the beginning of this piece. I read a post today where a very smart person was discussing that she dislikes Google is in perpetual beta, but I love it. I think it makes sense. All business should be in perpetual beta, continuing to innovate and stay at the front of their respective curves. The first time you decide to get complacent is the first time the competition catches up and passes you.

      I know my friends that work in the oil industry assure me that they think of themselves as energy companies first and oil is merely what they’re profiting off of right now.

      And I’m very grateful Matt let me use his blog as a platform to contribute to this discussion. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts through out the entirety of this series.

  • Carlos Miceli Reply

    When I started studying Marketing, one of the firsst concepts that we learned, and that has sticked with me the most, is the idea of (and forgive me if the translation doesn’t make sense) “Marketing nearsightedness”.

    What this means, is that sometimes a succesful company gets too focused on it’s product instead of the necessity or desire it satisfies. Transportation companies, energy companies, communication companies are all great examples of this. What if we came up with teletransportation, engines that work with water and telepathic communication? There would be no train, oil or phone that could compete against those breakthroughs.

    So, we have to understand that change is constant, specially when it comes to business and human desire. Like you say, a company has to stay ahead of the curve, understand what they actually provide and always remember that NO company lasts forever, UNLESS they accept “product defeat”.

    Great post Ryan, I’m glad you could pitch in your own perspective on change!

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      That’s exactly the point I was trying to convey with the beginning of this piece. I read a post today where a very smart person was discussing that she dislikes Google is in perpetual beta, but I love it. I think it makes sense. All business should be in perpetual beta, continuing to innovate and stay at the front of their respective curves. The first time you decide to get complacent is the first time the competition catches up and passes you.

      I know my friends that work in the oil industry assure me that they think of themselves as energy companies first and oil is merely what they’re profiting off of right now.

      And I’m very grateful Matt let me use his blog as a platform to contribute to this discussion. I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts through out the entirety of this series.

  • DrJohnDrozdal Reply

    I have found that a good way to address the “fear of the unknown” connected with change is to reframe what fear really is: False Evidence Appearing Real.

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      @John – I think 9 times out of 10 you’re probably right. I think that probably simplifies it a bit too much for my tastes, but definitely think it’s applicable reality -most- of the time.

      I think most times it’s about evaluating (sometimes very quickly) all the different scenarios that can play out and then determining what the best course of action is. If change equates to throwing a tantrum to show how ‘brazen’ you are in the office you have to look at both the best case & worst case scenarios, but also the spectrum in between and determine if it’s the right course of action. Is it worth the risk of being fired outright for the slim chance you might get a little more respect? Just depends I guess on all the external factors at play.

      • Matt Reply

        I see where John is coming from as it relates to fear. Usually our fear is based on beliefs that we create. ‘I can’t do this or I can’t do that’. When in reality, we CAN do essentially anything that we put our mind to. We (both individually and collectively) form these fears throughout our lives, we limit ourselves, we restrict ourselves. Yes, they’re are some outside forces in play here, but a vast majority of fear and doubt originates from within.

        The question is, how does one overcome this fear? Is it a matter of ‘just doing it’ and taking the risk?

  • DrJohnDrozdal Reply

    I have found that a good way to address the “fear of the unknown” connected with change is to reframe what fear really is: False Evidence Appearing Real.

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      @John – I think 9 times out of 10 you’re probably right. I think that probably simplifies it a bit too much for my tastes, but definitely think it’s applicable reality -most- of the time.

      I think most times it’s about evaluating (sometimes very quickly) all the different scenarios that can play out and then determining what the best course of action is. If change equates to throwing a tantrum to show how ‘brazen’ you are in the office you have to look at both the best case & worst case scenarios, but also the spectrum in between and determine if it’s the right course of action. Is it worth the risk of being fired outright for the slim chance you might get a little more respect? Just depends I guess on all the external factors at play.

      • Matt Reply

        I see where John is coming from as it relates to fear. Usually our fear is based on beliefs that we create. ‘I can’t do this or I can’t do that’. When in reality, we CAN do essentially anything that we put our mind to. We (both individually and collectively) form these fears throughout our lives, we limit ourselves, we restrict ourselves. Yes, they’re are some outside forces in play here, but a vast majority of fear and doubt originates from within.

        The question is, how does one overcome this fear? Is it a matter of ‘just doing it’ and taking the risk?

  • Stuart Foster Reply

    Be fearless. Fail. Experiment. Screw up. Without trial and error (or even trying!) you won’t be able to succeed. You just need to go out and do it…stop talking.

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      Great points said succinctly per usual Stuart. I always try to ask myself, “What’s my next action?” I think if people keep an over-arching goal they want to achieve in the back of their mind and consistently ask, what’s the next action, and then fulfill their commitments to making that action happen eventually they’ll end up where they need to be. Jonathan Mead firing his boss just one year after deciding he wanted to his a great example.

  • Stuart Foster Reply

    Be fearless. Fail. Experiment. Screw up. Without trial and error (or even trying!) you won’t be able to succeed. You just need to go out and do it…stop talking.

    • Ryan Stephens Reply

      Great points said succinctly per usual Stuart. I always try to ask myself, “What’s my next action?” I think if people keep an over-arching goal they want to achieve in the back of their mind and consistently ask, what’s the next action, and then fulfill their commitments to making that action happen eventually they’ll end up where they need to be. Jonathan Mead firing his boss just one year after deciding he wanted to his a great example.

  • Grace Reply

    Ryan, I think you’re right that the small changes within a business or marketing setting can be monumental in terms of lasting change.

    Moving forward and taking that leap can be a scary process, especially if a company has done things the same way for years. There’s so much to risk. The companies I find an affinity with and really respect, are the ones that ARE taking leaps and really risking. Although they might fail (it usually happens in one way or another) they tried and can try again. The other piece is that you can prepare for change to move forward and don’t just have to jump in head first without a plan.

    Great post, Ryan! I really like it from a business perspective, because change is pertinent to growth and especially from a professional standpoint.

  • Grace Reply

    Ryan, I think you’re right that the small changes within a business or marketing setting can be monumental in terms of lasting change.

    Moving forward and taking that leap can be a scary process, especially if a company has done things the same way for years. There’s so much to risk. The companies I find an affinity with and really respect, are the ones that ARE taking leaps and really risking. Although they might fail (it usually happens in one way or another) they tried and can try again. The other piece is that you can prepare for change to move forward and don’t just have to jump in head first without a plan.

    Great post, Ryan! I really like it from a business perspective, because change is pertinent to growth and especially from a professional standpoint.

  • Matt Reply

    In order to be supremely successful, one has to stand out from the ordinary. After all, it’s called extra-ordinary for a reason. It seems so simple, but being innovative and remaining one step ahead of the rest takes hard work and determination, and saying that is an understatement.

    One of the challenges I see for our generation as we enter into the corporate world: We are an innovative bunch, but as the old saying goes, you cant teach an old dog new tricks, at least not when the old dogs don’t WANT to learn. All companies are different, but many (especially larger corporations) aren’t welcoming in of the new business practices and ideas we bring to the table. This is part of the reason why so many of us break away and go the startup route, because when placed in a corporate environment, it doesn’t take us long to think we know how to do the job better than our superiors. It is both a blessing and a curse.

    I’m interested to hear your, and everyone elses thoughts on this. Great post Ryan – hell of a way to round out the series!

  • Matt Reply

    In order to be supremely successful, one has to stand out from the ordinary. After all, it’s called extra-ordinary for a reason. It seems so simple, but being innovative and remaining one step ahead of the rest takes hard work and determination, and saying that is an understatement.

    One of the challenges I see for our generation as we enter into the corporate world: We are an innovative bunch, but as the old saying goes, you cant teach an old dog new tricks, at least not when the old dogs don’t WANT to learn. All companies are different, but many (especially larger corporations) aren’t welcoming in of the new business practices and ideas we bring to the table. This is part of the reason why so many of us break away and go the startup route, because when placed in a corporate environment, it doesn’t take us long to think we know how to do the job better than our superiors. It is both a blessing and a curse.

    I’m interested to hear your, and everyone elses thoughts on this. Great post Ryan – hell of a way to round out the series!

  • Susan Pogorzelski Reply

    I always find it interesting how a person or company will attempt to make a significant change while others attempt to dissuade them for fear of the risks, exclaiming that something is too much of a chance. And yet, at the same time, they will eagerly watch to see if that person or company were successful, and then follow suit accordingly.

    Your quote, “We would rather watch others take the plunge off the high dive, while we dip out toes in the baby pool” reminded me of this. Whatever the stakes, change always means there’s a risk involved and you never know how the end result will turn out until you try.

    I think this might beg the question — do you wait and see how it will turn out for another company before making the change yourself? Or do you implement that change and take that risk.

    I agree that it’s important to start small and a person/company should take the time to evaluate the risk and the benefit. But I also believe that if that change has the potential for something better, that should be taken into account. What would be holding them back? Are they waiting for others to go first?

    I love how you say that someone has to lead. A great call to action. And a fantastic post, Ryan!

  • Susan Pogorzelski Reply

    I always find it interesting how a person or company will attempt to make a significant change while others attempt to dissuade them for fear of the risks, exclaiming that something is too much of a chance. And yet, at the same time, they will eagerly watch to see if that person or company were successful, and then follow suit accordingly.

    Your quote, “We would rather watch others take the plunge off the high dive, while we dip out toes in the baby pool” reminded me of this. Whatever the stakes, change always means there’s a risk involved and you never know how the end result will turn out until you try.

    I think this might beg the question — do you wait and see how it will turn out for another company before making the change yourself? Or do you implement that change and take that risk.

    I agree that it’s important to start small and a person/company should take the time to evaluate the risk and the benefit. But I also believe that if that change has the potential for something better, that should be taken into account. What would be holding them back? Are they waiting for others to go first?

    I love how you say that someone has to lead. A great call to action. And a fantastic post, Ryan!

  • Sam Reply

    Ryan, your take on change is very interesting to me, as I am the Web 2.0 expert at my company. To execute our social media marketing strategy, I spend a lot of time researching the practices of other companies and coming up with different, innovative ways for us to implement the things they do. I also use myself as a case study, trying things with my personal accounts so I know if they work before I use them for the company.

    It can be frustrating sometimes when I think we’ve done something really well, and it doesn’t pan out. But, I think in order to be successful, you have to be willing to take risks. You never know until you try. Great post!

    • Matt Reply

      I think there is a lot to be said for the collective spirit when it comes to new ideas and innovation. I can think I have the best business idea ever – then show you and you don’t get it, or think it’s lame. We NEED that feedback from one another in everything we do. While we don’t want to let others hold us back (we have to have a mind of our own), having a group of people within your business, trusted affiliates, and/or amongst your community that you take bounce ideas back and forth off of is critical. You have to be willing to take risks, but most of the time, we should make sure that they’re calculated and researched risks. Sort of ‘planned’ spontaneity.

      I may have totally oxymoron-ed the hell out of myself there, but I think you get the picture.

  • Sam Reply

    Ryan, your take on change is very interesting to me, as I am the Web 2.0 expert at my company. To execute our social media marketing strategy, I spend a lot of time researching the practices of other companies and coming up with different, innovative ways for us to implement the things they do. I also use myself as a case study, trying things with my personal accounts so I know if they work before I use them for the company.

    It can be frustrating sometimes when I think we’ve done something really well, and it doesn’t pan out. But, I think in order to be successful, you have to be willing to take risks. You never know until you try. Great post!

    • Matt Reply

      I think there is a lot to be said for the collective spirit when it comes to new ideas and innovation. I can think I have the best business idea ever – then show you and you don’t get it, or think it’s lame. We NEED that feedback from one another in everything we do. While we don’t want to let others hold us back (we have to have a mind of our own), having a group of people within your business, trusted affiliates, and/or amongst your community that you take bounce ideas back and forth off of is critical. You have to be willing to take risks, but most of the time, we should make sure that they’re calculated and researched risks. Sort of ‘planned’ spontaneity.

      I may have totally oxymoron-ed the hell out of myself there, but I think you get the picture.

Leave a Reply