When you read that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) might not be around in the next year or two, it gets your attention. I mean, the NYSE, the icon of American business and capitalism for the world. How could this have happened? Stocks are still being traded and the stock market is alive and kicking.
Simply put, the NYSE is almost broke because they have clung to old ways of doing business for too long.
Jeffrey Sprecher, the chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange, the company that bought the NYSE, walked into the headquarters and quickly noted that processes were outdated and inefficient, and communication and collaboration were missing. The organization was loaded with people and costs because they were still working as if it was 1994, not 2014.
He ordered all the walls, both physical and figurative, to come down. He is planning for a flatter, leaner, and more integrated organization that serves today’s stock market, not the stock exchange of 20 years ago. He recognized they needed to make huge changes to survive and stay relevant.
How does your business work?
- Are you hiring or retaining people who are technically competent, but are not willing to change with the times?
- Are you refusing to move forward with systems and technology because you like doing business the way you’ve always done it?
- Are you in love with your comfort zone?
Businesses that refuse to change with the times will eventually fail. This has been proven time and again. As a leader, you cannot stand still just because you are uncomfortable with new ways of doing business and new technology. So how do you move forward? Admit to yourself that you do not have all the answers. You know a lot about your business, but your viewpoint is biased and incomplete. You need several viewpoints to get a true picture.
- Invite your key employees and advisors to strategize with you. They probably have ideas about what is holding your organization back, and what processes are inefficient or outdated.
- Benchmark your organization with your competitors. What are the differences? Why aren’t you doing some of the things your competitors are doing?
- Identify and prioritize your organization’s weaknesses. Are your costs too high? Do you need to improve your response time with customers? Do you need to be active on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)? Are you still doing everything on paper?
- Determine whether you have resources available to tackle these issues. Be realistic – there are only so many hours in the day for you and your employees.
- Hire expertise to help you develop new processes and implement new technology. Contract this work out to gain the knowledge you need and determine which direction to take.
- Repeat. Once you’re done, there will be something else that you need to change.
This process of communication, assessment, and change is also known as (surprise) business planning. Every business needs a plan, so get busy on yours!