Remember the early days of your business?
Everyone was excited by the opportunity to do great work. Decision making was easy … and fast. Every day was an opportunity to create something new. Things were never left to tomorrow. Your hunger drove you to act with a sense of urgency. Your nimbleness allowed you to out maneuver the competition.
You weren’t there from the beginning? Ask an old-timer. It was the ultimate rush.
Along the way, you (or someone) figured out what worked. The priority switched from creating something new to building scale, consistency, and profitability. Continuous innovation gave way to process consistency. Success led to more people, and that created the need for policies and procedures. Words such as “That would be cool – let’s try it” were replaced with Key Performance Indicators, ROI analysis, and budget justifications.
A few companies are able to balance the maturity that comes with success with the nimble urgency of a start-up. Even fewer can reclaim the energy of their start-up days once it is lost. Most end up being out-flanked by the next more nimble competitor operating with a sense of unbridled urgency.
Avid is one company that is reclaiming its Nimble Urgency. Avid revolutionized video and music production with its official 1989 release of the Avid/1 software editing system. The non-linear editing system disrupted and transformed the entire industry by making the process of telling stories faster, better, cheaper, and friendlier.
Life was good for Avid in the early days. Content creation and distribution was in the hands of a few. The average cost of its edit suite exceeded $100,000. Then Apple and Adobe leveraged increasing computing power with superior marketing to disrupt the disruptor. Non-linear editing became readily and cheaply available on everyone’s desktop.
Avid’s reputation remained stellar among top-end users, but its revenues plummeted. The business was clearly headed toward irrelevance to a world of citizen content creators.
Louis Hernandez, Jr., Avid’s Chairman and CEO, recently shared key insights about the company’s four-year transformation journey. His message gives hope to every organization facing disruption. You can reclaim your Nimble Urgency. It can’t be accomplished overnight, but it can be done. Here are three of the areas you will need to get right to make it happen.
- Don’t just copy the competition – leapfrog them. Clarity of vision and relentless execution are givens in today’s environment. Those alone won’t restore the energy of a start-up, however. For that, you need the excitement that is generated by leapfrogging the competition not just copying them.
For Avid, the answer was Avid Everywhere – a transformational product that breaks down the silos in content production and distribution through a cloud-based service. Avid Everywhere makes global collaboration possible, and in the process provides a platform to reinvigorate the company.
It sounds easy – come up with a new idea and then leapfrog the competition. It takes patience and discipline to stick with a four-year effort. It also requires character and commitment from the top. If you aren’t willing to set the leadership example, your transformation journey is destined to become another failed management program.
- Re-tool your team. Remember Albert Einstein’s quote? “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” The common interpretation from the business motivation folks is that individuals and teams can solve today’s and tomorrow’s problems if they can just learn to think differently.
Do you realize how difficult that is to do? We all see the world from the perspective of our current knowledge and experience. Sometimes you don’t have time for the existing people to change even if they want to do so.
Another reality is that not everyone who wants or tries to help you has the talent to do so. You need people who can succeed in the world that’s coming not the one that exists today. There is truth in the old basketball adage that you can’t teach tall.
Louis Hernandez, Jr. faced that challenge as implemented his plan. He didn’t set out with a pre-determined goal of turning over a significant percentage of his team. It simply turned out that 80 percent of senior leaders and 65 percent of the entire company needed to be new to transform the company.
Some will suggest that Hernandez could have been more patient to help legacy team members adapt. Perhaps, but there comes a time when leaders must demonstrate urgency with action. Waiting too long to act can place you so far behind that you never catch up.
- Create the discipline to do the work every day. Competing products and services will emerge now that Avid’s initial transformation is complete. That’s the way it is for your business, too. Past success proves that you were right once. Every day you must be asking “what’s next” and “what else” to stay ahead.
Most important, you must create and sustain a culture that makes Nimble Urgency a way of life. Examine and update every process and policy. Make your culture the primary driver for decisions around people, performance, and productivity. Ensure that your leaders model and reinforce an environment where talented people crave the opportunity to join your journey.
Reclaiming your Nimble Urgency is a change that won’t occur overnight or without resistance. Then again, if people could make significant change easily and quickly, most of us would choose to wake up tomorrow with something significantly different about ourselves. Avid is taking the challenge. You can, too.
Randy Pennington is an award-winning author, speaker, and leading authority on helping organizations achieve positive results in a world of accelerating change. To bring Randy to your organization or event, visit www.penningtongroup.com , email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 972.980.9857.
Randy Pennington has no financial interests or position in Avid Technologies at this time.