Corporate Darwinism: Why Change Is Required for Better Business

The need for change and ways to facilitate the change process were the main topics of conversation during a session titled, “Corporate Darwinism: Why Change Is Required for Better Business.” Karen Dillon, a journalist and author, moderated a panel with leaders of change from different industries, including Tom Fanning, Chairman, President and CEO of Southern Company, Jeff Harmening, CEO and Chairman of the Board of General Mills, and Nancy Green, President and CEO of Athleta.

Whether it is creating more environmentally friendly products, changing the way energy is made, moved and sold, or new consumer food trends and values, well-established industries, including the garment, energy and food industries, have had to adapt over the last decade. Fanning described the need for these changes within the industries as “an adaptation to be successful” and explained how these aspirations help to make our planet and way of life better.

Panelists shared their thoughts on being leaders of change and how to successfully implement industry-wide change. Green expressed the importance of action when leading change in an industry, explaining how Athleta’s approach is to “influence through demonstrating success.” “They’re not just ideas, they’re actions,” said Green. Analyzing current and future trends and the direction of an industry were discussed as ways to lead change within an industry. Fanning said part of transforming industries is being forward-thinking and that is why Southern Company focuses and invests in new technology and innovation.

Harmening spoke about how transforming a business or organization can be difficult. “Leading change is hard,” said Harmening. Believing in the change you are making and setting expectations are two of the keys for leading change, according to Harmening.

While discussing facilitating the change process, Fanning believes it’s important to celebrate the revolutionaries and create a safe space for people to question changes being made. When taking over as President and CEO of Southern Company, Fanning created the line, “Honor the past. Build for the future,” to set the tone and help lead the company through change.

To watch the full panel, click here.