The book “Good to Great” is filled with Case Study after Case Study of organizations that faced a critical inflection point about whether to change something that was working or stay the course.
There are a ton of examples of companies that didn’t recognize the need to change (Best Buy, Kodak, etc..). The internet is littered with these stories – this blog too. The opposite is harder to find. Most companies seem to get lucky — but my personal favorite example of an organization having some ‘business balls’ is Charles Schwab. Perhaps I’m biased because I worked there for six years. But, Schwab saw the internet as something that would change the face of trading and chose to do something about it. The easy thing would have been to ignore the online shift as the company was already doing well. ‘Do nothing’ as a strategy would have been easy to sell to the investors. Instead, Schwab invested heavily in moving their model and their business to the internet. For more, read this article.
The change was painful, the risk was incredibly high, and the results took a while to be recognized but reflecting now – it was genius. They had a simple goal, kept to it, and succeeded.
Digital Transformation may appear more accessible because there are so many companies talking about it, but it is no less risky. The best Transformational efforts learn from what succeeded with Schwab — start with a clear vision or goal, maintain a laser focus on that goal, and apply the resources, commitment, and patience to see the goal to the end. That decision was not easy; it was not a minor investment – but the risk not only met the original goal but created the next category of brokers.
So — What happens if you do nothing?
References and Resources
Jim Collins – Good to Great