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Change Will Not Wait for You to Change

Globalization, technology, and economic turmoil are driving change in every business sector at a velocity never before experienced.

Of course, many readers are already familiar with this destructive reality because their firms are suffering from its effects.

However, all-too-many business leaders and directors are not yet:
—acknowledging the threat of this unprecedented velocity of change
—confronting this era of enduring change with a sense of urgency
—anticipating and planning for the profound changes most likely to influence their category and company in the immediate future.

The need to institute fundamental strategic change in businesses of every size and kind cannot be underestimated or postponed.

Change did not wait for Yahoo to change

Founded in 1994, the firm grew rapidly throughout the 1990s, waited far too late to diversify into a web portal and, ultimately, was left in the dust bin of its transformed category. In 2009, Carol Bartz was brought in to “turn it around” and then she was abruptly terminated in 2011. On September 8, 2011, this headline appeared in the Financial Times, “Yahoo searches for a new direction”. Change will not wait for any business to “find yet another new direction.

Change did not wait for Best Buy to change

With over 1,000 stores in six countries, Best Buy was named "Company of the Year" by Forbes, "Specialty Retailer of the Decade" by Discount Store News, and one of the most Admired Companies by Fortune. Yet, the Financial Times on September14, 2011, stated “Best Buy feels impact of online battles” and went on to offer this inexplicable explanation from the firm, ”Best Buy attributed its drop in net income to promotional spending and the costs of opening new stores” Change will not wait for any business to realize that online is today’s “new store.”

Change did not wait for PepsiCo to change

“PepsiCo plans a reshuffle amid flagging US drinks sales,” reported the Financial Times in its September 16, 2011 issue. The article expanded on the PepsiCo’s numerous challenges including, “tough competition from rival Coca-Cola and consumer preferences that have shifted away from sparkling beverages. “ However, Pepsi is not new and as Bonnie Herzog, beverage analyst at Wells Fargo echoed, the “turnaround of Pepsi’s drink business was ongoing and could be a long-term effort.” Change will not wait for any firm to define a fundamental strategic solution to a host of severe, enduring strategic problems.

 Change did not wait for HP to change

On September 12, 2011, HP ran a full page ad in the Financial Times with this bravado headline, "The Spirit of a Start-Up—The Security of HP.” Even if advertising could restore the flagging confidence in any company, and it cannot, the word ”security” seems an odd choice given that HP appointed Carly Fiorina as CEO in 1999 and forced her to step down in 2005. HP asked Robert Wayman to serve as interim CEO until, in the same year, the HP board appointed Mark Hurd to succeed him. HP appointed Hurd to the additional post of chairman in 2010, just before asking him to resign his positions after a series of alleged indiscretions. HP then named Léo Apotheker CEO and president. After less than a year on the job, during which he (presumably) endorsed the “security” advertisement, Apotheker was replaced by Meg Whitman.

Change will not wait while a revolving door of CEOs fails to focus on an achievable strategy to remain relevant in an industry that relentlessly recreates itself. Change will continue to ravage the bottom line of businesses in every community and corner of the globe. Change will continue to transform iconic brands into forgotten relics. Change will continue to make business models obsolete. Change will continue to cause entire categories to disappear. Moreover, change will not wait for you to introduce fundamental change—not cosmetic change, in your business because:
—The pace of future change will accelerate.
—The change in every aspect of commerce will be transformational, not incremental.
—The change in customers will occur even more rapidly than the change in businesses.
—Change will become more and more difficult to predict.

 Fundamental strategic change cannot be delegated. Fundamental strategic change must be conceived and driven by the CEO and the firm’s senior management team. Fundamental strategic change must anticipate the changes most likely to affect the business or brand. Fundamental change must have total internal consensus or it will fail. Fundamental strategic change must be implemented with discipline and rigor. Fundamental change must be approved and monitored continuously by the firm’s CEO and Board. Fundamental change must be introduced in your business now:
—before change forces you to change
—before change enables your competition to capture your customers and share of market
—before change causes your company to lose momentum and relevancy
—before change makes change in your business impossible.

About the Author(s)

Robert H. Bloom is a widely respected authority on business growth. As US chairman and CEO of Publicis Worldwide, the centerpiece of the $4.6 billion global marketing services company, he helped craft and implement the growth strategies of some of the world’s largest companies and brands, including BMW, L’Oréal, Nestlé, Southwest Airlines, T-Mobile, and Novartis’ Theraflu and Triaminic. As an entrepreneur, he grew an advertising agency into a successful national business. Bloom advises firms of every type and size on their growth strategies. He is the author of THE NEW EXPERTS: Win Today’s Newly Empowered Customers at Their 4 Decisive Moments and THE INSIDE ADVANTAGE: The Strategy That Unlocks the Hidden Growth in Your Business. For more information, visit: www.thenewexperts.com