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Reflection – Cen (Mia) Zhao

by on December 1, 2007

Reflection–The “right speed” for change

In the book of Facilitating Organizational Change, author mentioned about the “right speed” for change in Chapter three, which impressed me a lot. It mentioned that in high-tech market, system has to change at the same rate as environment. I believe this should not only be applied to the high-tech market, but also in any industry. If system changes slower than the environment for a long time, this system will not survive. However, if system changes faster than the environment, it is hard to say whether it is good or not.

From one perspective, in the some markets such as fashion and media, companies have to change much quicker than the environment. There is no speed limit for these industries. News comes out everyday. Like the movie “Chicago,” people love new stuff everyday.

But from the other perspective, if company change too fast, they will have problems with the industry standard. Think about the web technology. Its standard changes every year. Certainly, if you always use the old standard, there might be a problem for you to experience new functions and fancy effects. However, if you always adopt the new standard, you might face huge risks for these effects. If you have a chance to look at Google’s website, you will be surprised to find that a lot of pages in Google website do not use Cascading Style Sheet (CSS). As we all know, CSS is not a very new conception. It was first published in 1996 and then became popular after 2000. I believe the reason for Google to avoid this relatively new technology is that Google do not want to discriminate users whose browsers might not support CSS. It clearly shows that if company changed too fast, it might be away from the majority, which definitely is not a good choice.

However, let’s think about the successful case of Lentando Wii. Lentando did not use the standard design of game controller while got its great success by introducing the new experience for non-traditional game player. It changed its target market successfully by breaking the industry standards. In this case, it did prove that system could achieve great success if it changes faster than the environment.

Above all, the right changing “speed” is not only related to the changing speed of environment, but also depends on company’s own strategies and target market. If company wants to be creative and to lead the whole industry, it should choose the faster speed while if company hopes to let everyone access the resources, it should keep steady and choose the slower speed compared to the whole industry.

One Comment
  1. To a very large degree, I think you’re right. The same goes with pacing the rate of a sale. You don’t have an infinite window to get things done.However, I think that speed has to be regulated to ensure success. For instance, if you complete a negotiation too quickly, you risk someone getting buyer’s remorse and backing out.Perhaps the best examples come from companies that fail when they launch products “before their time”. Many people don’t realize that the first MMORPG (think World of Warcraft-type game), was launched in 1996 by Sierra games. It was so far beyond its market that it failed. Not only could existing technology not run the game effectively, but the online concept was just launching and many gamers had reservations about such a far-out idea.The microwave is another example. Developed in the 1940s, as a legacy project from the Manhattan Project, the microwave was briefly marketed, but fell flat, as people valued home-cooked food over processed food and “time-to-stomach”. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the idea really took hold.I’d argue that it is possible to be too far ahead of the market, but in terms of change management, I’m not certain that such a thing is even possible. To me that if the change can get through rapidly and still have buy-in, then the timeline should be embraced.Nice reflection, though!

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