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Seven Principles For Managing Change #FFWDadweek

Guest Post:  Lisa Gervais has 14 years experience in Digital Marketing, over the course of her career, she has lead online campaigns for IBM Canada, Rogers Communications and Fidelity Investments Canada as well as project managed campaigns on behalf of Warner Bros, Dyson, Mattel and Spin Master to name but a few. You can connect with Lisa on Linkedin or Twitter.

FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week 2013 kicked-off with a breakfast presentation by keynote speaker François Olivier, President and CEO, TC Transcontinental, and Interim President, TC Media. Olivier began by providing an overview of the business and highlighted key milestones in the company’s history. He described how the business has grown from producing glossy Francois Olivercolour flyers to an expansive print, media and web offering.

He then outlined seven principles he believes organizations need to keep top of mind to be successful in an ever-changing competitive and volatile business landscape.

According to Olivier, change presents itself in a wide variety of ways. First and foremost, an organization needs to have an original idea that responds to a consumer need or request or ties in with an evolving business trend. Being open to and listening for customer feedback or having a pulse on the next big industry innovation is key to knowing how to manage change. The way in which a company responds and adapts will determine its success.

Every business encounters obstacles. Olivier believes that how you respond to adversity will determine whether you change, adapt, innovate and survive. He also stresses the importance of fostering a corporate culture in which employees do not fear failure. By example, he recounted how the owners of TC Transcontinental had to overcome the challenge of a newspaper strike that threatened to cripple their flyer business. Rather than accept their fate, the challenge was turned into an opportunity to branch out into the media distribution business.

Passion, he says, is a crucial component at the core of every business, as it will guide you through the difficult times of change. If you want to transform your product or service, it is a fundamental requirement. Historically, the company’s passion for the media industry has been driving transformation and innovation. If it had not been for the desire to rescue a regional-based Quebec newspaper, Oliver shared with the audience, TC Transcontinental would not have entered the publishing industry. At the end of the day, there needs to be an excitement behind what you are doing and why you are doing it.

As a fourth principle, he issued a warning to his audience regarding technological changes with the potential on impact business. Beware of jumping on short-term trends and technologies he advised. He cited the CD-ROM as an example of a technological phenomenon that lasted a short 10 years. When you see trends developing, and you are told they will be disruptive, be aware that some technologies are short-lived while others don’t deliver on their promise. Instead, look at the measures of success and determine whether it will drive revenue or motivate customer behaviour.

If you want to transform your company, Olivier said, have a well-structured plan. Think big and take risks and don’t restrain your organization.

Consider acquisition as a tool for pursuing new lines and growing your business if you don’t have certain in-house capabilities. He described how TC Transcontinental was able to acquire several key magazine titles. Often times, he said, opportunities present themselves and you need to be open to the idea of change. There’s also no shame, Olivier joked, in having luck on your side.

The final key to managing change, according to Olivier, is to learn new core competencies. We’ve all heard the old adage that a business that stagnates eventually dies. Evolution is the key to continued growth, therefore he advises to develop mechanisms to foster internal development and innovation.

As an opening session for FFWD Advertising and Marketing Week 2013, the topic is timely. Given the high degree of volatility in the marketplace this past year, and the need to manage change, Olivier’s principles are insightful and inspiring. This is the fifth anniversary of the industry event by The Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA) that celebrates thought leadership within the Canadian advertising and marketing industries.