How Do You Stop Being Side-swiped in Your Business?


How Do You Stop Being Side-swiped in Your Business?

The nightmare moment every business owner dreads; when a massive change takes place causing you to, virtually overnight, either quickly adapt or watch your business slowly die.

Andy Grove, former Chief Executive Officer of Intel, called this moment a strategic inflection point, which can be set off through multiple occurrences: mega competition; changes in regulations; disruptive technology.

“Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.” – Andy Grove.

Managed correctly ‘change’ can be a great opportunity to grow and strengthen your business. There are two very important things you must do to grab the opportunity, however:

  1. See it coming.
  2. To have the right mindset, cultural and calculated capability to make the change; sometimes rapidly.

To be informed and ready for change is known as having peripheral vision.

Peripheral vision.

Strength in this discipline means you and your team are aware of the business environment and ready and willing to discard legacy products or services, shift emphasis and embrace new technologies.

What do I mean by being aware of the business environment?

  • Political – factors such as changes in regulations, government policies and political stability.
  • Economic – factors such as trends in labour, interest rates and economic cycles.
  • Societal – factors with the changing demographics; age, nationalities and changes in customer and client preferences.
  • Environmental – factors such as climate change and changes in environmental rules.
  • Technology – changes which are happening daily. New business processes and disruptive technology.

These five factors continually shape your business environment, so this is why, to be a sustainable business, you and your team must have peripheral vision.

A prime example of businesses that were not concerned with the changing business environment are video shops and many bookstores. They eventually ceased to exist.

Peripheral vision case study:

ALS Library Services is a true example of a small to medium business that has sustained their peripheral vision and disrupted the traditional way of their business. What is worth noting is that they actioned the initial change long before ‘disruption’ was a trendy word.

ALS provides a professional acquisitions service for print books, eBooks, audio and A/V for Australian Public Libraries. I consider myself fortunate to have contracted with ALS. The history of ALS is rich and interesting, and I want to provide insight to their peripheral vision.

1950:  ALS was established as a division of their existing bookstore, Standard Books, where they first began supplying the Commonwealth Research libraries with selected collections.

1973: ALS came to its fore as the library division of Standard Books. New staff were recruited and cutting

edge systems developed for the specific requirements of public libraries in South Australia and then

Western Australia. They were the first library supplier to collate and offer new title data through an electronic service to a statewide Public Library system. ALS was now a disruptor in their industry.

2007: In November, after having steered ALS through 30 years of change and growth, owner and manager, Mr Len Woodley sold ALS. This sale process took time as it was important to find the ‘right buyer’ to continue the journey. A buyer with good peripheral vision and strong customer centricity. The buyer was found, and she continues today, along with previous key people, taking this business from strength to strength.

2011: A new IT system was implemented along with a new website. The new technology allows them to select, order and track titles more quickly and efficiently for client and internal profiles and specialist lists. Their website now offers around 6,000 carefully chosen pre-publication titles each month for clients to select. Their client base is Australia wide.

2017: At their Head Office and Distribution Centre in Adelaide south, they employ around 50 team members.

If Video Ezy, Borders Bookstore and Nokia embedded peripheral vision across their business along with the willingness to act and change they may have still had a place in today’s market.

Do you have peripheral vision in your business?

Here are some questions for you to reflect on:

  • Do you proactively meet with customers to discuss possible major impacts of political, legislative, and technological changes that may impact the way they receive value from your business?
  • Do you attend relevant conferences/seminars on trends affecting customers and future customer value and then act?
  • Do you take the time to discuss, understand, and act on any changes in the external environment that have implications for your delivery of customer value?
  • Do you track and evaluate changes in other industries that could create peripheral vision?

Strong peripheral vision enables a business to innovate effectively.

I invite you to share with me your thoughts on peripheral vision below.

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