Transformation. Transformative. Transformed.
While these words are associated with positive, seismic shifts, the road to change, especially transformative change, is often bumpy and fraught with worry and procrastination. For example, If you’ve been paying attention to the news you know that the mass proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) has already begun disrupting and revolutionizing industries. It’s also stirred up insecurities and naysayers among professionals who feel threatened by the tech.
This isn’t new for the business world, of course, as real change is always met with hesitation and resistance. To better understand these insecurities, I’ve spent the past year talking with colleagues. Many of my early discussions were naturally focused on AI and whether I saw ChatGPT as a useful (and ethical) tool for content creation. My answer then and now is “it depends,” but that’s another article for another day.
Today I am writing about change and business transformation in the macro sense. From a technological perspective, I’ve set out to discover the tools and systems that businesses are sunsetting to make way for newer ones. From a cultural perspective, I explored how businesses were engaging with colleagues, clients, and the community in authentic ways. The results were mixed. I learned some not-so-good news in addition to having an epiphany that led to this article.
The not-so-good news: It’s become strikingly clear that most business leaders seem unsure of what steps to take next to transform their organization. Their uncertainty is palpable and, for many, paralyzing. In the face of change, many are simply bowing out — and to their detriment.
The epiphany: Businesses can adapt even if they don’t fully adopt new technologies or ideas right away. This is a universal approach to transformation that isn’t tethered to any innovation or ideology of the moment. It is an opportunity for any leader or individual to spur action and get their transformation underway, both personally and professionally.
Below are three ways I believe can help you prepare for that transformation:
1. Become a student of change. Take AI for example. I suggest treating AI like you did your favorite (or least favorite) class in school. Buckle down and learn about how you can integrate it into your business even if you’re not yet ready to actually greenlight the change.
I liken AI to the Internet circa 1996. Why 1996? Because I vividly remember that back then people were still thinking of the Internet as something that only some would use. Clearly, those people were wrong. Had they at least taken the time to learn about the internet, they might have been better prepared for what was to come next. I believe the same will be true for AI.
Here are some places where you can start to beef up your AI knowledge: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/ai-marketing-tools
2. Reimagine your operations. All of them. Note: I did not say change all of your operations (at least…not yet). Pretend you were given a blank slate, and you can design the business operations you are responsible for in any way you would like. What would you stop, start, and continue? Would you work with different colleagues? Clients? Would you work on other things? Create different products and services? Once you map out your reimagined business operations, ask, “What’s possible now?” Then, get to work on your plan to bring those changes into reality.
3. Assess your business readiness for transformation. That includes technological changes as well as cultural changes. How agile is your organization as a whole? How agile are the people on your team? If you determine the answer is “Not at all,” what are two things you can do in the next two weeks to move the needle on your organizational agility?
Note: The answer is not to fire everyone—well, honestly, it might be, but you likely cannot do that, so you may as well delete that from your consideration. In all seriousness, if you do find yourself in a situation where you believe the only way to a better organization is to start over, I challenge you to work on a plan that makes that a reality, too. Sometimes, a fresh start is the most appropriate path.
While the above steps are “simple,” I know they are not easy. This is why in our new advisory model, SNR Creative has built a practice area devoted to helping businesses assess, strategize, and successfully execute through transformations.
If your business is standing at the door of change and could benefit from having thought partnership and a team of problem solvers to help you navigate, please reach out to me at [email protected].