Why exec teams are so often resistant to change
When I recommend changes to exec teams, I’m often told, “our business is unique, our industry is different, what you are suggesting won’t work.” This is always a telltale sign that a team has been spending too much time working "in" their business and not enough time working "on" their business.
When you work in your business, you focus on execution and on finding a series of incremental improvements to build into your playbooks. The sum of these improvements makes your business feel unique but in most cases also involves following your industry’s norms in order to grease the wheels of progress.
In contrast, when you work on your business, you focus on strategy and on finding step-changes to take your business to the next level. More often than not, this involves disrupting one or more of your industry’s norms. After all, norms only exist to maintain the status quo, and the status quo always favors the biggest players.
Many exec teams adhere to industry norms out of fear of upsetting customers or partners, especially in company cultures where having a network of industry relationships is seen as a differentiator. However, if you follow someone else's rules for too long, you will just get sidelined and eventually become a commodity.