Bader Rutter

Change or Die

Change isn’t a choice, it’s an inevitability.  

And in business as in life, handling change is a skill.  

With its roster of change experts and its focus on practical application, Bader Rutter’s annual Innovation Experience, or INEX, event brought together B2B marketers in Chicago and delivered three key lessons that can help equip us with the necessary tools to not only navigate but also to identify the disruptions that signal change.  

Look for ways to change. 

Change is inevitable. In fact, according to guest speaker and bestselling author Ariane De Bonvoisin, we are all inhabiting a state of change, whether it’s that we’re in the middle of a life change, we’re thinking about a change, we’re helping someone else with a change or we’re waiting for someone else to change. 

This is true in our businesses as well. 

Businesses that accept change’s constancy and embrace it have better odds.

Change, by its code name “innovation,” is at the core of many mission statements. Looking for opportunities to innovate is a great first step, but recognizing innovation as available to the entire business is as important. Innovation may not be the next widget, but rather a change in how the widget is shipped, manufactured and ordered or how customers relate to it. 

Entrepreneurs and INEX panelists Jake Gafner, Chicago city manager for Shyp, and Jack Sutherland, VP of marketing and operations for Charlie App, suggested that innovation was as simple as spotting something in your market only you can capitalize on. Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company and guest of the event, embraces this narrow focus, suggesting, “Don’t be the best, be the only one who does one thing — the only one in your space who delivers it.” 

The lesson was simple: Change happens. The directive, even clearer:

Find a space — internally or externally — to innovate and own it. 

Develop an approach to change. 

The first step in your or your business’ approach to change is to channel resistance into action. To get there, De Bonvoisin coaches that focusing on what you can control during change can help. We can’t control a down-market economy. We can’t control consumer demand for transparency. We can control frequent internal discussion and innovation sessions at our business and with ourselves. 

Attitude matters. 

Taylor challenged the teams at INEX to consider their own focus. Sure, business leaders are looking for new marketing systems, trend reports and consumer research, but the reality of change is that each individual business leader must also recognize what drives them as a person to be able to facilitate positive change. 

Not ready to start those intrapersonal conversations with yourself? There’s another available course of action you can control: Be a fanatical learner. Beyond research, an unfettered curiosity gives you new perspectives on your business challenges. 

Know that you’re not alone. 

Your business isn’t the only one facing change. Carl Nordman and Stephen Marshall of the IBM Institute for Business Value offered the proof that we are working in unprecedented times. What makes the world’s top executives cringe? Their Global C-Suite Study, complete with data from 28,000 interviews stretching back to 2003, says it’s fear that a new rival could turn their business into roadkill. 

Referred to as the “Uber Syndrome,” where a competitor with a completely different business model enters your industry and reinvents services or the category or upends the supply chain, leaders collectively recognized change is pervasive and multidirectional.

For Nordman and Marshall, we’re living in the “age of disruption,” and the many points of entry in our industries and the many ways to innovate make it very hard to see where the competition is coming from. Tunnel vision can infect businesses, keeping leaders from recognizing disruption coming from anywhere but right in front of them.

Anticipating change has become a mandate of business, not of just one industry or a business. 

At Bader Rutter, we coach that when tackling change in your business, consider that the most successful approach is to act. Look at trends, consumer interests and “ankle biter” entrepreneurs constantly challenging current models. Learn all you can about your industry and your company’s culture. Give your employees the learning opportunities that foster innovation. 

Finally, leverage your partnerships to find synergies in places you may not have formerly explored. Embracing this entrepreneurial mindset, coupled with an intrapersonal pep talk to embrace change, can help you and your business survive and succeed. 

Want to know more about Bader Rutter’s exclusive INEX offering or about how we help businesses strategize change? Contact us today at info@bader-rutter.com

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