It’s human nature to be resistant to change. Change often represents the unknown, raising questions and concerns about what the future holds. Resistance in large organizations may be even greater where preconceived notions and longstanding loyalty to the status quo cloud the benefits of innovation and new ideas.
Failing to adapt and embrace disruptive ideas, however, can result in missed opportunities and is often the reason for a company’s downfall. There are a few different ways to react to disruptive change in any industry. We explain them in our article, Be a Change Navigator, which features insights from the 2017 Mercury Group event.
Individuals and organizations that remain stuck in the past, refuse to accept change, and continue using outdated approaches are the “Victims.” They fail to see the importance of innovation and the advantages to adapting. “Survivors” are willing to change, but only when they feel comfortable. They are followers who are unlikely to have new ideas and would rather wait until a concept becomes mainstream.
Industry leaders, the ones who make an impact, are the “Navigators.” These are the people and teams who are unafraid of change and realize the opportunities that innovation and unconventional thinking provide.
It’s not always major industry shifts that cause disruptions. Sometimes, smaller changes to the way we conduct everyday business can seem just as overwhelming and complex.
“In general, change within an organization is difficult, and even more so in an industry that uses the same persisting practices and methodology as forty years ago,” says Breakthrough®Fuel’s Vice President of Business Development Matt Balzola.
Balzola has worked with dozens of large shippers, helping them understand the value of adapting to changes in the industry—specifically to the way they reimburse carriers for fuel. His experience ushering in radical change for large organizations can help you understand the right approach to presenting innovative ideas in transportation and supply chain management.
First Steps and First Impressions
Hearing a new idea for the first time can be overwhelming. People’s somatic and emotional responses oftentimes outweigh logic as decision makers collect and process information. Balzola says establishing a shared understanding that a problem exists is the first step to ensure an idea will be well received.
“The key is making sure everyone understands there is a problem that needs to be fixed,” he explains. “That’s why we help prospective clients make the organization aware of existing challenges in the marketplace. We spend time explaining the impact fuel has for carriers, shippers, and fuel providers. Decision makers need to realize energy management is a constantly changing problem for supply chains and transportation teams.”
Identifying the problem means bringing up pain points. In the case of fuel management, it’s the simple fact that the cost of fuel has not been effectively managed. The second step is offering up your solution and describing the potential advantages.
“In the case of fuel, we walk our clients through an explanation of how they are managing fuel today, and then present what an ideal state of fuel management would look like in the company’s future,” Balzola says. “Most of the industry has been using a program that was designed in the late 70’s. That index-based program was used as a default because there really wasn’t a better solution.”
But that solution is over 40 years old and times have changed. Shippers need to stay abreast of innovation in the industry as technology, data, and market dynamics evolve.
“New technologies in transportation are coming out all the time,” Balzola says. “You’ll hear about Blockchain, electric vehicles, autonomous trucking, and fuel efficiency advancements such as platooning. These are all examples of innovations that can be used to manage costs. Breakthrough®Fuel’s solutions are no different. We implement emerging technologies that help shippers manage fuel costs.”
Know Your Audience
Introducing change in an organization will require you to present concepts to people at different levels and with distinct skills, concerns, and expectations. It’s crucial that you understand who you’re talking to and what they care about most.
“When you’re dealing with the group responsible for executing change in an organization, you’ll need to spend more time explaining the technical details,” says Balzola. “That includes how it will enhance their work and perhaps make their jobs easier.”
Another thing to consider is that change and disruption may be viewed as a threat to some in your organization. They may feel a solution shines the spotlight on a problem that should have been addressed sooner. Present your ideas in a way that avoids making anyone feel as if they’re being thrown under the bus.
“We focus on the fact that technology changes,” Balzola says. “It’s not necessarily that an individual was doing the wrong thing or ignoring a solution, it’s the fact that these options weren’t available to them until now.”
Transportation fuel makes up between 20 and 30 percent of the entire cost of moving goods to market. Until Breakthrough®Fuel arrived, managing those costs was out of scope due to volatility in price, tax, time, and geography and due to a lack of transparency in shippers’ data.
“Most transportation professionals focused on managing the other 70 to 80 percent of transportation costs, which is the line haul side of things,” says Balzola. “Now, we have an opportunity to hone in on fuel and add more advanced strategies that weren’t available to shippers before.”
As consideration of your idea moves up the chain of command, you’ll likely feel pressure to be more persuasive. Instead of technical details, Balzola thinks it’s wise to focus on the big picture.
“When you start talking with higher-level management, or the C-suite, it can become a much easier sell,” he explains. “If you present a solution with a proven return on investment that helps meet specific goals, you’re unlikely to receive much negative feedback.”
Make Your Case by Providing Proof
Proving the potential ROI of a big idea will be much easier if it has already been tested in the marketplace, with data to back it up.
For example, a Breakthrough®Fuel Recovery program, can have a seven- to 15-times return on investment—and savings start on the first movement on the first day. It also aligns with corporate strategies to reduce an organization’s transportation costs, consumption, and emissions.
“If leadership hears they could experience significant savings while also meeting corporate sustainability goals, all without needing to add in-house talent or labor costs, a Fuel Recovery program will make total sense,” Balzola points out.
It all boils down to the money, eventually. That’s why Balzola stresses cementing the financial value of the solution you want implemented.
“Whenever you’re selling a big idea, the most important thing people want to understand is, ‘What’s my cost and what’s my return?’” he says. “Good procurement teams focus on what’s driving costs and how a solution helps them better manage those costs. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. That’s why Breakthrough®Fuel provides solutions that bring visibility through better data.”
Get Help with Communication and Implementation
One of the biggest challenges of supporting a disruptive idea is the feeling that all responsibility is on your shoulders. It might seem like it’s you against the world, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Breakthrough®Fuel partners with you to help make positive change in your organization a reality.
It starts with education. We explain the fuel market and how it impacts costs. Then, we can conduct an analysis of your transportation network to show data that illustrates how the organization would benefit from better fuel management.
When it comes time to implement a new program, Breakthrough®Fuel does all the heavy lifting, including supplier communication and system integrations. Once your Fuel Recovery program is up and running, we act as an extension of your team, helping you execute strategies daily.
Want to learn more about how the process of implementing Fuel Recovery works? Check out our infographic for a visual representation of a journey towards fairness and accuracy. Plus, read a Q&A with a Breakthrough®Fuel client account manager for a detailed explanation of getting started with us.
If you have specific questions about Breakthrough®Fuel’s solutions, don’t hesitate to contact us today to get the answers you need.