Do you change or do you react?

Do you change or do you react?

Business development, reactivity and change

NOTE: This text is a semi automated translation of a post originally written in Spanish.

Recommended soundtrack to read this post: Nahuel Pennisi - Todo Cambia (En Estado Acústico) 

We tend to think that business development only implies the areas of Marketing and Sales, but it not only covers these, it includes the entire company structure. Although effectively, business development proposes something to the entire organisational sphere that is innate to the progress of both societies and individuals; change. In other words, business development is one of the most important levers that originate changes, propel measures and initiate strategies.

Business development defines the progress of a company through the strategies to adopt, with a vision that surpasses the vicissitudes of everyday life. It requires a time and space to think, perform brainstorms, write, draw, ask questions that nobody else is asking and question established beliefs. Reflection can be done in the solitude of the CEO, within a closed committee or in a team setting (the latter being the most advisable). Thinking about the development of the business is an exercise that every healthy corporation must perform with certain regularity, as if it were training for survival.

But once the thinking has been done, the time comes to take action, and this is when business development really drives change; by activating the structure and transforming its professionals. The set of disciplines involved in the processes offers nearly infinite options, among them I would highlight the possibility of identifying and taking advantage of opportunities, creating them when there are none, adapting to the market, innovating, establishing strategic alliances, expanding to new geographical areas, improving processes, (re)defining company strategies, missions, visions and values, etc. Each of these processes mobilises while initiating change and adaptation.

Much has been written about transformation processes and how they approach organisational culture. In my opinion, a company in permanent adaptation becomes overadapted or hyperreactive.

On reactivity

According to Freudian psychology, we are reactive when we produce a change in our behavior to meet the expectations of an observer. Undoubtedly, this behaviour is closely related to levels of self-esteem, both the individual and collective ones.

There have been numerous studies in this regard, if you are interested in the topic of organisational behaviour under observation, I suggest you read about the "Hawthorne Effect". In the 20's of the past century, in a factory in Chicago, an experiment suggested that the productivity gain apparently propelled by a change in lighting changes, was in fact a result of the motivational effect on the workers of the interest being shown in them. (In 2009, in a revaluation of the original data, two economists of the University of Chicago , John List and Steven Levitt found that productivity also varied depending on other factors, such as the weekly work cycle or seasonal temperature, etc. .)

How can we avoid falling into hyperreactivity?

Unless you have a music store in Harlem specialising in the latest trends in Rap and Hip-Hop, where new deities of the genre are born and die every day, it is neither necessary nor useful to be hyperreactive to change, nor to be "always" looking outside yourself, because doing so will not solve you much inside. If you want to stay in business, you can flirt from time to time with trends, but you do not have to "become the trend" and turn your company into something ephemeral.

It is necessary to adopt a strategic thinking routine focussed on developing the the business while honouring its true essence, both outward and inward. Because short-term reactivity can provide an interesting result (ROI), but hyperreactivity reduces our focus and in the medium or long term will damage the mission and values ​​of your company, brand or product. The future vision must be connected to the strategy in order to find the lever that leads us to strengthen the "why" and "why we are here".

In this journey from reactivity to excellence that will run through the entire organisation, you will find the most provocative and seductive piece of the story: the insight on "how you are perceived". If you trace a coherent line between your vision, mission and strategy, your employees will perceive a meaningful path they will want to walk with you. Coherence will thus increase  engagement between the company, its employees, customers and suppliers. At Genetikomm we call this process Spherical Complexity ™. It is the route that brings the vision from the company founders to the current CEO and the stakeholders.

For this future vision to be in tune with the essence of the organisation, the change strategy must be aligned to it. ROI is important, yes, but if you lose focus by pursuing immediate results, in the process you may lose your essence.

Change must cover a need, but it must also honour identity. That is the difference between genuine change and reactivity.

These days, we are witnessing a hyperreaction to contextual change in Catalonia. In my opinion, companies reacted in excess and in advance to the change announced. Moving their headquarters, summoning investors, shareholders, media, taking sides. In this reaction, I reiterate: in my opinion, many times they lost the necessary composure and in losing them, their essence was resented. From the point of view of business development, if those same companies had had a more integrative view of complexity, they may have discovered many opportunities to build bridges, without having to enter the political game. These bridges would leave us today a different landscape: they would be adopting win-win strategies while respecting their foundation and legacy.

In a time of vertiginous changes, of evolving and ephemeral realities, it is up to us to think of ourselves as social and organisational beings, where every decision we make or hesitate to make will positively or negatively affect and condition everything else. And beware of falling into the mental trap of not deciding or not changing anything, because not deciding and not changing is a decision in itself, which can often change the order of things.

Now I remember a Darwin quote that reads: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change." To me “most adaptable to change" means maintaining focus and keeping at the helm through a storm.


This post was inspired by the figure of the Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter, who at the provocation of the English enemy, who was superior in number and power, knew how to maintain focus and keep at the helm to take advantage of the opportunities. I recommend reading his story. You can even see it in film form: Michiel Adriaenszoon, Admiral Michiel de Ruyter.

Is your organisation ready for change ?

Or is it predisposed to reactivity ?

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