Organizations and leaders today operate in a complex state of continuous flux. An ongoing groundswell of change across industries, political and regulatory environments, leadership, technology and communications happens quickly and with limited predictability that is forcing organizations to meet these challenges in a new way to stay competitive.

The conditions have become so dynamic that many business leaders have adopted the military term VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity) to describe the unprecedented challenges and opportunities in the global marketplace today. In fact, leading Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath suggests in her book “The End of Competitive Advantage” that we are in an era where competitive advantage is temporary and strategy development and execution must be fundamentally overhauled to keep pace. However, organizations all too often still view these changes as a linear process and an event driven set of activities, leaving them behaving more like an in-adaptable “solid” rather than a more fluid and adaptable “liquid” organization.

Indeed this inability to be more nimble and quickly respond to customer expectations and needs was punctuated in Ketchum’s recent Leadership Communication Monitor (KLCM), which found an alarming 21 percentage point gap between what people expect from their leaders and how they rate those leaders in their delivery against those expectations. From a commercial perspective, this gap generated a direct impact on the bottom line, with 60 percent of people reporting that they stopped buying, or bought less, from a company due to these perceptions of poor leadership behavior. This failure of leadership to align brand promises with brand delivery requires a fresh approach to change and communications.

Enter Liquid Change

In order to close this gap, new organizational and individual competencies are required to thrive in this environment of constant, fluid change. Change can no longer be predicted or controlled, resulting in change fatigue in “non-liquid” organizations, and creating a demand for organizations to re-evaluate how they lead and communicate. Yet most leaders and organizations are frustrated by their inability to change as quickly as the world around us.

Liquid Change is about building the capabilities to embrace and act on the opportunities that constant change presents, resulting in a competitive advantage for organizations and brands. We have identified four key capabilities that set the conditions for success for organizations, leaders and employees:

Dialed-In: Creating strong connections with internal and external stakeholders, embracing fearless listening, and fostering co-creation

Fluidity: Driven by passion and resiliency to seize and act on opportunities in real time

Transparency: Communicating with clarity and authenticity across borders, and employing the proven KLCM formula of open communication + decisive action + personal presence

Pioneering: Promoting curiosity and experimentation, and supporting risk-taking to break through and innovate

Holding on to competitive advantage is more slippery than ever. Is your organization liquid enough to rapidly seize opportunity and achieve true leadership advantage in today’s reality of constant change?

Tyler serves as a Partner and the Managing Director for Ketchum Change, Ketchum’s change management, employee engagement and workforce communications consultancy. Tyler coordinates the global network of consultants in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Dubai, London, New York and San Francisco. Tyler has over 19 years of leadership, communications, strategy and business transformation experience during which time he has partnered with some of the world’s leading companies to grow and unleash the potential of their business, brands and employees. Tyler began his professional career as an officer in the U.S. Army serving primarily in Europe and the Balkans.