Change Business

If you are a change business, you have to define what that means

In the context of business, the word change is like strategy, transformation, or enablement – it’s unclear what it means because of overuse.

Yet change is a useful business concept. It applies when a business inspires and leads a behavioral and mindset transformation.

As an expertise firm, if you’re not changing how your customers do things, you’re optimizing.

An SEO strategist might change how their clients approach market research and content marketing. This might lead to fundamental business process changes, especially when coupled with insights into business operations.

Meanwhile, an SEO specialist might merely optimize what the same business already does in terms of content marketing. No change in how the business runs, just better results.

Both change and optimization create value – more profit, impact, visibility. Both can be part of viable business models.

That said, the change approach is likely to create long-term value and more total value. And for a services-business, it’s more profitable on a per-client basis.

This is just as true of product-focused businesses. We think of products as being optimization-based and not transformational. Software = faster than “humanware”.

But Basecamp didn’t just make project planning faster than with MS Project, it altered the way lean, multi-organization teams approached project management; responsibility became more distributed.

CRM software like Salesforce and Blackbaud was also more than simply a speed and efficiency tool. Its mere presence led some organizations to integrate sales, support, fundraising, and marketing. A fundamental business change.

Whether you sell services, products, or – best option – a combination thereof, you are probably in the change business. 

You complained once, “I tried to tell my client that this will only work if they change the way they do things!”

If so, you have my sympathy. But that’s not an effective approach. Better is to define in advance the kind of change you will create. 

Here’s a simple, 4-part framework to get you started. This will help you define yourself as a change business.

  1. What type of person is the change for?
  2. What’s the inciting incident(s) that leads them towards change?
  3. What is the outcome of the change?
  4. How is that change achieved?

I’m curious to hear how you answer this – feel free to hit reply and send me your answers.

Enjoy this summer week,