Getting a company to evolve can sometimes be as impossible as convincing the Titanic to change course before hitting that iceberg—and we all know what happened there.
Many of us have seen this in our professional lives—there are a bunch of ideas to improve the organization, but they never really take hold. And that’s really bad for your customers and your bottom line, says Turi McKinley, executive director of the organizational design firm Frog Design Inc.
That change inertia is a red flag, says McKinley, who ran a workshop demonstration on the company’s methods Monday as part of The Fast Company Innovation Festival. When solutions are being hindered by organizational handicaps, something needs to change. “That’s what tells you you’re ready for org activation,” says McKinley.
This concept, “org activation,” is a method Frog uses to reinvigorate a company from the inside so that every decision is centered around customer experience. And the process also ensures that every employee understands the goal at hand. Launching something new, or rebranding something old is a terrific way to force a company to align and accelerate change, she says.
Frog is often called in to help businesses and brands figure out ways to redesign both products and internal structures. The firm focuses on identifying the obstacles to change—and the reason why sales are falling or stagnant. Key stakeholders—employees, customers, supervisors—must be tapped to figure out what is working and what isn’t.
At the event, Frog used the example of a retail company trying to stay relevant in the digital age. Today, what a customer wants are to be able to shop online and have painless in-store interactions. If an aging retail company wants to evolve with the rapidly changing industry, it must put new processes in place to best respond to is customers. It’s not just about launching a pretty new app–it’s about figuring out how to restructure a business so that it’s in tune with overarching goals.
Organizations flail when communication breaks down and the executive perspective is different from others in the company, says McKinley, and the only way to fix this is to come up with ways that break down institutional boundaries and red tape.
The guiding principle for all change is that it needs “to be centered at the customer experience.” It’s as easy as that.