Embracing Change

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We had the pleasure of listening to Mike Wokosin, Senior  Vice President at Edelman, one of the world’s largest public relations firm, speak at the I3 Forum. Mike is a leader in the digital strategy group and has considerable experience in the digital marketing sphere. Using an example of one of his favorite TV shows, Modern Family, he tried to explain how traditional advertising is increasingly being cannibalized by digital marketing. Indeed it is! According to a report by Forrester Research, about $77 billion is expected to be spent on digital marketing per year by 2016, roughly the equivalent of the ad spend in television in 2011.

The world is changing so rapidly that the entire existence of some industries is under threat. Take for example the print industry. The rapid advancement of smartphones and tablet devices is increasingly forcing even the hard core publishers to consider internet and mobile as mainstream publishing channels. ‘News’ that addressed the reader-as-a-citizen is being increasingly substituted with ‘content’ that addresses the reader-as-a-consumer.  In October 2012, Newsweek announced that it was ending its print edition and transitioning to an all-digital format by the end of 2012. It will launch an all-digital tablet edition called Newsweek Global that would require a paid subscription. Tina Brown, Newsweek Editor, wrote some very interesting lines in a memo to her staff. She said, “In our judgment, we have reached a tipping point at which we can most efficiently and effectively reach our readers in all-digital format. This was not the case just two years ago. It will increasingly be the case in the years ahead.”

Who would have thought two years ago that one of the oldest magazines in the US, that started publishing in 1933, would stop its print edition? It is in the context of change that we had an extremely fascinating discussion on managing change in at least three different classes in the last month itself. Without the ability to adapt and change continuously, organizations cannot thrive. During our discussions, the one model that always crops up is the Kotter Change Model, as outlined by Dr. John Kotter. The model comprises eight-steps that organizations should follow to improve their ability to change and increase their chances of success, both today and in the future. The Kotter model says that in order to effectively manage change, organizations should –

1. Create a sense of urgency

2. Put together a strong enough team to direct the process

3. Create an appropriate vision

4. Communicate that vision broadly

5. Empower employees to act on the vision

6. Produce sufficient short-term results to give their efforts credibility and to disempower the cynics

7. Build momentum and use that momentum to tackle tougher change problems and

8. Anchor the new behavior in the organizational culture

It is not the case that organizations do not see the need for change. They do. GM was aware of its problems even in 1984. Instead organizations do not take the holistic approach required to see the change through. However, by following the 8-Step Process given by Dr. Kotter, organizations can avoid failure and become adept at change. Perhaps, GM would not have been in the state today if they had better implemented the same processes that Toyota told them earlier. Of course, it is easier said than done. But when there are no other options, the only thing that can be done is to embrace change!

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”  ― Leo Tolstoy

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