8 Actions You Can Take To Survive A Shift

When do you know a shift is occurring that will significantly alter the competitive landscape and terms of play?

There are some people who lead a shift and determine its direction. Steve Jobs engineered a series of discontinuities that not only changed the world of communication and social engagement, they also vaulted his company to another level.

But for most of us “mere mortals,” a shift is experienced after is has begun and marketplace changes are being felt.

Most retailers waited to see how online buying was going to evolve before morphing their brick-and-mortar business into virtual stores with cyber-selling.

The traditional media world is another example where the players are gradually incorporating digital and mobility capabilities into serving their customers and marketing their services.

It is rare that one is able to “see the forest for the trees” when discontinuity strikes; it is virtually impossible to see ahead and predict how it will all play out.

What is certain, however, is that those that decide to stand on the sidelines and observe the action forego any opportunity to influence the shift and have any control over the outcome.

Willing and active participants stand a chance of surviving; you either lean into a shift or be subsumed by it.

8 Actions You Can Take To Be a Shift Survivor

1. Be a learning organization, always listening for changes taking place in customer behavior. Study adoption rates of new technologies and customer solutions. Pay special attention to Millennials and women; they both wield the power to make you or break you.

2. Create a risk-taking culture. Shift survival = (doing) (lots of) (imperfect) (stuff) (fast). If you are not experimenting in the shift, you won’t survive it. Judge your survival competency on the number of failures you create.

3. Disrupt your current direction. Aggressively intervene on yourself and push for order of magnitude change. Modest change won’t satisfy the shift; monumental change might.

4. Apply “extension thinking” to overlay a trend in other industries on your business. Digital shift creates new value for people by connecting and controlling smart devices through cloud-based software platforms. What opportunities does this capability make possible for you? Study the trees and consider the broader implications.

5. Get your plan “just about right.” Reduce precision in the plan; increase precision in execution. Don’t try to create a perfect plan. It doesn’t exist, and while you are trying to discover it, you are not doing anything. Take an imperfect plan, execute it flawlessly, learn from the results you achieve and adjust it along the way.

6. Cut the crap that gets in the way of engaging in the shift. The projects and activities that may have been important in the old world may be grunge in the new, shifted version. How much stuff in the traditional print media business is crap in the digital world? How many resources are deployed in print vs digital? Preserving print robs you of the ability to engage the shift. Honor but expunge the old; you don’t have sufficient bandwidth to take on the new if you don’t.

7. Create VALUE that is relevant and unique for the customers you serve. Stop flogging products; start delivering experiences. Address the key wants and desires of the customers you choose to serve. Be the ONLY one that does what you do in order to stand out from the herd.

8. FOCUS. FOCUS. FOCUS. Do the few things critical to your shifted direction; avoid the possible many. Failure (and survival) is directly related to the amount of unproductive activity you have going on. Pick three (or four) projects and do them brilliantly.

Surviving shift requires different thinking and different action. if you presume that what got you here will get you to where you need to go, you’re fooling yourself.

About the Author: Roy Osing is a former executive vice president and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.

photo credit: andronicusmax via photopin cc

From Micro-Shifts To Macro Sands

You_Are_Here“You are here,” the mat reads.

You look down, mouth agape, and you think, “So where the hell is here?”

You’re standing atop a great sand dune among a mountainous range of dunes. Nothing but blue sky above, you’d think the future would look brighter, but it might as well be raining, since the sunlight hurts your eyes and you’re drenched in sweat; the sun’s heat is unbearable.

And there’s no one or nothing else around. No wind, shade or drink to help cool you down. No one to help or even commiserate with.

All you know is that the project you’ve been working on is due and your deadline is what’s pushing the humidity down around you, wrapping you up like a dirty wool blanket once forgotten in an attic chest.

That’s when finally a sand-filled wind whips up leaving grit caked on your exposed face and hands. You close your crusty eyes and wait.


Your metaphorical sandstorm has begun. You’re crazy busy and completely overwhelmed. Combine that with the fact that you’re a remote worker feeling isolated, or maybe you’re just sitting in your own office, open space, or cube feeling isolated – either way your parched and need help.

The good news? You love what you do, and so do most of your peers and colleagues, so through the blistering sandstorm you slowly see hands reaching out to help.

Thank goodness they’re not zombies; that would make for a completely different world of work story.

No, friendly help is here and not a moment too soon. That’s how I felt the past few weeks, and each time helping hands were there, even when I was here, there and everywhere else. I did what I could in kind as well when others felt the same. They didn’t even have to be major assists either; just little incremental things that shifted negatively perceived performance to positively reciprocated reinforcement.

That’s what a high-engagement climate and culture does – they love what the do and whom they do it with and ensure it always gets done.

Why is this important? Because when the hearts and minds of you and your co-workers are emotionally and intellectually invested and engaged (there’s that word again), and leadership is just as committed if not more so, then that all can lead to extraordinary effort and positive financial results.

Here are some new illustrative examples to share:

  • Engaged employees are 21% more likely to be involved in personal wellness efforts (Gamlem), which in turn reduces sick time off work and improves productivity.

This is why we should pool our collective Zen and always go:

  1. From micro-shifts. It’s the little things, the incremental positive activities that keep us all moving forward and on task, keeping work relevant with little waste or margin for error (even when we feel trapped on a hot dune). This is the help we give one another when we’re committed and engaged to one another and the work we do first, from a collaborative problem-solving session to simply a pat on the back – the company ultimately benefits as long as it supports such micro-shifts.
  1. To macro dunes. If you know anything about sand dunes, they shift over time. The incremental changes may not be immediately perceptible, but at some point the landscape evolves in the weathered ecosystem in which it lives and breathes. Individual contributors and leaders alike must elevate themselves and each other continuously in order to adapt to and traverse the evolving workspace, where blue washes out white hot, forever impacting your business.

Hey, here’s a glass of ice water. I’ve got your back.