As a business leader, one of your most important jobs is to continuously transform your company. If you believe your company can survive and thrive in stand-still mode, you are mistaken. Regardless of whether your company chooses to transform or not, the marketplace is constantly changing.
Staying ahead of the curve
Many companies believe growth is a linear path, just continuing to do more of what they have done in the past. They must realize, however, that sustainable, healthy growth is a function of re-imagining and reinventing every aspect of their business constantly. History is full of examples of companies that fell in love with their then hugely successful products, only to find their business decimated in the coming years due to market changes.
Transformation may be revolutionary or evolutionary. Revolutionary transformation is disruptive and reconfigures the company. You often end up with a completely different company. Revolutionary transformation is necessary at times; however, if overused can tear a company apart and make it lose its bearings.
Evolutionary transformation is preferable. It allows a company to build on its strengths, question its assumptions in the face of changing marketplace conditions, challenge itself to drive product and process innovation and invention, and be ahead of the curve by not being afraid to take well-calculated risks.
Understanding and appreciating the need for transformation is one thing; to be able to execute your vision of change is another. Knowing what must change and what must not change is critical to achieving success. Many companies try to change their fundamental business model without realizing the implications. Transformation must start by reaffirming the spirit, the business DNA of the organization. Doing so will ensure transformation does not violate the mission and core management philosophies/business model of the organization.
It is human nature to resist change and fear the unknown. Likewise, organizations, for many good reasons, protect their legacies. As a leader, you must create a sense of urgency for transformation. Marketing inside the organization to gain employee support is as important as marketing outside. The case for transformation cannot be made on emotions and passion alone. It must be made based on hard facts, data and thorough analysis. The pros and cons of staying with the status quo must be carefully articulated. And, the right expectations must be set about the magnitude of change and the pace of change.
Reinventing the Baylor College of Medicine
Last year, Dr. Paul Klotman took over as the CEO of the Baylor College of Medicine, an institution established more than 100 years ago. With an operating budget exceeding $1 billion and total research support of $400 million, BCM ranks as one of the top 25 medical schools for research in the U.S.
Do you transform a well-established and successful organization such as BCM? Absolutely. Dr. Klotman is leading an inspired charge to reinvent BCM. Dr. Klotman says Baylor has been a fabulous research institution, but he believes it must now rebalance itself to include greater emphasis on the clinical component. He has built a case that shows Baylor’s research will progress even faster when it closely and directly links to patient care and cure.
While BCM has built an enviable national reputation, Dr. Klotman is transforming BCM to build a global footprint. He points out that health care issues are no longer isolated or contained within one region of the world. The U.S. is vulnerable to outbreaks that have occurred in other countries, and other countries across the globe are increasingly dealing with many of the health issues that we have faced, such as diabetes, cancer and heart ailments. He is repositioning BCM to play a vital role in the health care education and research needs of the interconnected world.
Ravi Kathuria is a recognized thought leader and president of Cohegic Corp., a management consulting and executive coaching firm. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, WorldNews, and featured on CBS Radio and the BusinessMakers Show. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, The Coherent Company: The Struggle for the Next Level.