Why is it important to Think Big, Act Small?

By Gareth Fryer, Partner

February 5, 2015   

Chris our CEO often proclaims this. He may not realise it but Charles Darwin would pat him on the back for this sentiment as his viewpoint was “it is not the strongest of the species that survives…it is the one that is most adaptable to change”.

However not everyone is like Chris, where you often hear people say they don’t like change.

And it’s not just people who don’t like change, but often businesses and brands too. While start-up companies through necessity have to create a meaningful point of difference to carve out market space, as they become more established this innovation often takes a back seat. At best, this is due to a build-up in bureaucracy as companies grow which reduces their pace of change to a sluggish crawl. While at worst, institutionalised thinking deliberately switches focus from innovation to protecting the status quo and fighting off the newer challenger brands from ‘their’ turf — the new kids on the block to which they once belonged.

Change is the only constant

However both people and businesses can’t stop change happening all around them. According to the Harvard Business Review ‘in the new world of business, with so much change, so much pressure, so many new ways to do things, the middle of the road is the road to nowhere’. Or as Jim Hightower, a colourful Texas populist is more bluntly fond of saying, “there’s nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.” So for businesses to grow and prosper they must recognise that a larger share of the future very seldom comes from an extrapolation of the present.

Of course the tyranny of change is that you are damned to failure if you change nothing. And you are still damned to failure if you do everything at once. There is also a saying that if one doesn’t know which port you are sailing to then no wind is favourable. So for change to succeed it must be managed with a degree of flexibility and with a clear goal in mind.

Make change before you have to

People may not like change, but they do like better. And therefore they will gravitate towards better solutions that emerge which will test and strain consumer loyalty to existing brands (you need to look no further than some of the recent reported backlash against Apple). Given a choice it is far better for a business to develop it’s offering from a position of strength rather than being forced to through urgent necessity, by which time it may be too late to halt any slide.

As a Service Design consultancy, WAE is in the ‘better’ game of helping challenge and focus clients to developing transformative product and service offerings around our work mantra ‘Think Big, Act Small’.

We’re about the big ideas and large-scale thinking. Our approach enables clients to make smart decisions about their businesses, products, services and processes. But we’re also about acting small; we make things happen quickly. Working in a highly collaborative and agile way we push beyond conventional thinking to rapidly develop and deliver these breakthrough solutions.