Chapter 5

Fail 5: Not changing before you have to

If your customers are reasonably happy and profits are ticking along at a reasonable level, it’s understandable why many organisations may take the stance ‘why change if we don’t have to?’ After all, change can be unsettling, uncomfortable, and messy.

But we say you shouldn’t fear change, and there always comes a time when you have to break the mould.

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that equilibriums are fragile. For the world of business, leaders have had to act quickly to optimise their company’s resilience, rebalancing for risk and liquidity, while assessing opportunities for growth coming out of the downturn. Responding to the pandemic has underscored the need for decision-makers to accelerate the adoption of agile ways of working and value-chain transformation to help mitigate uncertainty. Seen in this light, the question posed above appears to be based on a false premise. Instead, organisations must realise that the only viable option is to change before the competition forces you to.

Beyond the pandemic

and its negative impact on global supply chains, organisations must face the effects of an accelerating deglobalisation trend (including nearshoring, intelligent forecasting, skills shortages, etc.), as well as the growing demands for sustainable products and production lines that use less resources, energy, and generate less waste. With so many moving targets, the question for businesses shouldn’t be whether to transform, but how to transform (and how quickly can it be done).

Digital transformation shouldn’t only be seen as the purchase and implementation of new software to enable a company to do what they have always done quicker and more efficiently. This perspective is based on the limited and limiting assumption that technology should first and foremost be brought to bear on the challenges of the past. On the contrary, there is a very strong case to be made for making changes that specifically target your ability to make changes. After all, the effective use of innovative technology creates value, positively impacts productivity, and provides the means to rapidly shape or reshape operations. Digitally enabled organisations have the capabilities to withstand the impact of pandemics (and other calamities), and should be far more agile on their path to recovery.