Many Kiwi drivers have at one time or another seen a possum glaring at them, rooted, paralysed in the middle of the road.
It just stays there not knowing whether to run to the left, run to the right, or just duck. Imagine as you drive towards a possum that it just did something, instead of staring at “the sound of inevitability”.
Many organisations are like this.
The relentless pace of change is such that some just sit, watch and wait, just like a possum. In some instances, an organisation may not even know how far away a car is, but they seem resigned to the fact that somewhere there is a vehicleaccelerating hard, with a carefree determination. The consequences are inevitable. Just ask Nokia.
There potentially could be many reasons for why an organisation lets this happen and there is certainly plenty written about it. Perhaps it is about leadership, perhaps it is about access to capital, perhaps it is about capability, perhaps it is different for every industry.
Ultimately though, it must be about an organisation’s culture and how outwardly focused they are. It is difficult for any organisation to break their beliefs, their habits and shift gears in the face of change. Like people, organisations can resist any change with great tenacity and cling to a hope it would be ok (the carswerve won’t it?). This is often despite the very real demand that change must happen, whether it is from customers, competitors or the wider environment.
When this happens, it is not the pace or nature of the change that kills an organisation, it is inaction and / or paralysis. It is inaction where the leaders don’t have enough confidence to make a decision or they are convinced the current strategic approach is right, and it is built by misguided beliefs (the car will miss me). It is paralysis, when an organisation seeing the car coming towards them, responds by conducting strategic reviews, carefully working out all the possibilities.
I think that in some instances, even if an organisation tried the smallest of change, a step to the left or right it could be enough.