It is now widely accepted that there are three certainties in life, death, taxes and change.
Whereas we all have legitimate reasons for not liking death and taxes, it would appear that we can also now proudly dislike anyone trying to tamper with our status quo. This may sound odd coming from a Change practitioner (who makes a living facilitating change in organisations and people), but in some quarters inviting change can quite literally be bad for business. Disagree? How about the business that is United Kingdom plc?
UK plc thrives on its ancient history, stories, assets and by-gone culture. Cases in point:
- Famous historical buildings such as the Tower of London, House of Parliament, The London Dungeons, Stonehenge etc. with their fascinating and compelling stories.
- Victorian railway infrastructure (albeit with more modern trains)
- Various listed buildings and assets (e.g. bridges, etc.)
- The Royal family establishment, like no other on earth.
The reliability of UK plc is based on history, as manifested by all the above. This arguably is why thousands of people flock to the UK each year for holidays. UK plc provides historical and grandiose tourist attractions which no other country can compete with – no matter their wealth. Even better, the barrier to entry (based as it does on many centuries of history) is well, very, very high.
Changing any of this will have a big negative impact for the tourism business…and all the stakeholder businesses which rely on the tourism trade. In the same vein, maintaining the status quo (history and assets) is very expensive. For example,
- Each year, millions are spent on the maintenance of the UK railway infrastructure.
- Part of an 18th Century bridge in Tadcaster, York collapsed in December 2015 into a river amidst accusations of neglect.
And yet we cannot live in the past – so how can we find a way of balancing the past with moving with the times…and still be competitive?
The Transport for London (TfL), the local government body responsible for most aspects of the transport system in Greater London England, seems to have struck gold on this with their recent opening, to the public, of the secret old wartime tunnels. This project also aims to create various profitable opportunities for many stakeholders including commercial businesses (restaurants and coffee shops), the tourism business, as well as generating funds for TFL (so therefore a benefit relief for the tax payers).
In an era where we generally equate change with an overhaul of the status quo, could there be room for a change strategy which endorses a parallel running of the old and the new as a viable profitable option? Is this what Change guru Kotter envisages as a Dual Operating system? If so, what impact could this have on so many facets of our lives?