May 18, 2011

Corporate Reinvention the “Easy” Way: Oldco versus Newco

It’s something most strategy consultants know but don’t talk about often.  What happens when a precious few executives with some power, insight and money (in varying combinations) realize that the steamship they are on is too big to turn around?  They find a way to create NewCo.  There are any one of a number of ways to do this – buy small, build a skunk-works (favorable usage of the term) or have a talent flight over the course of a number of months to another company who is adjacent or in the same industry.  I’ve watched it dozens of times.  However, what strikes me more is the people who didn’t see it coming.  Wakey, Wakey…

  • How recently have you innovated your business model?  Not a new feature of service – but real deep thought about how changes in the world should be met by changes in your marketplace.
  • When was the last time your organization was majorly shaken up, across departments, channels, opportunities and interests?  Are you stale?
  • When was the last super-successful organizational initiative? I did not say big, I said super-successful.  How are those received?  Celebrated? Excoriated or dismissed by the less involved/less productive?  How frequently is it scaled and shared?
  • How long does it take you to get things done?  When was the last time you can say “we put that to be fast/early…”
  • How often do people raise their hands, volunteer their time and departments to participate?  Or are participants to efforts “voluntold?”
  • How does the organization handle consistent repetitive failure in the pursuit of success?  Small or large?  You need to fail.  It’s a batting average folks.
  • How recently has IT innovated in a way that adds value from the shareholder and stakeholder point of view?  (Meaning not simply reducing bodies or adding automation – but value that customers or at least employees can see)
  • Is a project a project a project? In other words, what has to happen for an organization to clear the roadblocks to new and aggressive projects actually happening as fast as they need to?
  • How effective is the organization at using all of its assets?  Data, systems, people, channels, partners?  Score like your customers would.

These are questions smart organizations ask themselves with stunning frequency. Are you Oldco or Newco?

To see more of Cristene’s thoughts about Business Lessons, Marketing Strategy, and other general musings, you can read them on her blog Muse and Maven.

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