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Change is no longer a luxury; it’s a matter of survival

When Netflix burst on the market in the late 1990s, becoming popular a few years later with its mail-based movie service, it would have been difficult for Blockbuster - the undisputed DVD-rental market leader - to imagine it had just 10 years left.

It’s clear what happened in hindsight: Blockbuster lost out to Netflix because it did not change and adapt to users’ evolving needs and the new opportunities that technology offered.

While Netflix made inroads with a service based on a flat monthly subscription fee, Blockbuster remained tethered to its traditional business model that required people to go to a store to rent their movies and pay a fine for not returning them on time. 

The changes have only accelerated since then. Today, it is even more common for disruptive technologies to appear and shatter existing business models. Google, Facebook, Apple, Airbnb, Napster, Uber, Instagram, and the list goes on and on. Netflix itself has had to reinvent itself several times.

For this reason, change today is no longer a luxury, but rather a matter of survival. It is no longer about adapting to the changes and trying to catch up, hoping that eventually everything will become relatively normal again. This is the new normal.

The need for a new conceptual framework

Today’s changes are so profound that they are constantly altering basic business paradigms.

Understanding and achieving success in today’s world, therefore, requires much more than a strategy; a new conceptual framework is needed.

For example, in terms of communications and an organization’s reputation management, the old vertical model in which a single actor – whether the government, a company, or an institution – related to others (citizens, employees, customers) by “sending down” different messages to each one is no longer effective.

We’re all connected today to hundreds or thousands of people, and we can influence them and are influenced by them. Because of our level of interconnection, it is as though we were living in glass spheres and everything is out in the open.

We all have access to two elements that once exclusively pertained to the mass media: reach and credibility. We all have reach because thanks to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram our comment or photo can reach millions of people, and we gain credibility because people have learned to distrust the media while still trusting people.

The power to communicate has become democratized. Organizations face a new context in which anyone can speak positively or negatively about them. They can no longer control the conversation. The only thing they can control is how they participate in the conversation, and if that participation isn’t relevant it’s quickly ignored.

In that regard, today’s world is no longer vertical; it’s orbital: There are no longer positions of power but rather spheres of influence. All of us – whether people, organizations, governments – relate to people who move in different, yet interconnected, orbits. That is why no one can achieve results if his or her objectives are not aligned with the common interest.

And in such a complex world, one mind – or just a handful – is not enough. The consulting guru, the one who would show up at a company to provide the recipe for success, no longer exists. 

Today, an organization looking to confront change, discover its purpose and align itself with the common interest to achieve extraordinary results needs consultants who are true collaborators and are eager to accompany it along the fascinating road to the future.


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