Enterprises, like humans, like predictable outcomes. Safety, security and stability are wired into the heart of most performance targets. The problem is that comfort zones slow (and even kill) positive business momentum for achievement.
In an enterprise, here is a short list of what comfort zones look like:
– Continuing to do things a certain way simply because ‘they have always been done that way’.
– Tolerating a vacuum in the new skills required to meet new context and priorities of performance targets.
– Having poor scalability, neglecting preparation for the future and allowing decentralized communications.
– Accepting individuals / teams in pushing back from (or controlling or devaluing) anything outside of currently accepted core beliefs.
– Buying one-off systems to address tech issues vs. taking an integrated view of internal and external ecosystems to invest unifying technological capability.
– Ignoring, procrastinating on or even avoiding the mindset and business environment that is needed for success in today’s dynamic business landscape.
– Not investing in innovation and / or strategy led by insights into the ideal customer market and behaviors.
Recognizing your organization in any of these is an indicator that transformation – to a greater or lesser degree – is needed to remain competitive in your market.
Even more, there are blocks, barriers and obstacles to upleveling to meet marketplace needs and conversations. One of the most significant was diagnosed far ahead of today’s issues when Newton said that “an object in motion tends to stay in motion”. In this case, that includes old-school branding and marketing practices as enterprises try to use the ‘tried and true’ methods that are now outmatched by fast-changing market conditions.
Comfort zones are a mindset that determines daily actions, practices and, ultimately, corporate culture.
Maturity is the result of working through comfort zones to achieve next-level presence.
Proactive growth comes from punching holes in comfort zones.
“Many companies who have failed to invest in creating an anticipatory mindset and decided to stick to their tried and trusted methods are increasingly struggling to keep up the pace. … it’s the organizations that fail to see the value in driving both small everyday, and large transformational innovation that often find their industry has been dramatically changed by a yet another start-up that arrives on the scene.” ~ Daniel Burrus
Punching holes in comfort zones can take different forms:
– Team brainstorming about issues and outcomes if the enterprise gets 10x more orders in the next week.
– Having individuals from different teams ‘shadow’ each other to see what / why they do what they do to both understand and improve the results.
– Inviting all employees to take 24 hours every month to improve, invent or innovate new solutions to bring added value to your customers. (Maybe even invest in technology that supports ongoing innovation with gamification…)
– Working through each business system with a critical eye and determination to break it (before a customer does) so each can be fixed or improved.
– Forecasting via a trend analysis to see emerging micro-needs, collaboration opportunities and current constraints in meeting or adapting to what surfaces in the process.
– Inviting a group of strangers to a presentation of key concepts to see what they don’t understand or question about your solution, process or company vision.
– Deconstructing your competitors to see what they are doing well and what they are missing to identify potential gaps and opportunities to serve your customers better.
– Utilizing a continuous mystery ‘shopping’ evaluation for every aspect of your processes, regardless of their customer-facing element, as every person in your company should be fully engaged in serving your customers and delivering on your vision and mission.
Naturally, this will disrupt the status quo – and that is what you want. The idea is that your enterprise will purposefully ‘punch through’ existing systems, processes and paradigms to uplevel where needed prior to your customers voting with their wallet.
By intentionally breaking through stagnant comfort zones or, at the very least, acknowledging that continuous growth and conscious improvement are what keeps enterprises agile, current and relevant in their markets, your enterprise increases its long-term sustainability. And that’s the only comfort zone you really want in the long run anyway.