Once upon a time a company might spend seven years developing a new product. Maybe it happened in a bunker.
Companies had teams of people - engineers, professors, designers, scientists, technicians - who developed new products and services. When their work was done the product or service was handed on to marketing whose job was to decide who it was for and wrap a story around it to ensure to resonated with a maximum available market. Companies organised around this model. It worked. Then new divisions popped up which worked in service of the other divisions creating, marketing or selling the products and services. Divisions like IT. Systems. People. Accounting. One big house with clearly delineated floors and rooms. I’m here. you’re there. Make more things and we’ll sell them. The customer was an afterthought.
Then the world changed. Seven years to make a product is a luxury. Making products or services then deciding who they’re for is wasteful. And pointless.
The days of the customer as an afterthought are gone.
Now the customer wags the corporate dog.
But the dog isn’t ready.
All those old systems, old ways of operating, they’re a constraint.
Where once the old systems protected the position, now they inhibit.
All the old systems are going away.
Comedians for President.
The world is changing.
And our companies and organisations are a function of the same world.
The ex-vice chair of GE, Beth Comstock once said:
“The old is going away, but the new has not yet revealed itself. Change is effecting virtually every industry right now”.
This was true. Now it isn’t.
The old is going away and the new has revealed itself. But it continues to do so, over and over, again and again. The new is constantly revealing a newer version.
Everything is always changing.
This apparent speeding up effects our nervous systems, personally and organisationally.
Flux is the new normal. Organisations used to try and manage change out of the organisational system. Change was risk. Not any more. Change is normal.
If you’re not making relevant, useful, beneficial products and services, the tail will wag the corporate dog into oblivion.
We live in a world of real time feedback loops.
If you develop a product or a service you need to do so with the people who will use it. Your customers aren’t internal. Or, if they are, the internal customer better be well tuned into the real customer. If they’re not, you’re making things which might well be irrelevant.