A Shift in Perspective Regarding How Companies Change

Innovation has been portrayed as the savior that can revitalize the economy. But, we are starting to see a shift in perspective about how much companies should change. There is now a bit more recognition that the dark side of overdoing change should not be ignored.

This shift in thinking is beneficial because the right kinds of changes, not necessarily the most innovative, pave the road to success. Making the right kinds of changes is discussed in my report “Evolution, Not Revolution: How to Innovate Without Destroying Your Business”, which I published on this website back in 2007, long before the more recent increase in emphasis on the downside of excess change. Around the time I wrote that report, I’d be at a networking event and say that companies often change too much. And, people would frequently react as if I said something strange because everyone knows that companies resist change and need more of it. Yet, even back then there were examples of companies running into problems due to excess change, especially during times when growth stagnated.

Still, for years, the prevailing view was that companies don’t change enough. Granted, there were reasons for this view. After all, companies that failed to change could be disrupted and totally disappear. Nonetheless, change can be overdone. That’s why it’s important to change in ways that are right for the business, a point I’ve been making for years in my writing here on this blog and web site.

I find it encouraging that the January 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review offers articles that make the case for not overdoing change. A marked contrast from what tended to be conventional wisdom for quite some time now, these articles are a welcome shift in perspective from the often panic laden warnings urging companies to make major changes before it is too late.

However, the urgent, almost panic-like calls for change have not gone away. Just the other day, while I was reading Google News, I came across a short item with a rather urgent change is needed theme. True, there’s nothing wrong with calling for change. But, changing with panic-like urgency can be a problem in that it can easily foster excess change. And, excess change has a dark side.

Of course, some companies are too slow to change, and some of those actually could benefit from a more urgent push for change. On the other hand, there are many companies that change too much, and need to pay more attention to the downside of excess change. And, some companies do get change right. So, it’s important to strive for the latter where the kind of change is right.

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