The biggest risk is not taking any risk

„The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a rapidly changing world, the only strategy that will surely fail is not to risk.“ — Mark Zuckerberg

For Mark Zuckerberg, corporate change is a continuous challenge. Many old economy leaders and thinkers believe that change is easier for a digital company like Facebook because there is little risk involved – it seems easier to move bits and bytes than factories and production lines. Is it the implicit risk that keeps companies from looking at changing environments as an opportunity to evaluate alternative options?

Yes, change carries risks. But that cannot be an excuse for not being innovative and creative when it comes to transform an organization when circumstances require. The ruthless thing about change is that you cannot sit it out. You can accept or reject change – with the respective consequences.

Be prepared for any change to come

In a world of constant technological, cultural, economic and political change, digital Darwinism has already left its mark. The sudden appearance of a worldwide pandemic mercilessly and ruthlessly exposes technological, cultural, economic and political weaknesses. COVID-19 shows us the direction: We must be prepared for the most radical changes.

It is important to understand that you cannot foresee and prepare for all and everything. But you can make your organization change-ready and open minded to regard change as an opportunity.

We live in the age of digital transformation and not just since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Internet shopping, medical consultations at a mouse-click and collaboration via Zoom is existing since before the pandemic broke out. So far, many companies have tried to grasp the technological side of change. They approach this change as a single act rather than a long-term transformation that also takes people into the equation. However, many managers have now realized that the urgency lies not in the adaptation of new technologies, but in their organization’s ability to change; in the willingness of management, employees and key stakeholders of the company to embrace change. Change readiness is not a technology-related condition, but a mindset and an expression of a living innovation/corporate culture.

Develop a change mind-set

We can fly to Mars, adapt to the most adverse climates, learn extinct languages and distil noble spirits from fruits. But it is infinitely difficult to work in flexible team structures, to delegate tasks competently, or to convert technological advantages into customer-oriented benefits. Evolutionary developmental biology tells us that change is part of our DNA, yet we are change-averse and look for stability and security. Most corporate cultures have not internalized a culture of innovation and transformation. No one voluntarily wants to risk a seemingly stable and secure job. But a company can only offer stability and security if it is willing to constantly change and adapt. However, a company can only master change if it can authentically say that management and employees want this change because they understand the necessity of it, that they have the required skillsets and are allowed to take all required actions.

In many companies, change takes place reluctantly or not at all, due to the fact that it is often unclear (a) what role management plays in the change process, or (b) how employees, business partners and stakeholders are shall be integrated into the process. Often it is also undue respect for the entrepreneurial consequences of one’s own courage. Yes, change involves risk and it is true that the greatest risk is not to take any risk. Being aware of that does not yet mean acting accordingly.

Black Dolphin’s Change and Transformation Management helps entrepreneurs to contain risks and master the challenges of change; in designing and implementing precise change and communication measures, we get important stakeholders of the company to recognize the necessity of change, support it and actively contribute. Change and transformation processes which we at Black Dolphin support are e.g. corporate reorientation, post-merger integration, the development of a corporate culture, or the implementation of a new business strategy.

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Author: Dr. Ralf C. Kaiser
Dr. Ralf C. Kaiser is a partner of BLACK DOLPHIN, a communications consultancy in Germany, Austria and UK. He is a certified change management consultant and business coach and specialist in change and transformation processes, strategic communication, and corporate brand development. Before setting up the Black Dolphin collaborative, he worked for leading communications firms such as Edelman, Fink & Fuchs AG, Hill+Knowlton, and MC-Services AG in Europe, USA and Asia. He held various international management functions at Toyota, Lexus and Hyundai. Ralf studied Political Science and Economics and holds a doctorate in Business Administration.