How To Become a Serial Reinventor

How do you continually adapt, grow and stay vital when the rules of the game always change? A new book investigates.
Strategic Facilitation & Ideation, MatthewEMay.com
June 08, 2012

If one thing is constant in business, it's that everything about your market will change. In fact, it probably already has, and you haven't detected it.

In The Reinventors: How Extraordinary Companies Pursue Radical Continuous Change, Jason Jennings explores the most urgent question facing every company today: How do you continually adapt, grow and stay vital when the rules of the game always change?

The answer is to become a serial "reinventor": a nimble and agile organization able to embrace and adapt to constant rapid change. "It's the only way to survive and thrive," says Jennings.

Jennings identifies two major problems:

  • If a business isn't growing, the people who want to make more money and have more responsibility won't get what they want when they want it, and they'll find a reason to leave and pursue better opportunities elsewhere.
  • Unless a business is constantly undergoing radical change, it will never be able to start of its customers' constantly changing wants and needs, and its growth will first falter and then completely stop.

Jennings maintains that two of the primary responsibilities of a business leader are to "keep a highly motivated team of people together" and to "make certain the team stays ahead of a growing base of customers" with ever-shifting requirements. "Everything else can be dealt with and managed," he writes.

Role Models for Reinvention

After researching 22,000 cases and conducting interviews at 100 companies, Jennings and his team selected some of the best reinventor companies, verified their success, went inside, and learned how they pursue never-ending radical change. Here are some examples:

  • Apollo Tyres launched the Apollo Academy to train its employees and reinvented how it finds and keeps people, quadrupling sales in only a few years.
  • Smithfied Foods faced a PR crisis over the way it slaughtered animals and polluted the environment. It transformed itself by hiring an environmental activist and empowering him to transform the company's ethos.
  • Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, which instead of lamenting the growing popularity of cremations, opened its own profitable cremation center and turned the entire industry upside down.

Key Takeaways

Jennings uses his findings to show how you can be a reinventor if you:

  • Spot game-changers before it's too late.
  • Build and commit to a culture of change and growth.
  • Avoid the hesitation trap.
  • Get your people on the same page to adapt with you.
  • Change frugally with the resources available.
  • Let go of the eight reinvention killers: not being able to let go of yesterday's breadwinners, ego, same old-same old, conventional wisdom, a sense of entitlement, greed, short-timer's mentality, and an aversion to risk.

Packed with clear strategies like these, The Reinventors is a practical roadmap to successfully pursuing constant radical change that can help any company stay relevant for years to come.

"Your job as you know and your business as it is currently run will eventually change," Jennings concludes. "The only chance any of us have for prosperity is to constantly reimagine, rethink, and reinvent everything we do and how we do it in order to remain relevant. We must become reinventors, and we'd better do it quickly."

How do you ensure constant radical change in your company?

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