Monday 19 March 2012

Sustainability and thriving on the challenges of change are intimately connected

This IBM study has been referred to in recent discussions on LinkedIn about why and how change programs fail and succeed.

The study, that involved 1,130 CEOs, conducted in-depth analysis to determine the characteristics of the Enterprise of the Future.

The study says “80% of CEOs view sustainability as impacting brand value” and
“While 83% of CEOs expect substantial change within their enterprises, only 61% feel confident in their ability to manage it”

These conclusions suggest to me a key about the successful future of business - Sustainability and thriving on the challenges of change are intimately connected.

The following diagram from the study suggests five core traits of the enterprise of the future. Each are very useful ways to think about our businesses and determine how well we are placed to thrive on the future. My reflections on each of the five are below.

I am keen to know your your thoughts about these five insights or others you may have about what the future might look like. Please comment or email me

Hungry for change

I meet many people in person each month. Conversations often centre around their hunger for change and yet anxiety about making desired change happen.

There is a deep frustration with the status quo in the world right now. Seth Godin captures it well when he says “ The status quo is no longer something we want at work or in politics or in any organisation we care about.”

There is also frustration with being sustainable and a concern about the costs of actually being sustainable. This frustration is particularly evident in the SME space where there is not generally the investment dollars available like there is in big corporations.

Hunger must be satisfied otherwise we all become ineffective.

Innovative beyond customer imagination

This kind of innovation is key to satisfying our hunger. A successful business today delivers value to all stakeholders, not just the customer. And such value is about what stakeholders demand (must have), desire (should have) and feel they deserve (nice to have).

And the wider community and our planet are increasingly seen, rightly, as key stakeholders of all businesses.

Sustainability is moving from a nice to have to a must have in the eyes of the ethical consumer. As I have referred to many times, value and values based businesses are on the rise.

Globally integrated

Our world is a very small place. Too small in fact, and with insufficient resources to accommodate us all in the life-style many of us have become accustomed too.

There is increasing awareness of the interconnectedness of all living beings. Unless your business products and services and how you do business reflect this interconnectedness you will not survive.

Further and increasingly, solutions to the challenges we all face must be global to actually be real solutions.

Disruptive by nature

I often reflect lately on a common phrase in my school reports: “Ian is a disruptive influence in class.” I was bored with the status quo even then! Disruptive by nature. Today I am much more constructive in how I disrupt! Nevertheless I believe we must be continually questioning the status quo and asking how can we do better? How can we be more valuable while at the same time being sustainable?

Genuine, not just generous

In the first Willability webinar the topic was No BS Relationships and our special guest Paul Dunn shared his insights from reading the book Spendshift on authenticity, transparency, clarity, trust, generosity, certainty. We all agreed that these are all keys to No BS relationships. The ensuing conversation was very much centred on how being genuine was a key to such relationships.

Paul shared a quote from the book “Today’s stakeholders can see through a glossy cover-up. They crave a true, authentic story.”

There is a lot of smoke and mirrors around sustainability and change and it doesn’t cut it with the most discerning of customers in history, which today I think are the majority of people.

What does the future of your enterprise look like? You can’t predict it. You can create it.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

PS The next Willability Webinar on March 29th is about collaboration, a key to sustainability and thriving on the challenges of change.

My very special guest is Susan Furness a pioneer in the art of conscious conversations. Susan is based in Dubai and is a person I collaborate with. In fact we will be working together in Dubai at the time of this webinar.

Details and registration here.

Please join us. Bring your uniqueness. Share. Change.

I work with leaders to conceive and implement highly successful change programs.

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