Change Implementation Techniques for Creating a Sense of Urgency

Technique 2.5 Some Important Questions

Some questions to improve understanding of your organisation and identify a sense of urgency

1. Why does your organisation exist?

2. Who are your organisation's customers and what is their importance?

3. Who should be your organisation's customers?

4. Where are your organisation's customers?

5. What does your customer buy?

6. What do your organisation's customers consider as value?

7. a. What are your customers' needs and wants,

b. Are you satisfying them?

8. a. Where are you positioned in the minds of customers?

b. Where would you like to be positioned?

9. How would you increase the emotional attachment with your customer?

10. What activities/businesses is your organisation in?*ii

11. If you were not in the current area of business/activity already, would your organisation be going into it? *ii (If the answer is no, then what are you going to do about it, ie how would you change it and create significant value?)

(look at current and future trends, especially demographic changes and those dynamics; how would you change)

12. What activities/businesses should your organisation be in?*ii

(Consider the possibility of your activities/businesses becoming obsolete and/or impact of changing trends, challenges and opportunities in the market place and environment, such as innovations, customers' demands, demographics, etc.. Furthermore, this should involve a systematic analysis of all existing products, services, processes, end uses and distribution channels. Are they still viable? Will they remain viable? Do you still give value to the customer now and will you in the future? Do they still fit the realities of population, markets, technology and economy? If not, how do we best handle them, ie stop spending resources and energy on them? Too often energy is spent defending yesterday!!!)

13. What industry is your organisation in?

14. What industry should your organisation be in?

15. Who are your organisation's competitors?

16. How are your organisation's competitors different from your organisation?


i) When answering the above questions, you need to keep in mind that assumptions about the environment, mission and core competencies must fit reality; all 3 areas (environment, mission and core competencies) have to integrate with one another

ii) Need to focus on why the firm exists and what it does to justify its existence, rather than processes, etc and lose sight of their purpose. Some examples

- Kodak (initially it was in the business of helping people preserve memories. Then it mistakenly saw itself as primarily selling film, ie film selling paradigm. With the arrival of the digital age, Kodak still was trying to get people to buy film rather than focusing on how to help people preserve memories. In fact Kodak had invented one of the first digital camera in the 1970s and could have led the way in introducing online photo sharing and cloud-based file back-up systems. Instead it remained focused on film until it was too late

- Railroad owners (in the 1900s they mistakenly saw themselves in the railroad business and not transportation. Thus they missed the chance to go into other forms of transportation, like air

- Bars, restaurant, cafes, etc (they see themselves in the food and beverage industry when they are really in the "atmosphere and experience" business" as people could buy cheaper food and beverages elsewhere and consume them at home. Thus people are paying extra for the "atmosphere and experience").

Type of industry or business, eg
- electricity firms don't sell us electricity but sell us light, warmth and coolness, ie service industry that can use anything from passive solar design to thermal insulation mats through standard air-conditioning

- banks have new opportunities outside of traditional lending revolve around banks realising that they are in the information business. This includes protecting digital identity, handling data privacy, assessing funding in a crisis, etc
"...Banks have an opportunity to fully engage with the emerging data economy...... to leverage their expertise, experience and technology into new areas to serve their customers, and grow...... they serve a critical function in the economy, including credit intermediation and facilitating economic activity..."
James Eyers 2020

- mining firms are evolving into recycling resources businesses, ie most of our copper, gold, aluminium, etc comes from piles of old mobile phones and not massive open cut mines.  These technological advances in materials processing and recycling using renewables will result in substituting energy for minerals and reduces the concern associated  the scarce minerals

- a candlemaker is selling ambience and experience to customers, not just candles

- fuel-selling firms, eg petrol/gas station, are part of the mobility business, ie moving people to their destinations. This mindset change has resulted in an investment in big data to provide real-time information on driver and vehicle performance plus prediction of mechanical faults. Also, thinking about mobility has identified the changing
a) use of cars
b) type of car
c) attitudes
plus an understanding of trends like the shared economy and attitudes to car ownership.  For example, by partnering with a ride sharing service, it is bringing value and understanding more about the digital and shared economy, eg how do you think like a start-up company, what are the characteristics of people in the shared economy, etc

iii) Similarly when looking at which business/activity you are in, it is worth noting some different organisations' approaches, eg

- Starbucks' approach

"...we're not in the coffee business, serving people; we're in the people business, serving coffee..."

Howard Schultz as quoted by Jim McDonald in Patricia Sellers, 2005

- in response to the threat from the fast growing renewable energy market, some fossil fuel firms, such as BP and Shell, have undergone major changes in their mindsets and now see themselves as energy providers. In fact, they are lured by profit-making, ie

"...We are now involved in major energy projects involving wind and biomass, but I can assure you this has nothing to do with altruism. We see this as a whole new field in which to develop a thriving business for many years to come..."

Aidan Murphy, vice president, Shell International as quoted by Karlson Hargroves et al, 2005

- What business/industry are sports people in? If they are in the entertainment industry, then all the antics and hype, etc are acceptable; if in the sports industry only, then all the antics and hype may not be as acceptable

Of interest is elite sport, ie is it in the entertainment or sport business? In the entertainment business, drug taking is "acceptable", as many entertainers like many movie stars, singers, etc are habitual drug takers. If one assumes that elite sport is part of the entertainment business, and not merely sport, then there could be a case for drug taking being acceptable!!!! By contrast, if you state that they are in the sports business (not entertainment), then drug-taking is not acceptable in sport as it is still traditionally based on the amateur values of fair play, good sportsmanship; there is more to it than just winning, etc.

- when asked what business his company is in, CIO of FedEx, Bob Carter answered

"...We engineer time..."

Rob Carter as quoted by Geoffrey Colvin, 2006a

- Hermes (has been in business for over 170 years) does not regard itself as being in the fashion business or luxury good industry but being in the life business; its philosophy is to create things that will be better and nicer in 20 years time

- Air New Zealand flies people, not planes!!!!!!!

- The Bunnings group is not in hardware but home improvement, especially "do-it-yourself"

- AT&T is not in the telephone business but in the information business

- Some players in the music (record) industry realise that they are in the knowledge management industry and as a result are diversifying into merchandising, web marketing, publishing, films, games, etc

- Wotif (online accommodation booking service) business model is based on serving the customers rather than the hoteliers, and allowing small accommodation operators the same access to the marketplace where bigger hotels have dominated. The web was the technology that allowed this to happen.

- Westfield (successful world-wide mall developer) does not think like a property developer which is building malls and filing them with tenants. Rather it thinks like a retailer dealing with customers; with the co-existence of food, fashion (high and low) and entertainment in the mall. They focus on customers and products.

- Telstra (Australian telecommunications player) is in the industry of connectivity; not in ITC

- Westpac (Australian bank) is in the service industry (not a retailer, not a product manufacturer, not a consumer packaged-goods firm, not a speculator in financial markets, etc

- Automobiles makers are about mobility and status. Traditional automobile manufacturers such as Ford, Toyota, VW, General Motors, Porsche, Audi, etc regard themselves as being in the mobility industry/automobile business. One of the reasons for this is the car sharing industry has made ride-hailing so convenient (on-demand mobility) and comparatively cheap. This is combined with autonomy to make car ownership less attractive despite its privacy and comfort plus driving pleasure, ie

"...If a car drives you to your door and picks you up when you want it, it is nearly as convenient as having one parked outside. Those seeking privacy together with convenience can order a single vehicle all to themselves. Driving pleasure will become extinct, whether or not the passenger owns a car.......vehicle such as the electric van......will lack a steering wheel or pedals......that is why drivers who interact with a phone at the same time as steering tell us something: they gain more pleasure or utility from the device in hand and the machine they control. As we become busier, time devoted solely to driving a car increasingly feels like a waste. Some 39% of Americans surveyed by Ford said they committed by bus, train or taxi in order to multitask...... it is more likely that road transport becomes utility, something that can be brought by volume, like gas, electricity and water. It is currently cheaper to drive in a car owned than it is to travel the same distance by taxi but autonomy will change that.....estimated self-driving taxis would cost today's equivalent $1.00 per mile, compared with Uber's average of $2.50..."

John Gapper 2016

. Remember

"...all the customer is interested in are his/her values, needs and reality..."

Peter Drucker, 2001

. This is linked with the question "who are we?" The answer to this question determines whether or not the organisation searches for unconventional opportunities. Too many organisations define themselves by what they do, rather than by what they know (their core competencies) and what they own (their strategic assets). For example, if universities only regard themselves as degree granting institutions, they will miss the opportunity offered for on-demand training for mid-career executives on the Internet. Universities need to define themselves by core competencies (curriculum development and knowledge transfer) and assets (respected brand name)

. Once these questions have been answered, the results can be translated into objectives, which must be

- representative of the fundamental strategy of the business

- operational, ie translate into specific targets and assignments

- motivational for work and achievement

- selective to enable the concentration of resources and efforts

- focused on multiple objectives rather than a single objective

- protectors of the organisation's future

. Furthermore the objectives must be clear, unambiguous, measurable, have a deadline, accountability and flexibility.

Remember: objectives are based on expectations that can change depending upon circumstances, including those outside the organisation's control

. The main objectives should revolve around marketing, innovation, productivity, social responsibilities and profits; with the allocation of the 3 factors on production, ie human resources, capital resources and physical resources. The objectives can be further classified; for example, the innovation objective can be divided into 3 types:

i) product (or services)

ii) social (marketplace, customer behaviours and values)

iii) managerial (skills and activities to make, and to bring to the market, products and services).

One of the problems of setting innovation objectives is measuring the relative impact and importance of various innovations (for more detail, see questioning in this Knowledge Base)

(sources: Peter Drucker, 1993 & 2001; Robert Heller, 2000; Gary Hamel, 2000; Jack Welch et al, 2001; Patricia Sellers, 2005; Karlson Hargroves, 2005; Geoffrey Colvin, 2006a; Arthur VanGundy, 2007; Julian Bajkowski, 2009; James Carlopio, 2010; Robert Harley, 2010; Michael Mc Queen, 2013)


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