NES MBA: Built to Change

Written by Zac Vineyard in NES MBA

I'm going to cheat here a little bit and talk about an SNES game. Remember Gradius 3? I mean literally. Do you remember every detail of Gradius 3? If you don't, that's what it took to beat the game. You had to memorize each level so that you could avoid late game traps that would keep you from reaching the final bosses. While it was often fun to start playing Gradius, many players soon grew tired of the monotony. Unlike what we see so much of in the business world, Gradius never changed no matter how many times you started over.

Currently, I work in a business that's being disrupted: higher education. There are many indicators that the market, at least for some higher education degrees, that customers and organizations have moved aggressively toward online delivery. This has fundamentally changed the competitive nature of college admissions. It is much more common, for example, for universities to offer classes online, whether the student is staying in on-campus dorms on not. And it makes sense: an online degree is a convenient, inexpensive way to get an education. This disruption may cause, however, some institutions to change the way they operate, how they plan for the future, and how they identify themselves to the market. My institution, for the moment, is trying to change how it operates to cope with current disruptions. But I' wondering if it is changing in the right way.

Architecting an organization for change means designing its key work-setting components such that they promote change while at the same time are themselves readily changeable.

—Edward E. Lawler III
Built to Change: How to Achieve Sustained Organizational Effectiveness

Edward E. Lawler III clearly believes that organizations can be built to embrace change. The effects of those changes, especially as seen in start-up culture, are often demonstrated as benefits for customers. Unfortunately, businesses that resist change can also unknowingly move away from fulfilling customer expectations and risk losing brand equity. Can your business change into what the customer expects?