” It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change ” Charles Darwin
If I was to ask you what is the common think between Kodak, Nokia, USSR, blockchain, the internet and my career evolution so far, it is likely to assume that a computer and an algorithm will perhaps not be in a position to find a meaningful numerical pattern to establish a form of interdependence. The reality however, is that all these have a common theme and this is simply change management. The American company Kodak and the failed Soviet state are both prime examples of what happens to an individual that fails to recognise it is time for a change, refuse to accept transformation instead of pioneering its advocacy. All that to say that in financial services and especially software product development, sales and implementation advocating change is everything.
Change is a process that does not happen overnight. The Transtheoretical Model of Change, breaks down the process on couple of different stages.
Although this model is mainly used in medical science, there is a lot of it that, I personally believe could be transferred to business and especially product development and enterprise sales.
I guess there is no straight answer to that question, however being self aware, well informed and curious about the business environment does help a lot to spot change in stage 1 and 2. It is always helpful to keep your eyes open on existing and potentially coming regulation. As an example we can use the changes regulations like MIFIDII brought recently to the financial industry or GDPR to businesses handling customer data online. People knew, these are coming before they did, it was a question of choice to be a leader or the opposite in advocating those. Keeping an eye on breaktrough technology, and its implications to your current and potential customers as well as the business you are in. Let’s step back for a second and think of the impact cloud computing had on physically deployed enterprise infrastructure.
Change equals opportunity. Unsure where this statement comes from, but in most cases it seems to be an universal truth. I remember when we first started building the Bloomberg MIFID II reporting platform. We had to first access what capabilities we had to develop a solution to address the change we knew it was coming to the market. We worked really closely with a couple of customers to develop a product addressing the regulatory change coming. Once we had something already built we went and approached proactively other institutions we knew will be affected by the change. As a result we ended up last year with uptick in both sales and revenues unheard of in long time.
Recently, I had taken the decision to take my career forward. I knew that to become a true sales leader I had to experience something radically different. Deliberately, I changed my existing set up of working in Monte Carlo, to partly working in Karachi, the business capital of Pakistan. It is an incredibly interesting experience, because allowed me to be in multiple situations where I had no choice but to constantly advocate change. Internally, within my employer – I had to repeat again and again that significant business opportunities lie in a frontier market, so we could dedicate more resources to build the products needed. Externally, I had to promote changes that would create and efficient electronic money market replacing a an incredibly complex voice and physical paper trade. To do that I had to quickly adapt to a different culture and adopt new more effective behaviours that would yield way higher results.
The only way you can fly from Monte Carlo a Karachi, is first by recognising that there is a plane that can take you there. Change is inevitable, unavoidable, sometimes hard to predict. It is necessary so that developments take place. Often it could be a great opportunity to grow your business and character sometimes even at the same time. Refusing to accept, resisting or deliberately avoiding change has got higher risks than moving on.