Organizations continue to be disrupted by new technology and changing competitive landscapes. Software teams must transform the way they do business to meet the challenge of this disruption to stay ahead of competition.

To borrow a quote from Jack Welsh, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, then the end is near.”

This is particularly true for technology companies. History is littered with companies that thought they had a great footprint in the industry, appeared to be top performers, and were the darlings of Wall Street, and then soon after became irrelevant when another player came in with its disruptive technology or methodologies.

Why does this happen?

Many companies face this scenario. They have a very successful business that is growing with no issues in sight. There are, however, always challenges to navigate.  Unfortunately, no one is paying attention or thinking pro-actively. The company is successful so its people are focused on continuing to do what they do, but just do it a little better.

The reality is that there is no catalyst driving urgency of change; if anything, the success of the business is further locking the organization into its business model and practices.

As a visionary leader, what can you do?

You have to create your own catalyst, vision and urgency for change.

Take a look at how your organization measures up to world-class providers, including companies outside of your industry. Do some baseline comparisons to help identify activities you could be doing. The objective of benchmarking is to find examples of superior performance or behaviors to help you understand the processes and practices involved to deliver that level of performance and assess how you perform vs. a world class organization. The gaps and subsequent ideas generated from this exercise will help you create a vision for the future, ideas for innovation, and urgency for change.

Key areas to explore should include:

  • Product and technical comparisons for gaps in your product and ideas for future growth
  • Practices for innovation of new products and services
  • Opportunities to improve productivity to free up resources for future innovation
  • Team organization for improved collaboration and time to market

Once you’ve identified your opportunities, it’s time to create a plan of action.  With some preparation and discipline, your catalyst can drive a level of change that is welcomed and can be measured to ensure progress.  You can read more about Making Change Happen and Making it Stick here.

Benchmarking is a great way to inspire and create a sense of urgency.  Regardless of the motivation, generating an external view of your company, industry, and competitors is a valuable part of managing in this world of constant change.  If this is uncharted territory for you and your organization, consider bringing in some outside perspective to assist with the activity and lend an independent point of view.