The Hybrid Trap: Why Most Efforts to Bridge Old and New Technology Miss the Mark Change Management Analysis & Solution

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Technology & Operations Case Study | Fernando F. Suarez, James M. Utterback, Paul von Gruben, Hye Young Kang

Case Study Description

Technological transitions are challenging, particularly for companies in mature industries. Incumbents are frequently blindsided by new technologies, thereby missing opportunities to enter emerging markets early. While some established companies become early adopters of new technologies, the authors argue that they typically lack the vision and the commitment to become leaders. Too often, they cling to the familiar, developing "hybrid"products that combine elements of the old and the new.This puts even the best incumbent companies in a weak position when the market finally embraces the new technology, something the authors call the "hybrid trap." This article takes a close look at the auto industry's transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles (EVs) and compares it to precedents in other industries. Several incumbent automakers, such as General Motors Co. and Honda Motor Co. Ltd., entered the EV market early, but they backed away from these projects in favor of continued emphasis on established engine technology. Gradually, most of them focused on hybrid cars that combined old and new technologies. This opened the door to new competitors, notably Tesla Inc., which focused solely on the EV technology. By mid-2017, nearly every old-line engine producer was playing catch-up on EV technology, working to release new electric models in the next two to five years. Although it is too early to know if Tesla will be successful in the long run, the Tesla example, in the authors'view, points to a fundamental weakness in how incumbents respond to industry transformations. In the 1960s, U.S. electronics companies responded to the introduction of Japanese transistor radios by developing products that blended transistor technology with traditional vacuum tubes. In the early 1990s, Kodak Ltd. tried to sell a "film-based digital imaging"product, which merged film photography and digital technology. And a decade ago, BlackBerry Ltd. tried to respond to the challenge of the iPhone by releasing a phone that had both a touchscreen display (like the iPhone) and a traditional keyboard (like earlier BlackBerry phones). The answer for incumbents, the authors write, isn't to walk away from products based on the old technology and jump headlong into the new. But they need to take precautions so that the company's legacy operations don't hamper their ability to pursue new technology. New technologies can open opportunities that extend well beyond the scope of legacy products. But such opportunities can be accessed only by companies that are willing to view the world through the lens of the new technology.

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What is Change Management Definition & Process? Why transformation efforts fail? What are the Change Management Issues in The Hybrid Trap: Why Most Efforts to Bridge Old and New Technology Miss the Mark case study?


According to John P. Kotter – Change Management efforts are the major initiatives an organization undertakes to either boost productivity, increase product quality, improve the organizational culture, or reverse the present downward spiral that the company is going through.

Sooner or later every organization requires change management efforts because without reinventing itself organization tends to lose out in the competitive market environment. The competitors catch up with it in products and service delivery, disruptors take away the lucrative and niche market positioning, or management ends up sitting on its own laurels thus missing out on the new trends, opportunities and developments in the industry.

What are the John P. Kotter - 8 Steps of Change Management?

Eight Steps of Kotter's Change Management Execution are -

  • 1. Establish a Sense of Urgency
  • 2. Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition
  • 3. Create a Vision
  • 4. Communicate the Vision
  • 5. Empower Others to Act on the Vision
  • 6. Plan for and Create Short Term Wins
  • 7. Consolidate Improvements and Produce More Change
  • 8. Institutionalize New Approaches

Are Change Management efforts easy to implement? What are the challenges in implementing change management processes?

According to authorlist Change management efforts are absolutely essential for the surviving and thriving of the organization but they are also extremely difficult to implement. Some of the biggest obstacles in implementing change efforts are –

  • Change efforts are often made by new leaders because they are chosen by board to do so. These leaders often have less trust among the workforce compare to the people with whom they were already working with over the years.
  • Change management is often a lengthy, time consuming, and resource consuming process. Managements try to avoid them because they reflect negatively on the short term financial balance sheet of the organization.
  • Change efforts create an environment of uncertainty in the organization that impacts not only the productivity in the organization but also the level of trust in the organization.
  • Change efforts are often targeted at making fundamental aspects in the business – operations and culture. Change management disrupts are status quo thus face opposition from both within and outside the organization.
  • Change management efforts are made when the organization is in dire need and have fewer resources. This creates silos protection mentality within the organization.

The Hybrid Trap: Why Most Efforts to Bridge Old and New Technology Miss the Mark SWOT Analysis, SWOT Matrix, Weighted SWOT Case Study Solution & Analysis




How you can apply Change Management Principles to The Hybrid Trap: Why Most Efforts to Bridge Old and New Technology Miss the Mark case study?

Leaders can implement Change Management efforts in the organization by following the “Eight Steps Method of Change Management” by John P. Kotter.

Step 1 - Establish a sense of urgency

What are areas that require urgent change management efforts in the “ The Hybrid Trap: Why Most Efforts to Bridge Old and New Technology Miss the Mark “ case study. Some of the areas that require urgent changes are – organizing sales force to meet competitive realities, building new organizational structure to enter new markets or explore new opportunities. The leader needs to convince the managers that the status quo is far more dangerous than the change efforts.

Step 2 - Form a powerful guiding coalition

As mentioned earlier in the paper, most change efforts are undertaken by new management which has far less trust in the bank compare to the people with whom the organization staff has worked for long period of time. New leaders need to tap in the talent of the existing managers and integrate them in the change management efforts. This will for a powerful guiding coalition that not only understands the urgency of the situation but also has the trust of the employees in the organization. If the team able to explain at the grass roots level what went wrong, why organization need change, and what will be the outcomes of the change efforts then there will be a far more positive sentiment about change efforts among the rank and file.

Step 3 - Create a vision

The most critical role of the leader who is leading the change efforts is – creating and communicating a vision that can have a broader buy-in among employees throughout the organization. The vision should not only talk about broader objectives but also about how every little change can add up to the improvement in the overall organization.

Step 4 - Communicating the vision

Leaders need to use every vehicle to communicate the desired outcomes of the change efforts and how each employee impacted by it can contribute to achieve the desired change. Secondly the communication efforts need to answer a simple question for employees – “What it is in for the them”. If the vision doesn’t provide answer to this question then the change efforts are bound to fail because it won’t have buy-in from the required stakeholders of the organization.

Step 5 -Empower other to act on the vision

Once the vision is set and communicated, change management leadership should empower people at every level to take decisions regarding the change efforts. The empowerment should follow two key principles – it shouldn’t be too structured that it takes away improvisation capabilities of the managers who are working on the fronts. Secondly it shouldn’t be too loosely defined that people at the execution level can take it away from the desired vision and objectives.


The Hybrid Trap: Why Most Efforts to Bridge Old and New Technology Miss the Mark PESTEL / PEST / STEP & Porter Five Forces Analysis


Step 6 - Plan for and create short term wins

Initially the change efforts will bring more disruption then positive change because it is transforming the status quo. For example new training to increase productivity initially will lead to decrease in level of current productivity because workers are learning new skills and way of doing things. It can demotivate the employees regarding change efforts. To overcome such scenarios the change management leadership should focus on short term wins within the long term transformation. They should carefully craft short term goals, reward employees for achieving short term wins, and provide a comprehensive understanding of how these short term wins fit into the overall vision and objectives of the change management efforts.

Step 7 - Consolidate improvements and produce more change

Short term wins lead to renewed enthusiasm among the employees to implement change efforts. Management should go ahead to put a framework where the improvements made so far are consolidated and more change efforts can be built on the top of the present change efforts.

Step 8 - Institutionalize new approaches

Once the improvements are consolidated, leadership needs to take steps to institutionalize the processes and changes that are made. It needs to stress how the change efforts have delivered success in the desired manner. It should highlight the connection between corporate success and new behaviour. Finally organization management needs to create organizational structure, leadership, and performance plans consistent with the new approach.

Is change management a process or event?

What many leaders and managers at the Technology Ev fails to recognize is that – Change Management is a deliberate and detail oriented process rather than an event where the management declares that the changes it needs to make in the organization to thrive. Change management not only impact the operational processes of the organization but also the cultural and integral values of the organization.

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