Repositioning for relevance

No organisation, product or service can permanently rest on its laurels and the need to innovate or refresh must a constant for us all – no matter who we are or what we do, says Fiona Hewitt.

2015 has been a year of change for IMNZ and as an organisation our internal drive has been to reposition our business for greater relevance.

As an organisation which is soon to celebrate its 70th anniversary and as a business in the market to deliver learning and development in leadership and management for a constantly evolving and challenging marketplace; it is imperative that our services are seen by our market as relevant.

We are no different to any other organisation or industry sector in that for our long term survival we need to adapt or evolve to meet a changing marketplace. There are certainly well-known examples like the once-mighty Kodak which enjoyed a prominent history before being declared bankrupt in 2012 [and now seems to be reinventing itself].

The demise of Blockbuster videos is another who was once the “kingpin of video hire” before Netflix happened. Blockbuster was unconcerned and even had the opportunity to buy Netflix for US$50 million in 2000. It turned Netflix down and carried on confident that its existing business model, of renting out videos in a bricks and mortar environment, was still needed and in demand.

Over the next four years Netflix and its prominence grew and eventually went from a mail-order service to a streaming one. Blockbuster finally tried to enter the online viewing market but it was too late. On September 23, 2010 Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy.

The outspoken former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch once quoted “if you are not moving faster than your competitors – you are already dead… you have just haven’t stopped breathing yet”.

There are other examples of global organisations which innovated and adapted to a changing market – Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, now known as 3M, once struggled.

After years of mining losses and red ink, company founders and investors came to a crossroads. They could close the business, or change course. 3M executives did what most successful executives do when faced with failure – they used it as an opportunity to find a different way of doing business. Today, the company generates nearly US$30 billion in revenue selling over 55,000 products and employing around 84,000 people.

Now, our organisation isn’t certainly on the same scale as these, but the approach and theory behind some of our changes are. From the way we have re-energised the brand, our programmes, our membership offering and the way we connect and engage with our market has evolved to better serve the needs of our professional learners and the organisations we provide learning solutions for.

As an organisation it is still an evolving process, and we continue to build and consolidate our brand, position, and strategic learning and collaborative partnerships in the market for greater outcomes.

What we have learnt from this process

  1. Be brave – sometimes as a business you do need to make bold decisions and you can make those leaps whilst ensuring you can still respect where you have come from and how it connects to what you are moving towards.
  2. A strong narrative is crucial as part of any major change process for your team, key stakeholders and the market to be able to understand and connect with.
  3. An organisation can recognise the need for change, and implement the necessary strategies, but you can’t always influence the speed of change.
  4. Our learning, with having a small team, is that when you go through such a big internal reflection and reposition initiative it will impact on your ability to deliver and to be able to successfully service your ‘business as usual’.
  5. Big change for an organisation can be at times be like building a house, it can take longer than you think and cost you more than you expect and so this needs to be considered as part of the strategy plan and budget.
  6. Positive market response doesn’t always immediately impact on revenue growth. Growth will come but not always straight away and so you need to stay connected with your customers and market to ensure the changes are the right ones.

From an organisation perspective everything that we have done to reposition our business for greater relevance for our members, learning participants and commercial clients has absolutely worked.

We have learnt lessons as a team, and an organisation and we continue to learn and evolve to ensure we will stay relevant and offer services that are of value and benefit.
If we can learn anything from these global giants it is that no organisation, product or service can permanently rest on its laurels and the need to innovate or refresh must a constant for us all – no matter who we are or what we do. 

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