My day job is working with companies who are needing to better understand how to go about transformative 'change'. 

This focus comes with lots of reasons but none more so than the global impact of Covid 19. 

When called in to talk through 'change' I often see lots of companies who are keen to change but have failed to discover, empower, and leverage their own internal  'change makers'. 

Change is pretty scary for many people, particularly if it seems like it's your job that could be cut as part of that change, but what if you had a crystal ball, what do you think Thomas Cook, Mothercare, Debenhams and others would have done different back when the sun was shining - correct answer is NOTHING, yup that's right, nothing!

The traditional retail sector has lumbered along for many years, when the internet arrived far too many of them simply saw it as a threat to 'cannibalising' the physical store network and did very little, a few of them followed the herd and added a website, but all done at a very slow pace.

Then came Covid......

In my experience you can introduce new processes, new technology, and yes even new people, but if the mindset of the company (it's culture) doesn't change then it's all wasted time and effort. 

Change doesn't happen via increments in time, it happens with increments in measurable actions that are consumer centric. Business is overly obsessed with it's internalised view of process and not enough of the externalised evidence around changes in consumer behaviour.

For sure this crisis has looked to separate the agile from the laggard, and there are certain sectors that no amount of agility will have kick started the revenues. 

When you look at the sectors and high streets that will most likely bounce back quicker than others will be those companies that opted to use social media to remain front of mind to it's community and customers - most of the 'social media' lessons are in fact coming from local independent retailers and those in hospitality as they already have a customer first, process second mindset. 

Today's retail leaders have little choice to become significantly agile and creative, they need to take a leaf out of the start up mindset who don't have access to all that resource and finance because the legacy retailer does not have another 10 months let alone years to sort stuff out. 

They not only need to create an internal disruption team by identifying the internal 'change makers' (every single company has these) and get them to look at the business as if it's going tits up anytime soon, but also embrace something that's already disrupting them, with something that's kept most of us informed during this crisis and we all use every single day, and that is social media..

Take a moment to consider the following industry stats;

  • Less than 2% of Employees regularly share or create employer related brand content.
  • Over 33% of Employees are unclear on what to post and how it could benefit their employer.
  • There is a 561% increase in audience for your brand message when shared by employees vs sharing via the corporate channel.
  • 90% of your employee network is new to your brand meaning you are opening up previously untapped audiences.

So when I see retailers (and other businesses) using social platforms as a way to deal with crisis management, or transferring the 'advertise, promote, me, me, me, me' thinking then I wonder if anything is really changing?