Saturday, October 13, 2007

Change Management

Change happens. And managing this change is indeed the biggest challenge of most businesses as many business books will tell you.

But how do you predict it ? Of course, almost by definition you cannot.

The only way to predict change is to be awake. To constantly look over your shoulder. To keep a close eye on your competition. To really understand what your customers are saying.

In short, you need to immerse yourself in data from all sides. And there is no shortcut for it, no dashboard that will predict change. Dashboards are built about the past because the past can be accurately analyzed since we know everything about it. Peering into the future needs you to get out of your comfort zone, take your courage in both hands, and plunge yourself into the unfamiliar, messy data points that hold clues to what might lie ahead. If you fear so called "information overload" you are not going to have much success at anticipating change.

What are you looking for ? A number of things:

1. Patterns.

If something unexpected happens in a certain way over and over again, perhaps in different contexts, it is likely to herald change.

2. Changes in trends.

Trends are interesting ("oooh sales are up, how nice!") but it is changes in trends that are truly goldmines if we can only figure them out ("sales are rising, but slowdown every 3 weeks - I wonder why")

3. Connections.

It is critical to look outside your own business for connections. If people are spending more on your product in the evenings, maybe its because the ratings of the evening TV shows are down. What can you do with this information ?

4. Gaps in the "laws of common sense"

If the entire economy is going south but your sales numbers are still coming in then you better know exactly why. Otherwise you are either sitting on a disaster (sales is conning you) or an opportunity (people are using your product for a purpose that you have not yet understood). Either way someone in your industry is going to figure it out first - and whoever does this is going to eat your lunch.

In short if it does not make common sense, don't just accept it even if it is good news. Unless you can understand the phenomena at an every day, common sense level, you don't know what's going on - and change is likely to hit you like a brick.

No comments:

Post a Comment