Change is an opportunity to make course corrections, update, and modify. It can invigorate and inspire. But what about changes so all-encompassing that the external industry landscape has shifted to the extent that nothing less than a fundamental revision of business strategy is necessary? If you’re in healthcare, federal mandates may be behind a transition of this magnitude, affecting delivery of clinical care as well as operational systems. Commodity driven price structures are challenging margins in manufacturing. Technology firms are struggling to differentiate in a crowded market.
Economic shifts in the last decade coupled with the aggressive pace of technological advancement have forever altered the way businesses communicate with their markets, and most importantly, what they are saying. In fact, ‘markets’ have morphed into actual individuals, defying categorization and capable of responding quickly and directly to reach multitudes of like-minded consumers.
Intel founder Andrew Grove, in an address before the Academy of Management, described these über-changes as reactions to a strategic inflection point. Grove explained inflection point as the mark on a curvature where the arc shifts from concave to convex, or vice versa. In a business context, he saw this juncture as the spot where outside forces have challenged the norm, radically repositioning the landscape of the competitive environment. Resulting actions taken by a company’s leadership will alter the trajectory of success, either launching business to new heights or sinking revenues to new depths.
While the point itself may be static, it is not a place a company can afford to remain for any length of time. Recognition of the enormity of the change may be slow to emerge, but the response must be deliberate and well-focused. Old narratives, or company stories, must be abandoned in favor of key messages and communication strategies that will resonate within the new paradigm.