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Old Flames

Ride The Wave

There are a huge variety of different sorts of businesses in the ‘corporate zoo’, from the very large, to the small and agile, to the downright weird.

The one thing they all have to try and weather is change; change in their markets, change to their customers’ desires, change to the countries they operate in, change to social mores or in new, developing technologies or perhaps change in legislation or national economic stability.

As an agency we see change all around our clients’ worlds and every brief we receive can be seen in the context of change, with needs for management forums, update sessions, motivation programmes all forming part of the great span of activity and investment around communicating with staff.

Every business, apart from any capital equipment and machinery, is a ‘community of individuals’ all working together to make a profit and make some progress in the world. Many businesses are well tuned into their operating environment and hopefully they can see any ‘artefacts of change’ coming towards them that might knock their business, if not immediately, then over a longer period of change.

We have been looking for a way to upgrade our offering as an agency and rather than just be a deliverer of live experiences for our clients, we want to be have a more valuable role in our clients’ business and find a way we can genuinely increase the value of what we do for them.

In any business no matter how successful, there is a ‘space’ which you could describe as being the point of most potential change. This might be based on any number of external influences and factors that have the potential to impact on the company’s performance, competitiveness, products and services or financial security.

Looking at case studies, you can see many examples where the more obvious large scale changes have impacted dramatically on whole business sectors such as Amazon with book sellers, or technology and social media with marketing companies. It is therefore a useful thought model to ask what sort of change might affect us, how will that change be recognised and what would be the implications on our business. There are many similarities with scenario-playing with this approach and we have developed an analogy which helps us describe the process and which illustrates our thinking and our offer to clients.

In our analogy, change is a series of large waves creating the ocean swell that the corporate ships at sea try to ride out. At the coastline, the waves come ashore and break becoming a chaotic jumble of water. Surfers use that chaos and energy to give them a ‘ride’ just ahead of the wave, which monopolises the inherent opportunity for the speed and impetus the wave gives. Now it is fine for the large (corporate) ships sitting way offshore to ride out the breakers and rollers – which shows they have a continuing corporate ability to survive – unless the ‘winds of change’ blow the vessel around so it is onside to the swell where there is a loss of control by the crew leading to an increasing chance of capsizing.

Back at the wave front is where the action is and any experienced surfer will tell you that understanding how a wave works and knowing when to be in the right position is the gateway to an exhilarating ride above and in front of the chaos. That is an anlalogy for what we offer our clients; a chance to look at the foamy barrels and calculate where the opportunities lie. In reality, this might take the a variety of forms, with new comms strategies, the development of new business models and a new mix of marketing comms to satisfy a new niche, mixing media and audiences to profitable effect.

In business, we believe that the front of the wave is a place than can be practically explored, asking what and where do the risks to the business come from and how can we respond creatively and disruptively to that proposition. The analogy prompts that if management are willing to do some creative thinking in the right place and to ask the right questions, there might be a hidden opportunity which is risky but which – if understood and prepared for – could create a real bonus of opportunity.

We like to think that as a company focused on corporate communications and with all companies in reality being a community rather than a machine, we are well placed to stimulate and facilitate this kind of fresh, ambitious, inquisitive thinking and help with the subsequent communication needs throughout entire business populations. If you believe in the proposition that employees are what they think and their behaviours drive performance, then influencing those mind-sets, their thoughts and their beliefs, can become a real driver of how to grab the opportunities that riding the front of the wave of change can bring.

We believe that we can forge some powerful partnership with our clients and create new kinds of value with our offering, helping them to become more prepared, opportunistic and successful. More awesome.

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