Recently I have been working with some providers who have extensive legacy service portfolios which are holding them back. They know it, I know it. They may not admit it to me, but do they even dare admit it to themselves? I hope so. But still they fail to take decisive action. These defunct service lines are expensive to deliver and fail to encapsulate the value necessary to differentiate in today’s changing market. The perceived need to continue to support and deliver services which are no longer relevant is immense. What will the customers say (or worse do) if the provider tries and change the status quo? Paranoia-based paralysis is no excuse for inactivity. Doing nothing will seldom improve the situation. Waiting for the perfect solution to present itself will often mean waiting for a very very long time…
Consider if you will, the 1978 Kenny Rogers’ classic “The Gambler”. Business is “just” a game after all is said and done. Admittedly the stakes are higher than some games. But then again, they are considerably lower than others. The difference between the winners and the losers is their ability to weigh up the options and to make value based judgement calls to determine the optimum course of action. As Kenny sings:
“If you’re gonna play the game, boy, ya gotta learn to play it right.
You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.
Now Ev’ry gambler knows that the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away and knowing what to keep.
‘Cause ev’ry hand’s a winner and ev’ry hand’s a loser,
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep.”
So I urge you to look once more at your portfolios. Are you avoiding the difficult decision? Do you need to cut something loose to enable you to move forward? Burying ones head in the sand is NOT a strategy. Engaging with the affected customer base and explaining your need to change is essential. Most will understand your dilemma as they probably face the same issue within their business. Providing you offer them a rational transition roadmap with net neutral financial impact over the short to medium term they will likely agree to come with you on the journey. Sure, some may balk at the idea. Some may even threaten to leave you. But can you really afford to have them stay? If your legacy offerings are hindering your ability to deliver higher value prevention based services then they have gotta go. No “ifs”, no “buts”. In a world where agility is key, dragging the legacy millstone along behind you is tantamount to corporate suicide.
It’s not easy. But nor is it THAT difficult. It’s just a matter of YOUR will to make it so. It is important and could be the one thing that saves you. Here is a quick road map to get your particular ball rolling:
- Segment your customer base and profile those customers that will be affected by any change.
- Identify transition roadmaps for all permissible start and end points.
- Define the minimum entry requirements for each end point and perform a gap analysis for the affected customers.
- Invest time to understand what YOU can do ahead of time to help them with the desired transition. Is there a technology play? A training requirement? An automation opportunity?
- Engage with the right people in your customer organizations. C-level good intentions can easily be undermined by lower level inertia. You will need to target and convince multiple constituencies if you are to be successful.
- Communicate your intentions clearly and honestly. If they are going to have to do more or pay more be damn sure that there is no ambiguity.
- Set the timeline for transition. No-one likes to be forced into something they don’t want to do but by giving them sufficient time to get used to the idea and to prepare you are minimizing their discomfort.
- Commit to what YOU will do as part of the transition and make sure you are ready to play your part.
- Develop a metrics regime to show progress (internally and externally). Communicate progress and success along the way to encourage those still to make the leap.
- Explain to those unwilling to make the journey with you that you are unable and unwilling to allow the current situation to persist. Help them to leave gracefully if that is their choice.
- Execute the plan diligently and consistently with NO exceptions.
Simple? No. Necessary? Yes.
Good luck with your migration journeys…
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