Editor’s Note: Smart Changes Need Strategy
In the late 19th century, the British Army did not know what to do with tanks. “In some ways they were like cavalry since their strength lay partly in their ability to move quickly,” writes Tim Harford in his Financial Times article, “Why Big Companies Squander Good Ideas.” “In other ways, they fitted with the infantry, fighting alongside foot soldiers. Or perhaps tanks were a new kind of military capability entirely...”
The British Army’s cavalry began managing the tanks, but Hartford notes this did not solve the problem because cavalry officers “were organized around horses.” Adopting tanks depended upon the cavalry accepting and integrating the technology alongside horses, with all the politics and painful restructuring that entailed.
The British Army was also “saddled” with tanks ranging from “bad to the barely adequate,” according to the UK’s Imperial War Museum. Partly to blame was the complex and bureaucratic organization behind tank design and production. Various government and private sector groups were designing tanks and fast-tracking production, leading to poor communication between producers and end users. It took until 1942 for tank policy to be synchronized among designers, government agencies, and manufacturers.
Examples from the past can help inform change management styles for future.
Examples from the past can help inform change management styles for the future. Harford writes that the tank problem required an “architectural innovation.” The term refers to the fact that innovations are rarely completely incremental or completely radical. Instead, many innovations require a change in organizational relationships—reorienting the organization’s innovation and legacy features.
Change isn’t always simple, but it can be necessary. After a process of discovery, research, and outreach, Security Management will move to an all-digital format in January 2023. Delivering more content more quickly to a global audience is part of the overall content strategy at ASIS, reflecting a shift across the entire organization to help meet members where they are. Member focus groups and user data reveal that members prefer to read content electronically on a variety of platforms, most frequently on their smartphones. And, despite continued efforts to provide printed materials to members around the world, global shipping remains unreliable and costly.
Features that were previously the sole domain of print have a home with digital. As part of this evolution, members will have access to an exciting new feature—a bookmarking function that will allow members to save articles to their profile with a single click, creating a self-curated magazine of the content most relevant to them. Topics that require Security Management’s hallmark deep dive will take on new life in formats that are easier to read and digest, including infographics and videos.
For organizations with a long history of print media, digital represents an architectural innovation. The desire to simply swap print with digital is often shortsighted—like dropping tanks into the cavalry. The key is to use the best of both by leveraging the speed and accessibility of digital while keeping the quality and endurance of print.