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3 Tips For Managing Change

If you are in a startup, you are naturally in the position of being a "change maker."  You are naturally pursuing a new opportunity without a template for success.  There is no proverbial teacher's textbook that can help guide your product and your business plan.  It doesn't matter because you and your team and completely bought into your mission and are ready to forge ahead regardless.

In larger companies with existing revenues and profits, it is often the case that being a change maker is much more difficult.  More often than not its not the strategy, funding, or team issues that the inhibitors for success. Its the environmental fear around trying to pursue change.  This change could wide ranging from extending an existing product or service to cannibalizing an existing product line with a new one.

You can read plenty of books like Jim Collin's "Built To Last" or "How The Mighty Fall" to get more insight into the common mistakes that travail large companies.  The difficulty you have with an existing business is that you spend too much time focusing on protecting your business – you end up playing defense.  You focus your time on protecting the downside versus trying to grow the upside. 

I am working on a talk for this year's Casual Connect titled, "No Fear!  How to Embrace and Attack Change in the Industry" to cover this topic.  I have a bunch of non-games examples to help show how
companies have overcome adversity to become truly break-thru businesses.  I did a speech at the very same show that highlighted the fact that many of the casual games companies were not the companies that first innovated on the smartphone and social platforms while new companies like Zynga and Rovio did. A link to that presentation is here.

I am personally always in positions of having to drive change in business and I have found that there are three main tenets that keep your change management course in the right direction, they are:

1. Fear is the mind killer – do not fear change
I read a lot of Frank Hebert's Dune as a kid.  For you Sci Fi geeks, you know that the Bene Gesserit have methods to calm their minds to withstand tremendous pain.  Emotions can have physical results and having a positive or negative emotion around your company has severe implications.  Fear can stop you in your tracks.  Remember when Pandora was in essence "dead" a couple of years ago.  The royalty hikes were almost a death knell.  Now they are public company valued over $2 billion.  Fear is the mind killer.

2. Don't forget the basics – people, process, execution
It starts with a fantastic team.  There are countless tales about teams not ideas make great businesses happen.  From a personal perspective, I am Chairman of AdXpose that is the leading online ad Picture1 verification product on the market.  The business is managing billions of ad impressions from agencies to DSPs to ad networks.  The business started out as a eBay buying tool.  It has morphed several times and is now on a path for success. 

In addition, nothing can be said for process and execution.  You need an organic process to your business plan and operating roadmap.  But, you need a plan and the willingness to stick to it (or be willing to change). 

3. Start with the end in mind & never stop
Checkout my post on Abe Lincoln.  A lifetime of failures to become the President of the United States.  A gaming example that reminds me of this is Rovio.  Years of no hit and layoffs.  Angry Birds was released in December 2009 and now its a cultural phenomenon that has been downloaded over 40 million times and counting.

I am looking forward to finishing my presentation.  More to come.


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