Most of us don’t change until we have to. When it comes to value, we know what it has looked like in our past, we are less familiar with what it looks like in our present, and we are clueless about what it will look like in our future.
To ensure that we are producing value, and will produce value for the foreseeable future, we often have to break the mold that produced value in the past. If we simply continue to function in the way we always have, the value we produce will be slowly degraded by changing times. Another way that I often put it to my audiences is, “Success is an early warning indicator of failure.” Yesterday’s formula for success probably won’t work tomorrow.
By any measure, Facebook is the model of success for social media. In fact, “Facebooking” is the most popular activity on the World Wide Web. The social network has about three quarters of a billion users and hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The brand name “Facebook” is now synonymous with social networking in the minds of most consumers.
And yet, just this month, Facebook announced a stem-to-stern overhaul of its social networking site. It’s added new features, removed old ones, and changed the way the site is used and viewed. While the site’s old model was quite popular among users, the pioneers behind the site understand that standing pat is not an option. They know that Facebook must continue to train and retrain the value it creates in order to remain competitive. (And yes, it can be unsettling for users, myself included.)
Competition is definitely one of the forces motivating Facebook’s changes. Inspired by its success, new competitors have entered the social media market, duplicating the value that Facebook offers and, in some cases, offering distinctive new value or appealing to niche markets not well served by Facebook.
Adding new features and tapping new markets are Facebook’s way of keeping its value current for today and prepared for tomorrow. Without changes like these, Facebook’s value would gradually begin to seem like old hat, yesterday’s news, as users migrate to newer, more innovative sites. Facebook’s changes are not without risks, particularly the risk of alienating customers who were already happy with its service. However, the team at the social networking giant understands that the risks of growing stale and changing nothing are greater.
Your products and their value change over time, so you often have to change the product or the process. Sometimes it’s a tweak. Sometimes it’s an overhaul. As you assess your own products—what is it that you produce that creates value?—it’s important to live in the present and think toward the future. More often than not, value and success in the future will be defined differently than they were in the past.
My new book, Up, Down or Sideways explains why value is paramount and how you can innovate to grow your personal and organizational value proposition. Watch the trailer and download an excerpt here.