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January 18, 2009

Evolution or Revolution

"Evolution is a slow process normally taking millions of years." The great opening lines from the original X-Men movie. In business it doesn't quite take that long but it does take time.

Evolution in business is the adaptation to changing circumstances. Like evolution in nature only the fittest for the changed environment survive, and many don't make it. IBM didn't make it in the PC business. They saw the writing on the walls, and they evolved.

Today they don't sell PCs. They are among the global leaders in management consultancy. And this helps them leverage their enterprise products to greater advantage. Brilliant.

Toyota evolved. Low cost, quality cars, built mainly with low cost labor forces, and evolving into leaders with the Toyota Prius.

But... evolution has its dodo's too. The US government may well buoy the big three auto makers for the interim period. But if they do not evolve, quickly, then they simply will not survive.

Yahoo didn't evolve their business to monetize the web like Google did. And we are all watching their death throes now. (Maybe?)

And then there are countless members of the newspaper industry - all of which are losing out on what was probably their greatest opportunity  in history.

I far prefer revolution to evolution. Instead of waiting for external stimulus to force the change within the company, a proactive rebel takes control and forces change.

One person at a time, one manager at a time, one idea at a time. Get converts, get activity, get results - wash, rinse and repeat.

A new way of selling, marketing, delivery or engagement. Branching into public courses, exploiting the web more for social networking and marketing, dipping deeply into the local advertising market. All examples of how you can force revolutionary change on your company.

The idea tho is not to destroy what came before. The idea is to achieve a level of success that senior managers will line up to take credit for the changes that you have been pushing under the radar.

try it, you will be amazed at the guerrilla support you will receive, and the overt management support once it becomes obviously the thing to do.

But don't look for conflict, important footnote, keep pushing on open doors. Keep proving the approach you are taking, and allow it to grow naturally. May not be the career making move you ant to achieve, but it will ensure you can force dramatic change on your company from the inside.