Mature businesses can change their growth trajectory by changing the way they operate, says Don Sillar.
At the recent APEX sessions I had the pleasure of introducing two outstanding presenters – Jason Fox and Kieran Flanagan.
I’m sure everyone had their own highlights from this session, but I wanted to share with you a couple of insights that struck a chord with me.
Jason introduced the concept of ‘default’ thinking – the idea that we’ve trained ourselves to react in certain ways as a way of making work and everyday life more efficient.
It’s easy to see how default thinking can take over, especially when we’re busy. But as Jason pointed out, sticking to our defaults is dangerous in an industry like ours that needs to adapt.
Jason described the importance of businesses being able to ‘pivot’ to stay relevant – warning that a lack of innovation “hastens the path to irrelevance”.
I know many of you would have related to Jason’s observation that businesses in their growth phase are much more innovative and agile than mature businesses. There’s definitely an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality in many mature businesses that can be hard to shake.
What struck me is how mature businesses can change their growth trajectory by changing the way they operate – like how McDonald’s Australia introduced a new "create your own" menu that reinvigorated the brand and unlocked a new revenue stream.
So how can you avoid the trap of default thinking and make your business more agile?
At this point Jason handed over to his co-presenter, Kieran, a former creative director with a multi-award winning advertising agency.
The focus of Kieran’s presentation was to show us how we can become more agile by changing the way we think about change. Put simply, we need to stop fearing change, and start fearing not changing.
I’m sure most of you agree that our industry needs to change to stay relevant. The hard part is knowing what changes we need to make – especially if we don’t see ourselves as particularly creative or innovative.
For me, a highlight of Kieran’s presentation was the advice she gave about being creative.
Kieran challenged us to put our minds to work and come up with new and better ways to do things – recognising that creativity is not something you’re necessarily born with, but a discipline that can be practiced and developed. “Do the work” as Jerry Seinfeld would say.
A key point Kieran made was that you don’t have to feel pressured to come up with up with big new ideas. It’s OK to take something that works in a competitor’s business, or even in another industry, and try it in yours.
As Kieran rightly pointed out, the biggest beneficiaries of new ideas are often the imitators, not the innovators (it’s easy to forget that mp3 players existed before iPods!).
The important thing for any business is to be visible. Try new things that will help you make stronger connections with your clients. Have fun and be different. Don’t be afraid to experiment which will help you uncover what works.
We know financial advice works. And we know you’re good at what you do. But that alone may not be enough to ensure your long-term success. Collectively, we need to break out of the ‘default’ way of doing things and uncover the new growth arcs for our industry.
I’m confident this is possible because I know many of you are on the right track already. I also know that, through APEX, we have a great platform to continually challenge you and support your role as an industry leader.
Your BDM will be in touch to talk you through a booklet we developed specifically for this session with the help of our presenters. I encourage you to take this opportunity to think hard, get creative, and explore new ways to build a more agile business.