There’s every reason for people in their organizations to stay the course. Most businesses are structured to reinforce the status quo: Job descriptions, functional organizations, reporting relationships, budgets, and performance measures work together to focus time, attention, and resources. There’s little incentive to change.
But even in highly successful businesses, you can find change leaders challenging the status quo, as champions of new products, services, and even business models. In recent weeks several examples surfaced in the business press:
- Forbes: “Ford Motor said today it’s forming a new subsidiary, Ford Smart Mobility LLC, based in Palo Alto, Calif., and said one of its directors, former Steelcase chief executive James Hackett, would step down from the board to lead the group.”
- NY Times: “Not that long ago, AT&T had to fight for business with other phone companies. Now its competitors are not just Verizon and Sprint, but Amazon and Google. CEO Randall Stephenson has set out to retrain his 280,000 employees to write code, analyze data, and make quick decisions. His advice to employees: “Retool now and don’t expect to stop.”
Aspiring change leaders would be all well advised to observe them, understand how they navigate difficult environments, and learn from their experience.